I have spoken in the past about themes that show up in our lives. Another one has arisen for me that I think needs to be shared.
On Saturday I attended a World Peace Chant, it is a Buddhist gathering that takes place once a month at a local sangha (community) where they chant for world peace. Hence the name, World Peace Chant…Hee hee. Anyways, as part of the program they had different speakers come up and share their experience since becoming Buddhist and incorporating chanting in their lives. One of the speakers talked about a Buddhist teacher of Nichiren Buddhism who says, in a nutshell (The nutshell) that we choose our path in life before we are born. Including all of the challenges and suffering and triumphs and setbacks and joys. All of it.
The choices we made, regardless of how great our suffering feels, was chosen by us. When I first heard that, I was having a pretty good day and so I thought “Yea, I can get behind that. I feel pretty ok, I can tolerate that thought.” Until the shit hit the fan and I was thrown into confusion, sadness and the feeling that things are completely out of control. THEN, I said “Fuck that noise. I would never choose this shit. And no one else I know would CHOOSE their suffering.”
Super enlightened, right?
Upon deeper reflection and actually trying to understand the teachings meaning; I learned that the reason we chose our paths, suffering and joy included, is because our true nature, our spirit, our essence, KNEW, really truly KNEW that we could do this. That we are strong enough to withstand the pain and the happiness and to GROW.
Imagine your true essence, in heaven or the ether or wherever you believe, and picture yourself walking through the grocery store of life choices. Knowing that whatever you put in the basket was going to teach you something essential to your growth and enlightenment. I see myself, being the overachiever that I am, tossing stuff in the cart willy nilly saying “I got this!” And then I think “She was an idiot and really overestimated our abilities.”
All kidding aside, what if that were true? What if we could hold onto the knowledge that some other, higher, more enlightened part of ourselves knew to the very core, that we could DO this. That we could handle these challenges and learn and grow. And even if we don’t manage to do it gracefully, we are still doing it and we are ok….We are ok.
What comfort that thought has brought me over the last few days. I am certainly not perfect, life has its challenges and damn painful heartaches and so I am going to hold onto this. This belief that says I knew what I was doing when I chose this, that I was not willy nilly. That I was thoughtful and conscious in the choices I made for myself with the plan that I would learn and grow.
Looking back on my life thus far, I feel pretty certain this is true. I have survived every obstacle and triumph and grown from all of them. Not always making the best choices, but definitely learning from every choice I have made. And that offers me comfort and faith that I am ok and I am safe and I am capable.
I hope this also can offer you comfort during times of pain and confusion. One thing I would like to say, in life, take the parts that feel true and right to you and apply them to your life. If it does not feel true and right to you, let it go.
Thankful for life themes,