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Lions Roar : March 2015
nutrient-rich puddle. The feeling of unsatisfactoriness ranges all the way from vague unease and asking What’s it all about? to bottomless sorrow. Suffering is what was hidden from the Buddha. The idea was that if he saw sickness, old age, death, and a person who was devoted to practice, he’d run off to get a practice. Which he did and he did. So the story indicates that suffering is not an anomaly but a clue to freeing the mind. In this sense suffering is not accidental or a mistake, but an enormous beginning. It’s the gift that starts a great transformation in our point of view. It might be a surprise to find that your mind is on your side, even when it’s arguing with the world or seems to be making mistakes. When I became curious about my mind, I found that when I felt a deep loathing for an idea, that showed me I was interested in it and perhaps frightened of its power. In that way even defensiveness was on my side. The problems I saw, though they were real, were not the cause of my inner turbulence. It was just that I objected to what was happening and was spun around by it. For me, suffering is a kind of tantrum I throw from time to time. Suffering is full of should be, ought to be, and could have been. “This isn’t it” is something I think without really looking. If I truly look and take in this life, I can say “Yes, even with sickness, old age and death, I can have a practice—and it’s going to be alright, and more than alright, and more than going to be: it’s lovely now.” There’s a Zen koan that goes “Say something backwards.” “This isn’t it” is pretty close to “What if this is it?” All good moments are fragments of practice, slices of enlightenment. We see that goodness is a capacity in everything alive. ARTWORK:WWW.ETSY.COM/CA/SHOP/COCOMILLA SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2015 64