Saturday, January 23, 2010

Befriending The Difficult

One of my main teachers in the Theravada vipassana tradition, Phillip Moffitt, likes to say that we have to "invite the difficult experiences in and serve them tea." It is somewhat like having annoying guests arrive at your home who have not phoned ahead. 

During our formal meditation practice, or at any time in our daily life, these guests may arrive. Of course, it is our preference that they not be here - is there ever a convenient time to have to entertain a difficult physical sensation, thought, or emotion? Yet, here they are. 

So instead of either pretending to not be home or slamming the door in their face, let them come in and invite them to sit with you. Get to know them a little bit, and you may discover that they are actually not as bad a guests as you had feared. They may even be able to offer you some valuable insights that you would have missed if you had shunned them. 

Besides, they won't stay all that long. Eventually, they will show themselves out, so you needn't be in a big hurry to hustle them out the back door.

The Guest House, by Rumi (Translation by Coleman Barks):
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
They may be clearing you out 
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent 
as a guide from beyond.

No comments:

Post a Comment