We Understand Karma

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We Understand Karma

The difference between pain and suffering is the difference between freedom and bondage. If we cannot be with our pain, how can we hope to accept, investigate it, and heal? And if it’s not okay to grieve, be angry, feel frightened or lonely, how will we ever feel what we are feeling or hold it in our hearts and find our peace with it? When we run from life, we are further enslaved because where we cling is where we suffer. But when we open to pain, our suffering dies. That’s the death we need to die.

Through ignorance and not understanding who we are, we create prisons. We are unable to awaken, to love the people closest to us or even ourselves. If we can’t bare our hearts to our deepest wounds, if we can’t cross the abyss the mind has created through lack of wisdom, how can we know love or realize our true potential? We can never finish the business of this life.

When we take responsibility for what we feel, and for what we say and do, we lay the foundation for the path to freedom. We know the good result that wholesome action brings for ourselves and for others. When we speak or act in an unkind way, are dishonest, critical, or resentful, we are the ones who suffer. Somewhere within us remains a residue of that posture of the mind, that crippled attitude of the heart.

In order to become whole, we have to approach that brokenness to see it clearly. We have to be honest about every imperfection, to acknowledge and fully accept our humanity, our desires, and our limitations with compassion. We have to nurture the intention not to harm anyone, including ourselves, by our actions, speech, or even our thoughts. Then, if we do, we must try to forgive ourselves, and start again.

We understand karma: how important it is to live heedfully and walk the path of compassion and wisdom from moment to moment – not just when we are on retreat.

This reflection by Ayyā Medhānandī Bhikkhunī is from the book, Gone Forth, Going Beyond, (pdf) pp. 69-70.