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Lions Roar : September 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2010 67 or circle around like cherubim? i don’t think so. More likely, one of them throws a tantrum and one of them throws up on you. does your partner serve you a fabulous dinner, give you flowers, and invite you for a night of wild passion? not as often as we wish. if you live alone, the feedback may be the unpaid bills in the mailbox, the pet that pees on the floor, or other unexpected greetings. sometimes the rev- elations are much more painful than this: illnesses revealed, infidelities confessed, jobs lost. of course this doesn’t always happen, but it’s not uncommon. in other contexts, people experience a similar painful contrast between their professional and personal lives. My reaction to this jarring con- trast is often: “why me? i don’t deserve this. why doesn’t my life appreciate me? Poor me.” it’s not just beginning meditators who encoun- ter the seeming ingratitude of the world. great teachers also are presented with obstacles that seem beyond their control, often when they are on the verge of a spiritual breakthrough. the ti- betan yogi Milarepa had been meditating alone in a cave for a number of years. tired, hungry, and worn down by practice, he went out to gather fire- wood near his cave. a cold wind whipped off his and the attendant awareness it brings are just another panacea. in a sense, this is a natural beginner’s approach and it can be help- ful, but it doesn’t work for the long haul. eventually, whether it’s in the next moment, the next year, or the next decade, we all encounter the challenges of old age, sickness, and death, both in those around us and in ourselves. we may think that these things are an intrusion onto what we call “life,” rather than seeing them as the stuff of life itself. But these are parts of life that we have to befriend. the basic dissatisfaction of not getting what we want is al- ways there and it is a great friend, a great teacher. in part, it is for this reason that the toughest challenges— the things and the people that we feel we can’t appre- ciate and the problems we can’t seem to solve—are the most important for us to work with. those moments and events that bring us the deepest sadness and hurt may be the most precious of all. they have the most potential to awaken us. we learn from disappointment. Many of us, for ex- ample, have attended a meditation program or group retreat that we feel has had a life-changing effect on us. we feel terrific, transformed by the program— open, good, awake, inspired, insightful, etc. then we go home. do your children fall gratefully at your feet Carolyn rose Gimian is the editor of smile at Fear: awakening the true Heart of Bravery, by Chögyam Trungpa. she is the founding director of the shambhala archives and is a primary editor of Trungpa rinpoche’s books, including his Collected works. Carolyn rose GImIan suggests a slogan to inspire our meditation-in-action.