Greetings to all,
CALM IN THE FACE OF SUFFERING
I recently spoke with someone who went through a tragic loss in their life and felt they had fallen short of a Buddhist expectation for a calm and peaceful mind. There was a large “should” hanging over them but an equally large pain deep inside. As Buddhists, we aspire to certain virtues. What might come closest is the fourth of the Four Immeasurables, upekkha (equanimity), an even-mindedness amid experiences of pleasure and pain. This does not mean a coldness or indifference, but rather a state of dynamic balance where we are not agitated.
This virtue is not an absolute, but an aspiration. The extended training which is our practice will regularly display how we behave up to or less than our aspiration. We must begin somewhere and, like all training, it is a process where we grow and develop over time.
All Buddhist virtues apply, not just calm or upekkha. The most central one is karuna (compassion), our capacity to open ourselves to our own and, more importantly, the pain of all sentient beings. It is this awareness of the common experience of all beings which inspires us, as it does all Buddhas and bodhisattvas to set out on the Dharma path. As with any burden, we will struggle as we come to understand its meaning, we will stumble as we learn to carry it and we will grow to be able to carry it with a calm and peaceful mind too.
Yours in the Dharma,
om namo amida butsu