In my ongoing pursuit of understanding the first noble truth, I wanted to link to an article I just read in the very excellent Lion’s Roar web site. The article is entitled “Are We Really Meditating” and includes the following paragraph [emphasis mine]:
The Buddha, in his very first teaching, said, “There is suffering.” Sometimes we mistakenly interpret this to mean that we are doomed to suffer. I take the Buddha’s words as an invitation to practice nonviolence toward my inner and outer worlds. In this simple but powerful statement, the Buddha suggests that suffering is not something we can fix, ignore, or get rid of. Rather, he is intimating that practice provides the ability to make ourselves big enough to include both the pain and beauty of the human condition—not only our own but also that of others.
Our ability to bear witness to suffering without pushing it away or getting overwhelmed is linked to liberation. What is experience before we shrink from it, try to subdue it, or manipulate it? This is thequestion for practitioners.
Typically, I think of accommodating suffering and experience as having to do with equanimity, but choosing to look at it as making oneself “big enough” is interesting to me. For one thing, it’s very simple. For another, it echoes the contrast between being small, tight, solid and being big, expansive, open and available.
In my worldly circumstances lately, I’ve been trying to better understand how practice can help with the stresses in my life. Something as simple as ‘being big enough to include the pain and beauty’ of life is a great answer to this question. I’ll have to sit with that tonight.