Saturday, November 27, 2010

Buddhism, the challenges of life, and practice

Hello fellow blogosphere inhabitants,
I hope the Thanksgiving weekend has been treating you well, and that you are weathering the potential dramas associated with the holiday season with grace and fortitude. Of course, if you do not live in the U.S., then this is just another weekend for you. In that case, I also hope that you are enjoying your weekend.

I just came across this passage from the writings of Daisaku Ikeda, a Buddhist thinker and poet whom I have great respect for, and I think it describes in a very poetic way what is probably going on in many areas of our lives right now, both on and off the mat. I thought I'll share it with all of you:

"Buddhism uses the example of flowering fruit trees -- cherry, plum, peach, etc.--to illustrate how each person has a unique mission in life. A cherry tree fulfills its purpose by blooming and bearing fruit as a cherry tree... It never imitates the blossoms of other flowering trees or wastes time being jealous of them. Rather, it patiently bears the frosts and snows of winter, drawing energy from the earth itself, pushing its roots deeper into the soil. Then, with the arrival of spring, in a burst it unleashes all the life force that it had been storing up, sending forth countless blossoms." (Daisaku Ikeda, A Piece of Mirror and Other Essays)

We are going through all kinds of challenges in our lives right now: struggling with a new pose or trying to get a particular pose in our practice; struggling to work with injury or pain; struggling with family drama/issues; and so and so forth. But from the perspective of Buddhism (and yoga as well), nothing happens for nothing. In other words, everything that happens in our lives has meaning. I am facing a particular challenge in my life right now because it is part of my unique mission in this life to win over this challenge and "bloom" in the particular way that only I can. Same applies to you. Whatever you are going through right now (whether it's an injury, pain, or a particular issue with family members) is there to help you become that most wonderful person that only you can become.

Seen from this perspective, we have everything to be thankful for; even our problems, because without them, we would have no impetus to grow and bloom.

So, let's continue to enjoy our lives and our practice!      



  1. Well stated wisdom for everyday life, Nobel. I believe all those things from a spiritual, philosophical, emotional, and psychological perspective, but I also believe them to be true from a biological perspective.

    As you know my academic expertise is early childhood special education with a concentration in young children with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). One thing we know about young children with EBD, is that the brain becomes more healthy and more capable of multiple ways of functioning if it is challenged in a healthy way - like through specific kinds of knowledge acquisition.

    In other words, if a young child has a developmental disorder, she will do much better if she is challenged intellectually than if she isn't. The brain - typical and atypical - loves a good challenge. It just gets stronger. I think it is a microcosm of life.

  2. Really nice, Nobel. Thank you. It's definitely good to stop in the middle of what feels like total chaos and stress and remember this lesson!

  3. May you get through this challenge with a strong and steady soul, and prosper like beautiful cherry blossoms!!

  4. I could not agree more, I would go even further as to say that what is happening that is challenging right now IS there for our service... to point into a direction of something we need to work through... it is all learning... better without resistance. Nice post :-)