I thought when I started Journey of the Heart, that when the heart opened it would open to love, joy, celebration, awe, and creativity–the things that I identify as “positive”. But I have discovered that when the heart opens, it also opens to those things that need love, i.e. those things that feel alone, lonely, hurt, distressed, ignored, neglected, painful, and suffering.
Sometimes what I experience is painful, or difficult. Sometimes there is something that happens–someone does something, says something, or something turns out in a way I did not expect, and I feel hurt and sad.
Recently though, there are times…when I just feel my heart open and I feel a pain that comes from nowhere and has no apparent cause.
It’s as though there is just something within that needs comfort and understanding, something suffering that wants to be held and loved. I don’t feel like it’s “me”, it’s just something.
This morning when this happened, I thought about the Four Noble Truths (basic teachings of Buddha Dharma):
The Truth of Suffering (Suffering exists)
The Truth of the Cause of Suffering (Suffering has a cause)
The Truth of the End of Suffering (Since suffering has a cause, we can find it and eliminate it)
The Truth of the Path leading to the End of Suffering (Buddha Dharma teaches how to find the cause of suffering and eliminate it)
At the same time I thought about the Four Noble Truths, this thought was immediately juxtaposed with those Truths:
I feel One with the Source of the Law of Life
It was as though the ideas were overlaid, inseparable, but how? What does this mean?
My first thought about this was, “Life encompasses everything–even suffering; suffering is part of life itself.” Then I thought, “Suffering can be eliminated, so life can also encompass the possibility of there being no suffering.”… “So, how can life exist both with suffering and without suffering?”… “Life is the unity of everything, including every possible possibility, which means the possibility of two opposites existing at the same time.”
I decided my brain was too small at the moment to continue the line of thought; however, as with such types of brain teasers, my mind felt a little bit bigger for it.
I changed the direction of my thoughts and thought more about the elimination of suffering. One of my favorite stories about the elimination of suffering is the story of how Green Tara came to be:
Tara is the mother of all Buddhas. One Buddha is Avelokiteshvara (also known as Guanyin). Avelokiteshvara/Guanyin is the great God/Goddess of compassionate action, and is often depicted with hundreds of arms. The arms depict action here! Action there! Action everywhere! This depiction is much the same as cartoons (think of Wile E. Coyote) which use many legs or arms to depict speeds or multiple actions.
Avelokiteshvara spent eons in compassionate action, helping people and souls find peace and freedom.
After eons of compassionate action, Avelokiteshvara paused a moment to look around, to see humankind’s progress, how much he had helped.
In looking around, he saw endless suffering, as though his eons of aid were for naught.
In his despair, a tear fell.
From the tear, Tara (Avelokiteshvara’s mother) manifested herself as Green Tara, who said to him, “Despair not! I will help you!”
Sometimes I feel despair with the state of the world. Sometimes I look around and see the cruelty, the ignorance, how we humans treat each other, animals, and the planet, and I feel so terribly sad.
There is an end to suffering. There is. The best I can do is strive for it, open my heart, learn, “be the change”, do the best I can to be the best person I can.
I would rather put my efforts toward assisting Avelokiteshvara and Green Tara, than making more suffering in the world.