Pema Chodron

September 17, 2014

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THINGS ARE UNBEARABLE?

Trungpa Rinpoche once asked a group of students, “What do you do when you get squeezed? What do you do when things are unbearable?” We all sat there, wondering what to say. Then he called on us one by one. We were so scared that we answered very genuinely. Almost all of us said something to the effect that we just completely fell apart, forgot about practice altogether, and became totally habitual in our reactions. Needless to say, after that we noticed very clearly what we did when we felt attacked, betrayed, or confused, when we found situations unbearable or unacceptable. We began to really notice what we did. Did we close down, or did we open up? Did we feel resentful and bitter, or did we soften? Did we become wiser or more stupid? As a result of our pain, did we know more about what it is to be human, or did we know less? Were we more critical of our world or more generous?

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