Releasing the Arrow
by Thich Nhat Hanh from No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering
There is a Buddhist teaching found in the Sallatha Sutta, known as The Arrow. It says if an arrow hits you, you will feel pain in that part of your body where the arrow hit; and then if a second arrow comes and strikes exactly at the same spot, the pain will not be only double, it will become at least ten times more intense.
The unwelcome things that sometimes happen in life—being rejected, losing a valuable object, failing a test, getting injured in an accident—are analogous to the first arrow. They cause some pain. The second arrow, fired by our own selves, is our reaction, our storyline, and our anxiety. All these things magnify the suffering. Many times, the ultimate disaster we’re ruminating upon hasn’t even happened. We may worry, for example, that we have cancer and that we’re going to die soon. We don’t know, and our fear of the unknown makes the pain grow even bigger.
The second arrow may take the form of judgment (“how could I have been so stupid?”), fear (“what if the pain doesn’t go away?”), or anger (“I hate that I’m in pain. I don’t deserve this!”). We can quickly conjure up a hell realm of negativity in our minds that multiplies the stress of the actual event, by ten times or even more. Part of the art of suffering well is learning not to magnify our pain by getting carried away in fear, anger, and despair. We build and maintain our energy reserves to handle the big sufferings; the little sufferings we can let go.
Living our life fully and deeply requires courage. If we cannot be happy, right here and right now, we need to ask ourselves why. If we’re having difficulty touching peace and the wonders of the cosmos in our daily life, there must be something getting in the way. We need to find out what it is. What’s weighing us down or pulling us away from the present moment? Continue reading
WE NOW ASK YOU TO SEE BEFORE YOU A LADDER. AND it is a wooden ladder and it is very, very straight. And you stand at the base of the ladder and you look up and you cannot see the top of the ladder because it goes so high into the clouds. And we ask you now to place your hands on the rungs of the ladder. And you feel them in your hands as wood, as smooth, as solid, and as supporting you clearly and capably in their firmness. And you put one hand above the other and you begin to rise up the ladder, one rung at a time. And as you do, your frequency begins to lift and you begin to move higher and higher in frequency as you rise up on this ladder in energy.
Lord Acton has said: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” No, that is not right. Power never corrupts, it only brings corruption out. How can power corrupt?
I believe and I trust
I let go and Just be
I love and give my heart a chance to speak
I am prepared.
our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.
—H. JACKSON BROWNE
Communion is possible, but not communication. This has to be understood from the very beginning. Communion is a totally different dimension: two hearts meet; it is a love affair. Communication is from head to head; communion is from heart to heart, communion is a feeling.
We all have a life, but we are not always aware of how precious it is. And we all have an ego, but we do not always take enough responsibility for it. Our sufferings, or our doomed attempts to avoid them, all too often keep us mired in obsessive attachment, greed, worry, or despair.