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Monday, January 24, 2005

Samatha: Stopping

It's funny how when you're asking questions, the answers just happen to fall into your lap. There's some kind of "thing" (for lack of a more descriptive word), that happens to bring the answers to you. I apologize in advance for the length of this article, but I hope that it helps someone else and brings peace.

I just happened to remember one of my favorite Bhuddist Monk that teaches on peacefulness and meditation all the time. He's written some wonderful books and his name is Thich Nhat Hanh. He's vietnamese, but lives in France.

I know I talk about Bhuddism and it's teachings quite alot, which may seem to be contrary to my actual religion, Christianity. I'm a born again, spirit filled Christian who believes in a mono-deity, God, and the trinity, God the Father; God the Son (Jesus); and God the Holy Spirit. However, I feel that there is alot that we, as westerners, can learn from the Bhuddists and vice versa. I have also found that alot of times, the Bhuddist teachings can explain our own Biblical verses in some instances. Having explained my own position, I have to talk about a teaching I just read by Thich Nhat Hanh, that really answers a question I asked when I first started this blog, "How do I embrace the pain of migraine"?

This has to do with rest and healing. There is a word in I believe, Pali (from India I assume) that means stopping, Samatha. "There is a tendency," he explains "for us to think that our happiness should be searched for in the future. Even our health should be searched for by doing something. But we don't know that not doing anything may be the key to restoring our health."

For a word picture, he goes on to explain by using nature as an example. The Bible has a doctrine that we first learn from the physical and then the spiritual, line upon line, and that is how our spiritual understanding is expanded. For instance, in Proverbs, King Solomon admonishes not to be slothful but to go watch the ants and take after them in our work. This is the same idea here.

When an animal in the wild gets hurt he runs into a safe, secure, comfortable place and lays down to rest. He doesn't think about hunting, running or fighting. He just stops everything, often not eating, but only drinking. He stops everything completely and just lets his body rest and recover. He embraces the pain in that he does not reject it, search for remedies, fight through it, etc. He just relaxes and allows his body to heal.

Through the same principal, much of the torment of our minds, the suffering of our own bodies can be relieved by just stopping to heal. Stopping what? Stopping the rush of daily life. When I'm in pain I have to stop everything. Everything else in my life is put on hold.

However, where I lack in understanding is stopping the constant searchings of my mind to find the reason for my suffering. To find a way out of it or around it. To find a way to control my situation when it is really out of my control. To find a the reasons what I did to be going through this and the guilt of knowing how I injured myself and the consequences of it. To stop from feeling guilty and remorseful for everything: the accident, the feeling that I'm neglecting my family, the impoverishment that I am causing by all the medical bills and having to quit a lucrative position.

Another interesting concept that he brings up is that without garbage (compost) we cannot have flowers. And of course the reverse also happens that flowers do turn to garbage after a little while and the cycle continues.

Does that mean that the pain which in my circumstance is my garbage will ever go away? Perhaps but perhaps not. It's what I do with my garbage. Do I turn it into compost and care and water it to bring forth flowers? Or do I just try to clean it up all the time and worry about it's ugliness.

And what kind of flowers spring up from my garbage? Well, as I have discovered there are flowers of compassion, forgiveness, finding joy in the little things that life offers me, appreciation for what I have, love, getting my priorities right and much more.

Therefore, Embracing is much more than Accepting your situation. It is realizing that out of difficulties, affliction and adversity a work is done in the soul that is much more meaningful since the spirit and soul are eternal. They never die, never end.

Would I contemplate these questions if it weren't for my affliction? Maybe, but I wouldn't have the time to truly explore and think about my soul's condition.

I have a time to STOP. To stop worrying about the future. To stop chasing after things that I once thought would bring happiness and reward to my family and myself. A time to stop concerning myself with problems, mine and others. A time to stop and to heal.

It doesn't mean that I won't continue seeking treatment that can bring more rest and a break from the pain. That is not the point. The point is that I should not be consumed with the fear, heartbreak, frustration and hurt of searching for the reasons for it and the treatments. It releases me from those feelings. In this way, I can have peace as I move forward, like the water in a river, open to the hopefulness that a treatment will work, but not pained when it doesn't. I will just try again. I don't give up. I just give up allowing the pain to rule me and my emotions.

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