Craig’s forehead rested heavily upon the bar’s wooden surface which (chilled by the air conditioning) provided a welcome relief from late summer’s inferno. “Relationships make me miserable,” he lamented, “but so does solitude! No, not at first, mind you, but eventually, inevitably. Does that make of me a bad Buddhist?” he asked the oddly dressed stranger to his right.
Ceasing to rest his arthritic back against the bar, Sifu turned away from the wedding reception’s drunken dancers, and considered Craig and his complaint. “Neither pain, nor frustration, nor even loneliness itself are spiritual failings, they’re not even bad, just merely uncomfortable. No, my friend, it is not our feelings that defines us as much as what we DO with them.”
Craig tried to sniff, emitting instead the wet, thick gurgling sound of mucousy tears and phlegm, and asked, “Then what is the Buddha’s way to deal with what I feel?”
“Mindfully drop the heavy chains of your controlling tendencies and give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel. Notice it vulnerably, viscerally, passively, and spontaneously. Recognize that you are not alone in feeling this pain, and in hating this pain, so exercise the compassionate intention that wishes that all beings of all worlds be freed of such torment. After exploring the inevitability of change use the tools of exhalation and relaxation to insightfully release your grasp upon your torment.
No, it will not make it go away, but it will free you from its control. For that is the only liberation that the Buddha offers.
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