Since we were born, we are eventually going to die. I can only have this hope: that knowing that this doesn’t last forever, or even a very long time, will help us to be motivated on the path.

 

By Daniel Scharpenburg

We want to be able to face our pain and the pain of others. If we ignore pain, it’s difficult to manifest compassion.

We can’t transform our difficulties and challenges into the path if we aren’t facing our difficulties and challenges. Sometimes, people like to hide from their problems, and that tendency can be hard to overcome. People think spirituality is about feeling good and calm—it’s not, at least not on this path. It’s about facing your shit, about seeing reality as it is, and owning up to those parts of ourselves that we really need to work on. It’s about recognizing this fundamental truth: we have to cultivate our practice even when we are facing the most difficult moments, that’s the only way our practice is going to get us anywhere.

We’re all going to die. People spend a lot of time and money trying to hide from that fact, but it’s coming. It’s another unfortunate truth that we have to face.

The poet Charles Bukowski said, “We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities; we are eaten up by nothing.”

I love that quote because it’s true. Since we were born, we are eventually going to die. I can only have this hope: that knowing that this doesn’t last forever, or even a very long time, will help us to be motivated on the path. We want to live life more fully, to have more love, wisdom, and compassion because our lives are fleeting.

The flip-side of that is that we can’t practice only when things are hard.

We need to try to practice when everything seems to be going well too. We don’t want to focus just on impermanence and suffering. The hope is that our practice is also uplifting us, that we’re also practicing for life.

 

 

Photo: Pixabay

Editor: John Lee Pendall

 

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Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg lives in Kansas City. He's been practicing Buddhism for nearly 20 years. He teaches at the Open Heart Project Sangha and is a Zen Teacher (Fashi) in the Dharma Winds Zen Order. His main focus is on mindfulness practices rooted in the earliest Zen teachings and compassion practices rooted in the Bodhisattva Tradition. He has taken Bodhisattva Vows and Brahmajala Precepts and he is affiliated with the Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun.
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