|Yarrow Flower at Boundless Way Temple, photo by Jenny Smith|
A dear friend and I were recently talking about the word "dukkha" -- the First Noble Truth of the Buddha, which literally means "out of balance" like a wheel on a cart that is not on straight, and so makes the sound "duk, duk, duk" as it travels down the road. Dukkha has most often, in the West, been translated as "suffering" and it also has the meaning of "uncomfortable." The range of dukkha is wide -- from unbearable physical pain to a mild sense that something is wrong. As the concept of dukkha has travelled to the West it has changed its meaning from a description of a perceived reality that is universal to a purely psychological, private phenomenon. Only noticing our own dukkha prevents us from opening our hearts to a world on fire -- our attempts at blocking the reality of universal suffering keep our hearts protected, but don't allow us to face the suffering that arises everywhere. The heart of a bodhisattva, a wisdom being who is devoted to healing suffering, must learn to open to this universal sense of something being wrong, even when happiness arises in our hearts and in our personal lives. Happiness and dukkha can exist together, and the happiness that includes dukkha has a different taste than a happiness that is carefully guarded and kept to oneself.
Today I have a cold, and the wind and rain are wild and untamed. Children are dying on the Syrian border, and in many other places. People are being cruel to each other in endlessly creative ways, ranging from physical violence to nasty words exchanged on Twitter. And, and, and -- a friend sent a photo of a yarrow flower at the Temple giving a home to many different insects. The sky changes from gray to blue, and the clouds move through the sky. My nostrils clear, and I can breath with ease, and then my nose starts to run. Personal, universal, grief, joy -- all moving in an out of awareness. This is the life of a bodhisattva. Don't ignore any part of this wild and moving life.