Pema Chodron: What we call Suffering, The Buddha called The Path!

Via on Apr 11, 2011

~the article below is by Ben Riggs. It was inspired by the teaching from Pema Chodron, which is included at the bottom of the page.

The observation of neurotic energy is the path and it starts right now.

Right now is all we have. We will never have anything more. So, whatever arises–regardless of how neurotic it might be–is our path.

The path of meditation is a path that co-emerges with the path of suffering.

This is why a study of the first two noble truths is so important. Not merely a conceptual study, but a realistic examination of our own lives. We must conduct a fearless and thorough investigation of our own suffering and the causes and conditions, which give rise to that dissatisfaction. It is the discovery of our neurosis, and our willingness to relate with it–to see it as a pattern which defines or limits the nature of our experience–that enables us to walk the spiritual path.

Meditation is essentially walking backwards down the path that gives rise to suffering. Therefore, it is our discontentment, our own neurotic energy, that serves as the material we have to work with in meditation. So, the situations we generally refer to as obstacles are, in fact, the path.

H.H. the Dalai Lama has said,

“If you want to cultivate generosity you cannot view a beggar as an obstacle.”

Well, in the same way, an obnoxious co-worker is not a hindrance to the practice of patience, but an opportunity to discover your natural capacity to be patient. Furthermore, an attachment to a painful relationship or unhealthy situation is not preventing you from learning how to let go. The unhealthy relationship and the ensuing attachment are an invitation to let go.

Insanity is sanity—just misunderstood.

Basically, insanity is the quality of consciousness that arises when  thought is divorced from reality. This divorce or separation from reality is inspired by a false assumption. In relating to our neurotic energy, our insanity, we see it for what it is, and insight resolves all confusion. This is the restoration of sanity.

The observation of confusion is insight. Insight or wisdom is the mother of all Buddhas. So, when observation and confusion unite, the enlightened mind is born!

Before we can relate with our insanity we have to be willing to accept our neurotic tendencies. That is, we have to quit blaming our problems on others and/or the environment. We have to quit blaming our insanity on the past.We also have to stop rejecting ourselves, or saying, “This is silly. I shouldn’t be angry.” You are angry. So, stop and listen to the anger. Observe.

The observation of neurotic energy is the path and it starts right now. It doesn’t matter if right now is filled with a pristine awareness of life’s grandeur or neurotically preoccupied with trying to manipulate someone into fulfilling some selfish need. Right now is all you have. You will never have anything more. So, whatever arises–regardless  of how neurotic it might be–it is the path. It is all you have to work with. There is nothing else. So, listen to it. Find the intelligence which underlies your habitual commentary, because that intelligence is not only the path, it is the goal!

Take all obstacles to the path!

“Rather than seeing the unwanted aspects of life as obstacles, Jamgön Kongtrül presented them as the raw material necessary for awakening genuine uncontrived compassion.” ~Pema Chodron

In the remarkable teaching below, Pema Chodron elaborates on what I have said in the article above.

YouTube Preview Image

~via The Web Of Enlightenment

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About Benjamin Riggs

Ben Riggs is the director of the Refuge Meditation Group in Shreveport, LA. Ben writes extensively about Buddhist & Christian spirituality and politics for The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, The Web of Enlightenment, and is the editor & chief for Henry Harbor--an online magazine concerned with art, culture, spirituality, & politics in the deep South. To keep up with all of his work follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Looking for a real bio? Click here to read my story....

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9 Responses to “Pema Chodron: What we call Suffering, The Buddha called The Path!”

  1. [...] Our Gift, the Obstacle “Meditation is essentially walking backwards down the path that gives rise to suffering. Therefore, it is our discontentment, our own neurotic energy, that serves as the material we have to work with in meditation. So, the situations we generally refer to as obstacles are, in fact, the path.” -Ben Riggs [...]

  2. [...] Buddha tells us just the opposite. So when Buddha tells us to get rid of wrong views that cause suffering, we can listen to him in our quest to investigate our minds and figure out what is [...]

  3. [...] Chapter 6-a: What we call Suffering, The Buddha called The Path! [...]

  4. [...] your habitual commentary, because that intelligence is not only the path, it is the goal! ~from What we call Suffering, The Buddha called The Path! by Ben [...]

  5. [...] We weren’t lamenting—not at all, as both of us are quite happy with where the less-traveled paths have taken us—but rather just kind of laughing at the very human naiveté of the thought that we [...]

  6. [...] it turns out, materialistic people are less happy than non-materialistic people. Perhaps the Buddha’s second noble truth that “the root of all suffering is desiring, clinging, attachment” is beginning to ring true in [...]

  7. [...] Let’s lean into it and allow it to deepen our compassion. [...]

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