Yesterday I visited my sister-in-law’s block of land with the grandchildren. Situated near Mt Barney, the block is a haven of peacefulness. We took the grandchildren out there to cook some sausages over a fire and let them run around and burn off excess energy. Whilst everyone trooped off down the hill later to feed the goats, I stayed behind in the shed flicking through some of my SIL’s books. The peace enveloped me. The only sounds I could hear were the birds, the wind in the leaves of the trees and the faint sound of the children laughing and running.
Finding a book of the teachings of Ajahn Chah, I began reading. Not far in, I found a passage that resonated with me so I wrote it down.
“People if they don’t feel pain, don’t open their eyes. If they’re happy, everything shuts down and they get lazy. When suffering stabs you: that’s what gets you thinking and you can really expand your awareness. The greater the pain, the more you have to investigate it to see what causes it. You can’t just sit there and let the pain go away on its own…..
The same with stress and pain: Why is it heavy? Why is it painful? Because you’re holding on to it. But you don’t understand that it’s stressful. You think that it is something special, something good. When you’re told to let it go, you can’t let it go. When you’re told to put it down, you can’t put it down. So you keep on being heavy. Keep on suffering.”
– Venerable Ajahn Chah
It’s not the first time I have heard this lesson. There is a story doing the rounds of Facebook and other social media that explores the same thing.
A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question.Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: …“How heavy is this glass of water?”Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.” It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down! -author unknown ~
Events and situations don’t have any meaning until we ascribe meaning to them.
What was said to you by a co-worker has no affect unless you allow it to. The situations of the past – likewise.The words spoken by Ajahn Chah “People if they don’t feel pain, don’t open their eyes” resonated with me. Many, many of us have suffered pain of some kind in our lives and rather than embracing that pain, learning from it and moving on we allow it to hang around and drag us down. Sometimes dealing with pain and grief takes a long time and that is to be expected however we all must move on and live our lives.
As we continue to hang on to issues, the pain grows stronger and becomes numbing and paralysing. I could hold a feather in my hand rather than a glass of water and after a while that feather would weigh as much as an elephant.
Yesterday, I found a teacher in a book.
He taught me that I need to explore what makes me stressed and deal with it.
He taught me that constantly thinking about it will make me ill.
He taught me that life does have pain and that is what makes us learn and grow.
But I have learned that whilst I have pain, I need to not allow it to become more than what it is in the first instance.
By exploring and dealing with the cause of the pain, I will grow stronger and more aware.
I would say that this is a lesson well learned by all.