Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Raging Rapids

Last weekend, my wife Jen and I were on a weekend retreat with Pema Chodron, perhaps our best-loved American-born Buddhist teacher. Pema often offers good advice about working with the lessons life gives us, but there were a couple nuggets, as always, that really struck me.

Right now it feels like there is so much happening. Chaos at work and in personal relationships and around the world. Emotions and tensions running rampant. I feel like I'm being buffeted by a storm, and a lot of people I know have similar feelings.

When I feel like I don't know what's happening or what's next, the first thing I do is look for solid ground. Something to hold onto, to call my own. It seems to be instinct, to think that first, there is something solid to hang onto, and second, that we can find it and grab it.

Pema reminded us this weekend, though, that when the water is running fastest, when the rapids are at their whitest, the safest thing to do is let go. Let the river carry you. If you try to cling, to anything, the current is just going to pound you against the rocks.

True, you may not always like what happens when you let go, but you will eventually emerge. And you may be surprised by what comes when you allow your life to be more in flow.

See if this is true in your own life. I know it's been true in mine. The way past troubles is not around, but through. Go right into the difficulties, right into the white water. When I hang on, when I resist what is, I only hurt myself.


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