LIFE IS HARD. I think we all realize this sooner or later with death, abuse, loss, unemployment, miscarriage, severe illness, addiction, and so on. On this topic, author and spiritual sage Richard Rohr observes: “The Buddha said again and again, ‘I teach only suffering and the transformation of suffering.’ As I often say: If you do not transform your pain, you will most certainly transmit it. All great religion is about what to do with your pain. The Noble Eightfold Path describes the Buddha’s way to transform your pain. The Buddha said, ‘Wherever the Noble Eightfold Path is practiced, joy, peace, and insight are there.‘”
Let me share something to help make this applicable. Recently my wife (Lisa) and I faced a tricky financial and relational situation involving a significant chunk of money owed by another party. We prayed, researched, queried financial experts, and sought advice from friends. At the end of the “day” we faced two roads: Take legal action to MAYBE get what was “ours”, or eat the loss and move on with life. Along the regaining money path we saw stress, anxiety, anger, and relational harm. Meanwhile, on the losing cash route we saw freedom, forgiveness, love, and a lightness. Now, while Lisa is PERFECT (like Ed Sheeran’s song) I’m far from it, but I think we practiced what the Buddha and Rohr were describing in this situation by picking the latter choice.
When confronted with pain, loss, and hardship, we each have a simple question to answer: Are you going to become bitter or get better? While it’s really that simple, it seems to me it’s easy to become angry, untrusting, closed off, fearful, and suspicious without even realizing it. So, today I invite us all to practice transforming our sufferings, be they a hard yoga pose or being stuck in traffic or experiencing a major loss, into joy and peace by picking the path of light and love.
Grace and peace,