Deep in my bones lately is the heightened awareness for the importance of staying in a state of loving kindness. It’s not just a nice gesture, it’s mandatory for our health. Perhaps I’m feeling it more now than usual because I’ve been in an over-doing mode and hit exhaustion. When our tank is empty it’s easy to relate to people and circumstances with judgement, anger, aversion and even resentment. These emotions send me into practice, with hyper diligence.
While negative emotions can arise justifiably, whether we hang onto them or not is up to us. The first noble truth is that pain is a part of life, period.
The second noble truth is what the Buddha refers to as the second arrow. It’s what we add to the pain that makes us suffer, like obsessive fear, jealousy, resentment, anger etc. This second arrow is dangerously toxic. The good news is that with practice it is avoidable.
In Alan Clements’ book Instinct For Freedom, he tells the story of a few monks that were prisoners of war in Burma. They were all staying in a cabin while he was writing. The monks were on the veranda laughing uncontrollably. That kind of contagious laugh that you walk into laughing before you even know the content. Alan stopped laughing to try and get the story. They were sharing some of the torture that they went through in prison. Alan stopped laughing and wanted to vomit in terror. These monks held no identity of being victimized. No matter how much their bodies were tortured, it stopped there. Their heart and spirit could not be imprisoned and the scars would not leave the surface. They didn't hate or resent their torturers as they knew it was all they knew. These monks had no intention of giving their life power away by becoming that victim.
To be free, we need to stay in a place of love. If we feed an animal who kills to survive there is a good chance that we are putting ourself in danger. Negativity also works that way. Don’t feed that wolf.
Our entertainment world takes stories of pain and glorifies the perfect revenge scenario to balance the score of suffering. If there is a person or circumstance that causes us pain and we succumb to hatred or resentment, we may be able to experience satisfaction by making the other suffer, but guaranteed the damage compounds in us instead. While these negative energies exist in us, they will corrode our mental, emotional and physical health.
I hold the torch of freedom that can evolve from loving kindness. No matter how difficult it is, it will be the greatest gift we will ever give ourselves. The more we practice, the more more resilient we will become.
Your life is precious. Don’t feed the wolf.