“Wherever we are, we can train as a warrior.  The practices of meditation, loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equinimity are our tools.  With the help of these practices, we can uncover the soft spot of bodhichitta, the tenderness of the awakened heart.  We will find that tenderness in sorrow and in gratitude.  We will find it behind the hardness of rage and in the shakiness of fear.  It is available in loneliness as well as in kindness.  

Many of us prefer practices that will not cause discomfort, yet at the same time we want to be healed.  But bodhichitta training doesn’t work that way.  A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next.  We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe.  But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty.  This not knowing is part of the adventure, and it’s always what makes us afraid.  

Bodhichitta training offers no promise of happy endings.  Rather this “I” who wants to find security — who wants something to hold on to — can finally learn to grow up.  The central question of a warrior’s training is not how we avoid uncertainty and fear but how we relate to discomfort.  How do we practice with difficulty, with our emotions, with the unpredictable encounters of an ordinary day?”
Pema Chodron

I haven’t written any posts since November, when my dear friend Emily Squires was in the hospital.  Sadly, she died a few days later.

I just haven’t had the heart to write anything because the fall was so bleak and I’m still struggling to get through the days.  I miss Em and life feels so uncertain. This morning, I had to read some Pema Chodron to be reminded that this is just the part of life that is real – that we do live in uncertainty and we always will.

When I fight my sadness, it always seems to dig in deeper, so I will try to sit with it.  It’s a bleak January day.  We went through Hurricane Sandy (which isn’t over for thousands of people whose homes were destroyed.)  We saw a horrible school shooting and still there is a battle over gun control.

I’m sitting with sadness this morning and I’m trying not to fight it.  I know this too shall pass and that I have so much to be grateful for.  Emily is no longer with us and that is truly sad.  I just had a thought though, to call a mutual friend this morning, who is probably also missing Emily.

It’s hard to lose someone you love and I loved Emily.  I’m watching my dog, Lucy, falling apart.  She is 17 now.  I’m not sure of the future, but then who is?  I wish for happy endings, but if I’m to be a real warrior, I guess I have to accept that there is no promise of happy endings, just this moment, and growing up and relating to discomfort.

“How do we practice with difficulty, with our emotions, with the unpredictable encounters of an ordinary day.” 

4 Thoughts on “The path of the bodhisattva-warrior

  1. I’m sorry for your loss. I recently lost my sister. But thank you for this post. I’m not sure how, but it is reassuring.

  2. Bill, I am so sorry for your loss. It’s so hard to lose someone you love…I loved Em like a sister.

    I don’t know why I find Pema Chodron’s writings so comforting, but I do. It just feels very real.

  3. So glad to see you are writing again, Robin. I love Pema’s writings because she speaks a truth I often forget and need to be reminded of in the moment. Thanks for picking the perfect moment for a reminder.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing dear friends can feel unbearable and yet we continue to astound ourselves and keep bearing the loss.

    When I think of the people whom I’ve dearly loved and who are no longer embodied I can feel comfort in remembering that our shared love has not died. Of course that works on a good day. On a bad day. I just have to sit with my painful feelings and patiently wait for the next feeling to arise.

    Sitting with you, three thousand miles away…

  4. Thanks, Judith. It’s always great to hear from you and read your comments. I really appreciate it.

    Yes, sitting with the feelings is not easy, but it does seem to work. I used to always try to stuff them down and that doesn’t really help anything!

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