Tuesday, July 19, 2011

To Suffer Is To Practice

When I was taught that suffering and enlightenment are one in the same, it was hard for me to accept immediately.  I looked at it more deeply, over time realized how true it is.

Lotus Flowers
Everyone suffers daily.  To practice is how to handle the suffering, and work towards the end of that suffering.  I was listening to a Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, and he said, "Suffering is to enlightenment as mud is to the lotus flower.  Without suffering we cannot know enlightenment, without mud a lotus cannot bloom."  This makes sense why the lotus is such an icon and major symbol in Buddhism.

We can never truly stop suffering, it is a holy truth.  It's the manner in which we accept it and work with it that defines our practice.  From my own practice, much of my suffering stems from my desires and ego.  To each person it may be different in their practice.  This is also why enlightenment/Buddhism is a very personal experience and why the Buddha tells us to "Find our own light."

Having learned this personally, my practice has taken on more meaning.   To live is to suffer, to suffer is to practice, to practice is joy.  We are all enlightened beings and we all suffer. All we need is to practice with our lives to realize this and then we can know peace.


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