How to Rise from the "Bottomless" Pit of Pain
- TheDailyEnlightenment.comWeekly 07.12.07
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Click here if you do not see pictures below___________________________________________Realisation: How to Rise from the "Bottomless" Pit of Pain
Misery's only necessary function is to remind us that it is unnecessary. - stonepeace
In the beloved classic "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a boy visits a drunkard. He asked him what he was doing. Mournfully, the drinker says he is drinking. The boy further asked why he was doing so. And the answer was "To forget." "To forget what?" the boy asked sympathetically. "To forget that I'm ashamed." The compassionate boy pressed on, "Ashamed of what?" The drunk replies ironically, "Ashamed of drinking!" The visit was short, but it left the boy deeply melancholic, wondering about why "grown-ups" can be so strange. It is naturally saddening to see another wallow in misery, especially when one needs not. With wide-eyed curiosity of a child, some adults are simply not truly "grown up" yet.
The drunkard was caught in a web of illogical circular "logic". It is obvious that he should simply quit drinking to end his shame instead of perpetuating it. If he was mindful enough, his exchange with the boy would have awakened him. Perhaps he picked up the bottle over a past unhappiness that he could not longer remember with his intoxication, that has compounded into a greater present unhappiness of having become an alcoholic. Attempting to drown one's sorrows via loss of mindfulness is like craving to quench one's thirst with sea water. It simply doesn't work - while there might be the illusion that it does works. Only with wakeful awareness can we ever climb out of the otherwise bottomless abyss of suffering.
While most might not be drunkards, too many trap themselves in similarly pointless circular situations - when we are "intoxicated" by troubles in mind. To this, Shantideva offers succinct advice - "If something can be changed, what is the need of worrying? If you cannot do anything to change it, what is the use of worrying?" If an unhappy situation can be changed, we should just change it. If not, unhappiness over it is useless; it would be wiser to accept "unchangeable" situations graciously. The drunkard might feel crippled by worry of inability to change his situation. Since alcoholics can change, he should simply do his best to face sober reality. The truth is, everything changes eventually; only the Dharma and realisation of it lasts. - Shen Shi'an
The truth sobers one as greatly as the deceit have intoxicated. - stonepeace
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