American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron has a very clear and down-to-earth way of expressing Buddhist teachings. This quote on pleasure and pain talks about being with our experience during meditation. But it also applies to being with our experience whatever we are doing – so if you are not a meditator, it still applies to you.
Wakefulness is Found in Pleasure and Pain.
In practicing meditation, we are not trying to live up to some kind of ideal – quite the opposite. We’re just being with our experience, whatever it is. If our experience is that sometimes we have some kind of perspective, and sometimes we have none, then that’s our experience. If sometimes we can approach what scares us, and sometimes we absolutely can’t, then that’s our experience. “This very moment is the perfect teacher, and it’s always with us” is really a most profound instruction. Just seeing what’s going on – that’s the teaching right there. We can be with what’s happening and not dissociate. Awakeness is found in our pleasure and pain, confusion and all wisdom, available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary, everyday lives. Pema Chodron
When we are ill, afraid, or in pain, just being with our experience, not denying it or resisting it, may be the most helpful thing we can do. When we can truly be with our experience, we can become curious, and open to it, rather than being afraid. It is only when we can completely accept our experience as it is, that we have hope of transforming it. Strangely, when we are awake to what is, and can accept both pleasure and pain as part of our experience in the moment, we may find that there is little to choose between them.
How does this Buddhist quote on pleasure and pain, fit with your experience? Leave a comment below.