Heyam Dukham Anagatam
January 5, 2012 § 1 Comment
It’s becoming clear to me that suffering is a characteristic of the human experience.
I’m sure that sounds like a simplistic and obvious thing to state – duh, we all suffer, I’m suffering right now - but the realization of this is awakening in me in a new way. It’s not only that we suffer that makes us human, it’s that our suffering is actually born of the other characteristic of the human experience, the quest for happiness, that makes us quintessentially what we are. There isn’t one person on this earth who doesn’t, deep down, want some sort of relief, cessation, to the struggles they face on a daily basis, some sort of way to alleviate the pain of feeling alone and estranged from all other beings. When I’m in pain is when I feel most alone, most like a crazy alien, because the rawness of hurt and fear are so very jarring and real that, as a being confined to a small body, my ability to comprehend the capacity for someone else to experience this same pain is limited by my imagination and my compassion. There’s no way anyone knows what I’m going through right now.
The other day I was walking around in a cloud of self-doubt, anger, pain, and broken-heartedness when I got on the subway. The air in the car hung heavy with tension, and I was sure I’d carried my cloud on with me when suddenly a skinny girl standing behind a giant baby carriage suddenly snapped at her boyfriend, “I was begging you for your help on the bus and you just laughed. I thought you were a man.“
I almost laughed. Here I was, making the most human of mistakes. forgetting I’m not the only person with a broken heart. I wanted to reach out and touch her in some way (but you know, this is New York City, if you like your hands, you don’t do that), so I sat there breathing into our shared pain, and somehow that melted something inside of me.
When I stop blaming everyone around me for everything that seems to be going wrong and take a moment to become clear, I can trace everything currently happening in my life to the choices I’ve made, straight to all the times I’ve mistaken the temporary relief of pure pleasure for the permeating peacefulness of true happiness, all the times I’ve mistaken lust for love, all the times I’ve tried to pretend it doesn’t hurt. And that is my practice and my lesson, remembering I shape my life by the choices I make, by the way I react to the conditions the world presents to me. If I make the choice that I know will eventually come to hurt, I can’t be surprised when the pain comes knocking. And while it would be easier to return into my old patterns that led me here, I’m trying to get to somewhere better in my life. Now I feel like I’m armed with new tools, new knowledge, that might help me catch myself before I make another choice that leads me heart-first into brokenness.
The past pain, I need to learn to let go of. For the things that I am doing that are causing me pain in the present, I need to learn how to break the pattern with compassion and fearlessness in order to learn to make choices for the future that will keep me on the blessed path of bliss.