As soon as it becomes clear that “I” cannot possibly escape from the reality of the present, since “I” is nothing other than what I know now, this inner turmoil must stop. No possibility remains but to be aware of pain, fear, boredom, or grief in the same complete way that one is aware of pleasure. The human organism has the most wonderful powers of adaptation to both physical and psychological pain. But these can only come into full play when the pain is not being constantly restimulated by this inner effort to get away from it, to separate the “I” from the feeling. The effort creates a state of tension in which the pain thrives.
But when the tension ceases, mind and body begin to absorb the pain – as water reacts to a blow or cut.
Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity
A way of working with difficult moments, difficult emotions and with these difficult times:
When you’re like a keg of dynamite just about to go off, patience means just slowing down at that point – just pausing- instead of immediately acting on your usual, habitual response. You refrain from acting, you stop talking to yourself, and then you connect with the soft spot. But at the same time you are completely and totally honest with yourself about what you are feeling. You’re not suppressing anything; patience has nothing to do with suppression. In fact, it has everything to do with a gentle, honest relationship with yourself. That frustration, that uneasiness and vulnerability is nothing solid. And yet it is painful to experience. Just wait and be patient with your anguish and with the discomfort of it. This means relaxing with that restless energy – knowing it’s the only way to find peace for ourselves.
Pema Chodron, Practicing Peace in Times of War
The pandemic has meant that we have lost a lot of what we were accustomed to. Can we still look for beauty or “see the moon” when our modern day structures fall?
The barn’s burnt down,
now I can see the moon.
Mizuta Masahide, 1657–1723, Japanese Zen poet
Do not become annoyed when faced with difficulties.
To do so merely adds difficulty to difficulty and further disturbs your mind.
By maintaining a mind of peace and non-opposition,
difficulties will naturally fall away.
Sheng-Yen (1931-2009) Resident teacher at the Chan Meditation Center in Elmhurst, New York