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we look deeper into our discursive mind we see how we create memory,
sentiment, and meaning. Suddenly nothing means what we once thought it
did. Ordinary things take on the weight of our rage and the freight of
our pain, and a toothbrush is no longer just a toothbrush. Indeed, your
home may be your new hell; your bed, a torture chamber; a sleepless
night, an eternity.
nothing is what we conceive or perceive it to be. When this thought
occurs to you, take heart. Doubt is the dawn of faith, and faith will
see you through darkness.
The Stride of No-Stride
This is the greatest illusion of all. — MARPA, weeping over the death of his child
would be nice if we could keep from falling apart when our lives
collapse around us. It would be handy if by our spiritual learning alone
we could pull ourselves together, keep up appearances, and maintain our
stride. We might be saved embarrassment and shame. We might look like
we’re coping. We might even stay positive. But that is not the way
reality works. We can’t outsmart it. Impermanence always knocks us off
our stride. It is a pothole, a landmine, and a head-on collision. We
tumble and fall, and that can be useful. Falling is the fastest way to
drop our arrogance, cynicism, pretense, and indifference. Pain brings us
fully to life.
is the lesson in the story of Marpa, the eleventh-century Tibetan
teacher, who wept copiously over the dead body of his young son. Finding
him in the throes of inconsolable grief, Marpa’s disciples were taken
aback. Hadn’t the master taught them repeatedly that life was an
illusion? Why was he carrying on like this? Was he a liar or fake? Marpa
responded, “Yes, everything is an illusion, but the death of a child is
the greatest illusion of all.”
pain is the most piercing illusion of all. Facing it, feeling it, you
will awaken your sympathy and kindness. You will feel compassion for
yourself, and soon, for all. You will find your footing by losing it.
Your Angry Child
You are the mother for your anger, your baby. —THICH NHAT HANH
Face it, you’re angry.
is so unpleasant, so altogether ugly, that we usually attribute it to
someone else. Someone else made you angry, that certain someone who tore
out your heart and ruined your life. It’s easy to blame others for our
injuries, but if we persist in seeing our own anger as the unavoidable
outcome of someone else’s actions, we are going to be angry for a very
long time. Anger is power, and blame is powerlessness. When we take
responsibility for our anger, we take back our power to change. That
power has never belonged to anyone else.
is what Thich Nhat Hahn teaches when he suggests we view our anger as a
howling baby. No one wants to be around it, but it cannot be ignored. Someone needs to do something about that baby! The
baby is yours, and the only one who can do anything is you. However
disagreeable the infant is, you pick the baby up and place it in your
lap. Then you rock and comfort her, and wait. You attend to yourself
without judgment or blame. In this way, anger wears itself out. The baby
goes to sleep.