I sit on this Sunday in pain. I ache. My body aches from competing in a martial arts tournament yesterday. My mind aches from the thought I should have done better and from the seemingly never-ending quest to edit and finish my second book. And, my heart aches from a love that was lost, a love that could have been. The weight of the world seems to be on my shoulders as I reflect on all of this pain.
Thoughts and questions enter my mind like “Why?” and “I am done, never again,” or “I can’t do this anymore.” As I filter these thoughts and look at my context of life I am clear to my pain – RESISTANCE. Just like in martial arts, in life what we resist persists. Life throws whatever it throws at us and we fight it. We hope and wish for something different. We sit in questions and victimize our lives as if we are at the effect of life itself. This resistance is like a dam blocking the flow of life. It blocks our lives, our happiness until we burst in a breakdown, or health problems, or we flood our subconscious with fear and inaction that cripples us in fully experiencing life, in pursuing what we truly want.
We resist the flow of life and cling to the permanence and static of life.
My favorite ex Seattleite, Bruce Lee said, “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless-like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle, you put it into a teapot and it becomes the teapot. Now it can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.”
This is the root of Buddha’s first noble truth. The Buddha stated that life is suffering. Yet this word suffering does not explain the full extent of his words as the Buddha did not speak English so the translation was lost. Barbara O’Brien breaks this down in greater depth in this article on Buddhism http://buddhism.about.com/od/thefournobletruths/a/dukkhaexplain.htm. O’Brien explains that Buddha’s word Dukkha often translated as suffering, or dissatisfaction can be broken into three main categories:
1. Suffering or Pain: This includes physical, emotional and mental pain.
2. Impermanence or change: Anything subject to change be it happiness, or sadness, or anger.
3. Conditioned states: To be conditioned is to be dependent on or affected by something else.
Thus, we suffer when we cling to this pain, impermanence and conditioned states. We try to HOLD ON as if we can control life and keep it as it was, or as we want it to be. We miss two fundamental components of our lives. In every moment, no matter the difficulty or pain we can choose acceptance and gratitude. Every moment in our life has beauty to it, some may be harder to find than others yet it is there if you stop resisting and open your heart.
After months of training, all of the sweat, the blood, the broken bones and the tears came to a head yesterday. My dam of resistance broke as I lost a match. I was angry, frustrated and disappointed I didn’t do better. The foundation of my resistance built as the thoughts escalated in my mind, ‘why am I doing this?’ ‘I am not going through that pain again.’ It’s funny as these same questions rise in my mind as I think about putting my heart out again. I think about how much I miss my love and my heart aches and these same questions come into my mind. Through all of this resistance my suffering persists.
As I change my context and accept things for exactly how they are and no different I can see a different path. I can feel different about my circumstances, I am no longer at the effect of this life. I can see that I am 100% responsible for my life and how I exist in it. I can have extreme gratitude that I am a far better martial artist that I was 3 months ago and I have built incredible friendships and brothers and sisters in my life. I can get that all this time editing and rewriting is a gift, I am following a passion of mine, a voice in this world. This is truly a gift. And, my heart, even though it hurts I am so grateful for each moment I had with this person, I am a far better person because of it and I will always have the memories of our time together. I am exactly how I am supposed to be right now. Every experience is exactly how it was supposed to happen. I can only smile in this thought and I am so grateful, so blessed for all of my experiences in this life. Life is this journey, this path, there is no supposed destination. Life is right now, in this moment, in each experience.
I am water my friend. I will give my heart as though it has never been broken and I will train like I have never lost and I will write as though they are my first words. Life is beautiful.
Call to Action:
- Get present to where you resist life. Let it go, find acceptance and gratitude in all of these areas.
- Be like water my friend, flow with life, you cannot control a life that is exactly the way it is supposed to be.
- Be LOVE.
Thomas D. Craig
Author of A Cup of Buddha
Seeker. Adventurer. Warrior