Friday, October 30, 2009

If We Finally Open Our Eyes

“It's odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don't quite fully share the hell of someone close to you.” ~ Lady Bird Johnson

According to “The Life of Buddha and His Greatness”, written by Narada Mahathera –

“One glorious day, as he went out of the palace to see the world outside, he came into direct contact with the stark realities of life. Within the narrow confines of the palaces, he saw only the rosy side of life; but the dark side, the common lot of mankind was veiled from him. His observant eyes met the strange sight of a decrepit old man, a diseased person, a corpse, and a dignified hermit. The first three sights convinced him of the inexorable nature of life and the universal sickness of humanity. The fourth signified the means to overcome the ills of life and attain calm and peace. Realizing the worthlessness of sensual pleasures highly prized by ordinary men, and the value of renunciation in which the wise seek delight, he decided to leave the world in search of Truth and Peace. With the march of time truth gradually dawned upon him. His contemplative nature and boundless compassion did not permit him to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of a royal household. He knew no woe, but he felt deep pity for sorrowing humanity. Amidst comfort and prosperity, he realized the universality of sorrow.”

Before venturing outside of his palace, Prince Siddhattha Gootama – later known as Buddha (the enlightened one) – lived a golden life, entirely unaware of the woes that affected humanity. In his world inside the palace walls, everything was perfect, and everything was done for him. Although I couldn’t find any literature indicating that he was ever dissatisfied with anything in particular, it is safe to assume that even the Buddha had his moments.

Something trivial might appear extremely important and devastating to us, until we are faced with greater challenges. Similarly, we become so absorbed into anything that happens within the confines of our own world, that we are often blind and deaf to the situations others are living. If everything is stable in our “bubble”, we find it hard to grasp that others on the outside may be living a much worse reality. We might be thinking that destiny is playing ugly tricks because our car broke down, or because we are experiencing minor health problems, or feel depressed because we can’t land the job of our dreams, but if we could truly see how many people lose more than a car or a job, or just how many live with chronic pain or a terminal illness, our problems would suddenly appear petty, even to us.

Sometimes stepping away from our personal dramas is key to “seeing” and learning how to be truly compassionate. And suddenly we will realize that our insurmountable blocks are nothing more than stepping stones on our path.

Information about the life of the Buddha can be found at:

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