Open to Vastness
You’ve had many tastes of the ever-present mystery of life when you’ve fallen in love or been present at the birth of a child, or by the timeless silence when you saw the Grand Canyon or looked through a telescope at the stars and galaxies. In those moments your concerns were not with your difficulties—you were held by the miraculous presence of eternity.
Eternity is here, always, waiting in the present moment. We must learn how to return to the reality of the present moment even in the most difficult times. Otherwise we become lost in the past that no longer exists or fantasies about the future which is yet to come. In the present moment and we learn to see clearly and kindly. With the great power of mindfulness, we can become fully present to the unbearable beauty and the inevitable tragedy that makes up human life. We can honorably and fully experience this one and only life that we have been given, with all its ups and downs. In my own life, I try to remember the words many of us have heard from the Ojibway Indians: “Sometimes I go about pitying myself when all the while I’m being carried by great winds across the sky.”
The past is gone.
The future is not yet here.
You can be present for this moment.
What you do now will create your future.
It is the nature of life for difficulties to arise and there are new challenging times yet ahead. This is our human lot, and our calling. It is how we grow. As Michael Jordan has said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my basketball career, I’ve lost almost 300 games, 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life, but I still keep going out on the court. And that’s why I succeed.”
I hope that when future difficulties arise your path of healing will not be as long or dark. For just as it is certain that each life will include suffering, it is also true that in every moment there is the possibility of transcending your difficulties to discover the heart’s eternal freedom that lies just beneath the surface. For, as the poet Pablo Neruda has written, “You can pick all the flowers, but you can’t stop the spring.”
As you go through this difficult time
sense how many other people on this earth
are facing the same problems: loss, conflict, divorce.
Feel your common humanity with them.
When you can awaken your sympathy, courage often follows.
This excerpt is taken from the book, “A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating the Path Through Difficult Times”