I began my personal religious practice in Buddhism. I used to go sit with a group and loved chanting the Tibetan chants. They are so beautiful. Mediation brought me many things…frustration, peace, anger, sadness, hope, and the ability to listen.
It was easy for me to be drawn to Buddhism. Life is suffering. It was the definition of my life at the moment I read those words. I felt alone. I was single, young, changing my major in college. I had become so engrossed in my previous relationship that I had no identity of myself. I was the flavor of the week. There were no consistent friends. They belonged to that last flavor. My family was busy with their own lives.
I would like to say that my intro to Buddhism changed my life in an instant. That I found clarity and knowledge. I sure thought I did, but I really just morphed into the newest flavor. I found a friend who also identified as Buddhist. She gave me several books and I devoured them. There were times when I knew everything! But it was a great letdown when it crashed in.
I had mistaken happiness for enlightenment. I did that several times before I realized my ego had been messing with me! I still does.
This brings me to today’s reading, p. 9 in A Buddhist Bible, “Though they possessed the capacity for knowledge and virtue and could perceive the true nature of things, they remained in ignorance, entangled by deceptive thoughts.”
Buddha was trying to decide whether he should share the Dharma, knowing most would never understand. I’m not saying I yet understand. There are too many concepts to wrap my mind around but one thing I do finally understand is this:
I was born of this Earth in this time. I have suffered, just as all others (everyone suffers!). It is not a competition. I think back to a time when I felt the cold bathroom floor under my face. The tears streaming down into a puddle on the floor. I had to be in the bathroom because the pain flowing my body would sporadically cause me to convulse and dry heave into the toilet bowl. I would get just to the point when I thought I could stand and walk out of the tiny space I had confined myself into and thoughts would fill my head and cycle me through another round of uncontrollable sobs. I make no mention as to the event bringing my to this, because it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we have all been there in some way or another. In that moment when you feel like you are going to die. That no one will understand, that no one has felt what you are feeling, it’s important to know you are not alone. We all suffer. Life is suffering.
My understanding and wake up to this is the added realization that these moments (and the ones that hurt but don’t break you) are all shaping us to live this life’s purpose. I remember the last time I was broken, I was calm. I cried my eyes out but I spoke to God with a different voice. I said, “I know there is a reason things did not go my way. I may be hurting, but I know you have my best in your plans and you would never steer me away. I will wait for understanding because I know it will come.”
The understanding did come. It was a painful experience that I am desperately still trying to work through. I haven’t even reached the full message. But I will. Because I know life is suffering, but it is also joy. I was born here and now for a reason. God will guide me and when I don’t listen, or I need an experience to provide clarity, he will provide.