"Every thought, every person, every apparent problem is here for the sake of your freedom" - Byron Katie
"Many of the faults you see in others, dear reader, are your own nature reflected in them." - Rumi
One approach to life is thinking of ourselves as organisms and the world as a series of opportunities & dangers. Looking at life this way, we feel justified in pursuing what appeals to us, avoiding what doesn't, & disregarding the rest.
In his teachings on the 3 kleshas or poisons, Buddha taught that this cyclical pattern - chasing, avoiding, & ignoring - lies at the root of our emotional suffering.
Rather than accepting what is, we impose our attitude upon reality, and then we confine our actions to what suits our attitude. We chase the shiny thing. Avoid the annoying person. Disregard the mess.
This feels like freedom, because we're acting in accordance with our desires, which can bring us hits of pleasure & satisfaction.
It's actually enslavement, because our actions are confined to what our desires allow; our actions are actually reactions to whatever compulsive urge is active within us.
Like unruly dogs - we can't stop chasing the passing car, can't stop attacking the friendly mail man, can't see the offered treat because our head is buried under our paws.
True freedom is recognizing our compulsive urges in action, feeling them rather than acting them out, and trusting our hearts to guide our actions in accordance with the highest good.
The graphic above attempts to distill this teaching into an easy-to-use technique. Anytime we encounter something or someone difficult, go to the fingers of your hand, & acknowledge the five truths:
- this is my teacher
- this is my friend
- this is perfection
- this is mystery
- this & I are one
See this as a different approach to life. Life isn't a video game we're trying to win. Nor is it an uncaring realm of chaos & chance. Life is a gift. As is everyone & everything in it. It doesn't seem that way because we carry intolerances within us. These intolerances, too, are a gift. When our intolerances flare up, it's an opportunity to drop our limited ways of thinking, soften our hardened hearts, & engage this moment as an opportunity for connection & growth.
When we struggle, we can recognize that we, too, are an aspect of this gift - we, too, are a teacher, a friend, perfection, mystery, and one. Exactly as we are. We don't need to live up to ideals or meet lofty standards. We are perfect no matter what.
The real question is, what's the wisest & most loving choice we can make, here & now? This five-part method helps ground us in core truths about the nature of life. So grounded, we can more easily attune with our heart's wisdom. So attuned, wise & loving choices can flow through us more freely.