|Broken Glass, North Wales|
An important part of the Zen Way is learning to meet difficulties without reactively running away from the pain or rushing to find a fix for the situation. Facing what is present requires a great deal of courage, and an ever increasing capacity to stay with challenges until they either transform, on their own, into something else, or until a path of transformation is revealed. In my own experience this transformation and/or revelation is subtle and may not necessarily feel like it's heading in a positive direction. But things have a way of revealing their essence if we can stay present to what is here, now.
Along these lines, I was very encouraged by the following quote from a Sufi teacher, H. I. Khan, from an article by my mindfulness mentor and friend Saki Santorelli. The purpose of transforming suffering by learning to bear it is a part of the bodhisattva path. As we realize our bodhisattva nature, we discover that we are a part of everything else in the entire universe. And so, anything we do to facilitate our own healing helps to heal the world.The transformation of suffering is not for our own self-improvement, but a necessary part of realizing our bodhisattva nature -- that we are all connected and that our own healing is ultimately a part of healing others and the entire world.
….”There have been hearts that have been exposed to fire for a long, long time, and there comes a sulphury water from them, purifying and healing; for it has gone through fire, it has gone through suffering, and therefore, it heals those who suffer. There are hearts with many different qualities, like water with different chemical substances: those who have suffered, those to whom life has taught patience, those who have contemplated. They all represent one or other kind of the water that heals, and so do their personalities. People who have deep appreciation of any kind, of suffering, of agony, of love, of hate, of solitude, of association, of success, of failure, all have a particular quality, a quality that has special use for others. And when a person realizes this, he will come to the conclusion that whatever has been their life’s destiny, his heart has prepared a chemical substance through sorrow and pain, through joy or through pleasure, a chemical substance that is intended for a certain purpose, for the use of humanity, and that he can only give it out if he can keep his heart awakened and open. “
-- Khan, H.I.: The Heart Quality In Sufi Teachings,Volume VIII