‘Anything that annoys you is for teaching you patience.
Anyone who abandons you is for
teaching you how to stand up
on your own two feet.
Anything that angers you is for teaching you forgiveness and compassion.
Anything that has power over you is for teaching you how to take your power back.
Anything you hate is for
teaching you unconditional love.
Anything you fear is for
teaching you courage to
overcome your fear.
Anything you can’t control is for teaching you how to let go and trust the Universe.’
“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know…nothing ever really attacks us except our own confusion. Perhaps there is no solid obstacle except our own need to protect ourselves from being touched. Maybe the only enemy is that we don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. But what we find as practitioners is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. If we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. It just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.”
Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
‘In my short time on this planet, I have known great sorrow, plunged into the depths of oceanic despair, been thrown so deeply into my loneliness that I thought I would never return. I have tasted the ecstatic joys of meditation, the fierce intimacy of love, the savage pains of heartbreak, the excitement of unexpected success and the blows of sudden failure. There were times when I thought I’d never make it, times when my dreams had been shattered so thoroughly I couldn’t imagine how life could ever go on. Yet it went on, and sometimes I found humility within the devastation, and out of the ashes of imagined futures often grew new and present joys, and no experience was ever wasted.
I have come to trust life completely, trust even the times when I forget how to trust at all, trust that life doesn’t always go according to plan, because there is no plan, only life, and even the times of great uncertainty hold supreme intelligence, and sometimes you have to fall to stand more fearlessly, with greater kindness.
And somehow I am always held, in a way I cannot explain and do not want to. I may be crushed yet again before too long, I may experience further seemingly insurmountable challenges and heartbreaks, but somehow I am always held. Somehow I am always held.’
Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.
On the other hand, wretchedness–life’s painful aspect–softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose–you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.
~ Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide To Compassionate Living