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Posted By Luminous Jewel, Blake Walton

The Potholes of Life

 

Black Hole

 

I'm sure you've all encountered these potholes, if not literally, then figuratively-- the black holes of loss, anger and hatred; the bottomless pits of despair; the soul -jarring obstacles on our path. Unfortunately, there is no way out but through. Especially the basic ones like sickness, old age and death, as the historical Buddha said in his first teaching on the Four Noble Truths.

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In case you don't know or remember the Four Noble Truths, let me summarize:

1. The Truth of Suffering

Life as a human is subject to the inevitable suffering of sickness, old age and death.      Nobody gets out alive! (or unscathed!)

2. The Causes of Suffering

Besides the inevitable pain of sickness, old age and death, we humans add a lot of         mental/emotional/physical suffering  by engaging in the reactive emotions of attachment, aversion and ignorance (The Three Poisons).

3. The Cessation of Suffering is Possible

Good News! Free your reactive emotions, clear your mind and you will feel less               suffering.

4. The Path to the Cessation of Suffering

Buddhism is nothing if it is not practical and effective! The Buddha laid out an Eightfold  Path of mind trainings and behaviors/life attitudes that can greatly relieve human         suffering. (More about that later.)

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Whereas the lesson with life's pleasures is not to get too attached (aah, maple syrup on pancakes!), the lesson with potholes is not to be too avoidant by denying or repressing these obstacles and the resulting reactive emotions they elicit.  Once again, the SLOW DOWN AND PAY ATTENTION advice applies to potholes, though in my experience with a lot of extra added squirming!  I remember being at a retreat with Pema Chodron called "Going to the Places that Scare You" and almost having a panic attack when having to meditate on one of my potholes. Here is where the importance of breathing deeply and calmly cannot be emphasized enough.

 

I'm practicing a lot of deep breathing and softening as I prepare to fly to Dallas tomorrow for a family conference aimed at assisting my mother into a nursing home. The image below has helped me to stay calm and centered. May it bring you joy.

May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May they have happiness and the causes of happiness.

 

Lama

   

 

 

 
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