HOW TO HOLD GREAT SUFFERING
With all the news and images of what is happening in Ukraine and around the world, there is a pressing need to find a way to reckon with suffering.
For Buddhists it is our goal to be completely present with the reality of suffering. Alternatively, we can ignore, avoid and deny suffering, or pretend it doesn’t exist but that is said to be the realm of the gods. Or sometimes it is a trauma response when we can’t handle dealing with things and shut down. Sadly, denial is ultimately only ever a temporary response. But if we don’t ignore it – there is this enormous demand – cognitively, emotionally, physically, socially, to make sense of what we see, to find some way to keep breathing with it, to keep showing up to a reality that includes this great suffering.
In Buddhism we can turn towards it and be with suffering – walking with suffering. As Thich Nhat Hahn said, “Buddhism teaches us not to run away from suffering, You have to confront suffering. You have to look deeply into the nature of suffering in order to recognize its cause, the making of the suffering.” This is also a somatic experience- it can be brutal at times to feel it, to turn towards it. We need support and really strong methods to be able to do this, ways to calm down, metabolize and integrate with it.
We can also let suffering change us, rather than live in a state of suspension waiting for things to go back to how it was. Experiencing suffering or witnessing someone else’s suffering can be overwhelming and it is natural to want to grab on to how things were. But we can also step into, take it in and as Joan Halifax says, “let it ourselves be worked by it.” The feelings of powerlessness, the rage, the not knowing, the sorrow, the longing, we can turn towards it and breathe into it, bringing compassion to bear on our own experience as we soften and let suffering change us.
We can allow suffering to reshape how we see ourselves and our world. What I have appreciated about crisis in my own life is that it brings with it a dismantling of lesser priorities and a deeper relationship with the contours of reality as it is. Suffering reveals what really matters. Suffering can be a very sobering experience. If we let ourselves be changed by it, we can live a more authentic life.
We can also meet suffering with compassion, without which it can be overwhelming. There is no enduring resilience without compassion – the wish for ourselves and others to be free from suffering. It is something to be thinking about when we see horrific images or think of terrible events to also wish for the relief from suffering, and envision that – to pray, to visualize in the manner of tonglen. This compassion is the basis for us take appropriate action wherever we can, but it is also a way to relate to the things we are otherwise powerless to change.
May all beings be free from suffering and the cause of suffering.
My very best to you always,
A one day meditation retreat online devoted to gentle quiet, deep rest and introspection.
Join Pema Khandro and the Buddhist Studies Institute for a day of guided meditations, restorative yoga, chanting the White Tara meditation and contemplating dharma poetry. Drawing on the great poets of Buddhism, Pema Khandro will teach on Longchenpa’s instructions for Finding Comfort and Ease in the nature of mind.
Restorative Yoga practices led by BSI faculty will focus on establish deep states of rest and ease in the body.
White Tara Meditation led by the Group Leaders will raise the wisdom energy of White Tara who rescues beings from calamities, disasters and wars.
Community Tea time will offer an opportunity for dharma conversation with like minded dharma friends. Participants are encouraged to bring their favorite dharma poem to share in small groups.
This one day retreat will offer an opportunity for quiet, meditation, contemplation and conversation. It is open to participation by guests with all levels of experience, new and long time practitioners alike.
HELP US CHANGE HOW MEDITATION IS TAUGHT
150 Hour Certification Training
Begins March 26, 2022
Learn how to support others in finding the freedom that comes from being able to control one’s own mind.
As people all over the world turn to Buddhist meditation as a source of wisdom, we recognize the need for meditation teachers that are trained to meet the challenges of the future while remaining deeply connected to the robust philosophy, ethics, and practices of Tibetan Buddhism.
Meditation Instructor Training focuses on five forms of meditation, known as calm abiding meditation – Zhine, in Tibetan. The goal is resting in calm space of presence, to train to rest in the wakeful present moment, which is the only constant thing in life. Circumstances and bodies change, everything changes, but the capacity for wakeful presence remains. This is where we can find home, rest, and know exactly what we are.
with Pema Khandro
Self-Paced Course Online
Open Teaching – No Prerequisites
This Course focuses on the Tibetan Buddhist methods for navigating Dream, Waking Life, and Sleep.
Considered the practice most similar to our experience at death, Dream Yoga is about navigating in the real and unreal aspects of our experience without falling asleep to awareness. It is a practice of recognizing the nature of our minds.
Waking, dreaming, and deep sleep present transformations of perception and they highlight the continuity and discontinuity of experience. Through recognizing the opportunities for meditative awareness in these states, we can understand our own minds and face all our experiences with greater presence. A teaching based on the Six Yogas of Naropa – which is a system of harnessing ordinary experience for awakening.
UPCOMING CALENDAR AT A GLANCE
Every Monday – Ngondro Practice with Tsalgyur
1st & 2nd Weds – Vajrayana Training with Pema Khandro
3rd Weds – Ngakpa Training – Pre-requisites requited
4th Weds – Excellent Path with Pema Khandro