Suffering or Search

From our Guiding Teacher, Gregory Kramer

All around us, now, lessons of heartbreak. How do we bear it? How do we stay wide open and balanced in the face of raw pain? Do our tranquility and mindfulness, our confidence and wisdom function in this life as it actually is?

Once again, now in Newtown Connecticut, we are confronted with mindless killing. We are given another doorway into this world community where insecurity shows us new faces. We can retract in fear. We can tumble into emotional reactions of anger and sorrow. And, we may open our eyes further to the utter uncontrollability of life and the bottomless need for compassion. We can do that.

Empty reaction or clear hearted response: we have a choice. To make that choice, we need to pause. See the images of stunned children and weeping mothers and pause; recognize that from this contact between image and our own minds comes sorrow one moment, anger the next. Pause, and watch as thoughts of our own children, or gun control, or the fragility of life rise up, uninvited, unrejected. Pause even as an unexpected gulp of air, a sudden surge of tears whose source you don’t really know, swells forward. Just now, there is reaction and mindfulness. There is no gap.

This is our shared human experience. We share the mindfulness and the pain. We share these floods of thoughts and emotions, whatever their particular form. We share the capacity to know, to remain awake even in the face of tragedy. Especially in the face of tragedy. Like the woman who came to the Buddha, broken by life, and said, “Does anybody know a word or two to help with this suffering?” And right there, suffering turns to search.

May we be together, support each other, in this search.

Yours in the shared human experience,