Turn Mishaps Into the Path

Episode 215,  Nov 14, 2021, 10:12 AM

We add difficulty to our difficulty if we imagine, as we often do, that difficulty should not happen, that it must be our fault to be living a life that is far from perfect, and that we have to blame one another when the world turns out to be full of problems. Mostly, we've been taught to respond to difficulty in this way by a culture that tells us that everything can be fixed and that if it's not fixed, already, someone must be doing something wrong. The resulting despair turns us away from qualities we could bring to the difficulties around us - from the personal to the global: compassion, creativity, gratitude, openness, dedication, patience. This week's Turning Towards Life is a conversation about how we might learn to treat difficulties as an inevitable part of the path and, in doing so, learn new ways to respond that include and honour ourselves as we are, and the world as it could be. It's hosted as always by Lizzie Winn and Justin Wise of Thirdspace.

We add difficulty to our difficulty if we imagine, as we often do, that difficulty should not happen, that it must be our fault to be living a life that is far from perfect, and that we have to blame one another when the world turns out to be full of problems. Mostly, we've been taught to respond to difficulty in this way by a culture that tells us that everything can be fixed and that if it's not fixed, already, someone must be doing something wrong. The resulting despair turns us away from qualities we could bring to the difficulties around us - from the personal to the global: compassion, creativity, gratitude, openness, dedication, patience. 

This week's Turning Towards Life is a conversation about how we might learn to treat difficulties as an inevitable part of the path and, in doing so, learn new ways to respond that include and honour ourselves as we are, and the world as it could be. It's hosted as always by Lizzie Winn and Justin Wise of Thirdspace.

This is Turning Towards Life, a weekly live 30 minute conversation hosted by Thirdspace in which Justin Wise and Lizzie Winn dive deep into big questions of human living. Find us on FaceBook to watch live and join in the lively conversation on this episode. You can find videos of every episode, and more about the project on the Turning Towards Life website, and you can also watch and listen on Instagram, YouTube, and as a podcast on Apple, Google and Spotify.

Here's our source for this week:

Turn All Mishaps Into the Path

We are, after all, not talking about miracles, we are not talking about affirmations or wishful thinking. We are talking about training the mind. If you were to meditate daily, bringing up this slogan, Turn all mishaps into the path, in your sitting, writing it down, repeating it many times a day, reflecting on it, reading the words of this book many times and thinking about them, then you could see that a change of heart and mind could take place in just the way I am describing. It simply makes sense. The mind and heart react according to their well-worn habits. Whatever habit of mind you have now comes from your actions and thoughts of the past (however unexamined or unintentional they may have been). Whatever habits of mind you will have in future depend on what you do or don’t do from now on. The way you spontaneously react in times of trouble is not fixed. Your mind, your heart, can be trained. Once you have a single experience of reacting differently, you will be encouraged. Next time it is more likely that you will take yourself in hand. Each time becomes easier than the last. And little by little you establish a new habit. When something difficult happens, you will train yourself to stop saying, “Damn! Why did this have to happen!” and begin saying, “Yes, of course, this is how it is, let me turn toward it, let me practice with it, let me go beyond entanglement to gratitude.” Because you will have realized that because you are alive and not dead, because you have a human body and not some other kind of a body, because the world is a physical world and not an ethereal world, and because all of us together as people are the way we are, bad things are going to happen. It’s the most natural, the most normal, the most inevitable thing in the world. It is not a mistake, and it isn’t anyone’s fault. And we can make use of it to drive our gratitude and our compassion deeper.

— from 'Training in Compassion' by Norman Fischer

Photo by Trevor McKinnon on Unsplash