Viktor Frankl wrote, “What is to give light must endure burning.” We want to give light but we’re afraid to suffer, not realising that our very freedom lies in penetrating to the middle of that suffering – and knowing its nature. But the poison arrow doesn’t simply vanish, nor does the wound heal by marvelling at it, “O what a grievous injury, what a spectacular wound!”
We can’t light the candle of discernment on the altar of life until we burn through to clear insight of the way things are. Rather than spend our energy in denial, resisting change, or getting lost in self-doubt and pity – unwilling to trust or accept what is real – we must care for ourselves and tend to our dukkha. Letting faith cradle the heart, we can grow silent and strong enough to hold pain of impossible depth – and remain unshaken.
Our commitment to this spiritual excavation delivers us from the poison arrow. But we have to be both diligent and thorough, probing every facet of our experience and shining the light of Dhamma on all areas of our life. Our goals, lifestyle, fundamental values, profession, and even friendships come under scrutiny.
With the help of these insights, we move towards restoring ourselves to wholeness – reconciling with a family member or making amends for harm we have caused. Above all, we bring about life-altering changes that will align us with core values which we resolve not to compromise. The outcome is never sure but if we strive for Truth and come from the shadows, we will not live in darkness.
This reflection by Ayya Medhanandi is from the book, Gone Forth, Going Beyond, pp. 84-85.