Bridge of Life

Shambahla Sun recently explored ‘an ancient set of Buddhist slogans’ and paired six of them with powerful techniques to ‘transform life’s difficulties into awakening and benefit’ with guidance from Zen teacher Norman Fischer.

Taking these magnificent mantras and the lessons that can be pulled from them—we’ve highlighted three to explore and examine— sharing how to implement their power into our daily lives.  Highlighting one mantra each week for the next three weeks, cherish these as treasures to enlighten and enhance our everyday existence.  I know I will. Enjoy!

1. Turn All Mishaps Into the Path

There’s a yin and yang of our daily existence; we feel happy and powerful when things go right and we’re sad and defeated when things go wrong. The reciprocal of those most glorious peaks are those seemingly desolate valleys—and when we descend from those peaks into the valleys, we lock ourselves in fear. It’s tough to wrap our minds around the idea of accepting our most tumultuous days as part of the journey and utilizing them as tools to continue moving forward.

How do we find harmony and balance between the highs and lows? The key is practicing patience. According to Fischer, “Patience is the capacity to welcome difficulty when it comes, with a spirit of strength, endurance, forbearance, and dignity rather than fear, anxiety, and avoidance.”

Nobody wants to feel bad— angry, depressed, defeated or otherwise. Instead of avoiding those feelings altogether, however, our power comes from moving through suffering utilizing the positive counterpoints to combat the negative feelings. We can accomplish that through patience and courage.

I agree very much with Fletcher when he explains: “While trying to avoid difficulty may be natural and understandable, it actually doesn’t work. We think it makes sense to protect ourselves from pain, but our self-protection ends up causing us deeper pain. We think we have to hold on to what we have, but our very holding on causes us to lose what we have.”

He goes on to note that many of us are living dangerously without even knowing it. Because we’re ‘attached to what we like and try to avoid what we don’t like’ we try to keep what’s good and cast out what’s negative. We believe that avoidance is the best way to deal with what makes us uncomfortable; it’s not.  We need to step through pain, not away from it.

Difficulties, when challenged with positive emotion, will undoubtedly reach positive results—so long as we are patient and give ourselves the opportunity to get past them in The Universe’s time instead of our own. This, as challenging as it sounds, will put us in a place where we’re able to feel gratitude in a new and defining way.

Meditate on this consciously: ruminating on the idea of “Turning all mishaps into the path.” Write it down, sit with it, whatever helps to practice it—and watch how quickly your mind and heart will change!

Once you experience one moment of reacting differently, you’ll begin to be aware of your behavior and your ability to be mindful of it. It’s the ability to look at life and say, “this is what it is—now how am I going to tackle it to find gratitude for its necessity to my journey?” Conquering dark thoughts with light can only increase your ability to be happy.

What’s next? The second mantra will be “Be Grateful to Everyone.” This idea explores a seemingly simply concept that can yield incredibly powerful results.

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