Everything is rolling along nicely, health is slowly restored, a bit of money set aside, and robins busy building spring-time nests. What could be finer? (Well, there’s always something that could be “improved,” but that’s the voice of greed talking.)
Then, out of left field, when least expected, comes flying an obstacles of some kind, the proverbial fly in the ointment. In my case, someone writes to criticize my ways, makes demands on my time that are beyond my willingness to give, asks why I haven’t replied to an oh-so-urgent email, and so on. Even on this well-intentioned blog there’s disagreement among commentators. Rats!
Time to revisit the path of obstacles or, more accurately, the obstacles that are the path. And a reminder by the poet Antonio Machado that “There is no path. Paths are made by walking.” I dread this realization as it intrudes on my comfort zone to foreshadow work that has to be done. So I turn to the writing of Zen teacher Ezra Bayda who advises us to ask: “Can I welcome this as my path?”
Understanding that our distressful situation is exactly what we need to work with in order to be free is essential. For instance, the person we find most irritating becomes a mirror–you could call this person “irritating Buddha”–reflecting back to us exactly where we’re stuck. …
[This may lead us to feeling] helpless when our usual props break down. This can easily turn into hopelessness and negativity–but this barrier of suffering is only a barrier until we see through it. Seeing through it can lead us to an amazing discovery: that our distress turns into hopelessness only when we forget that it’s our teacher.
source: Bayda, E. (2009). Zen heart: simple advice for living with mindfulness and compassion. Boston: Shambhala, pp. 92-93. image: kamloopsphotoarts.ca