Sometimes I get annoyed when I turn to someone with a personal conundrum, only to be told to “get over it.” What it sounds to me is that the thing’s not worth paying attention to and that I may be stupid to give it so much thought. At least that’s what the little voice of insecurity has me believe.
Tilopada (988–1069), the founder of a branch of Tibetan Buddhism, is credited with the line: “No thought, no reflection, no analysis, no cultivation, no intention; let it settle itself.” And the Heart Sutra, consisting of 16 sentences that summarize the essence (the ‘heart’) of Buddhist teachings, contains this stanza:
All things are empty:
Nothing is born, nothing dies,
nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases.
Throws a different light on my troubles, doesn’t it. It situates them not as stupid or unworthy of consideration, but as self-made and imagined. Sure, life’s path is studded with obstacles –illness, disagreements, disasters, war, old age, death, for instance — but things themselves are mere things, often random and without apparent cause, mostly beyond our control.
My young “get over it” friends may be closer to the truth that I (and even they) realize. Much of what I see as life’s difficulties is not inherent in life itself, but in the ways I react to its unfolding. Instead of scheming for ways to manage or overcome obstacles, I’m invited to seek their root causes inside — and beyond — my thinking mind. Sitting still and becoming aware of my breath will take me there. Along the way, as Ugo Betti assures us, “The torch of doubt and chaos, this is what the sage steers by.”
p.s. “My young friends” is code for a composite of people who subscribe to a “Do it!” (Nike slogan) attitude; perhaps it’s a generational thing. image: The Heart Sutra as a calligraphy practice at theartofcalligraphy.com.