Friday, May 13, 2011


There are so many suffering people in the world today – so many innocent sufferers from untold numbers of disasters and diseases – and I’m sure none of them think of their suffering as being “perfect”, but still, it’s been occurring to me recently that, if a time of grievous suffering comes my way, I hope I can find the perfection in everything that happens. If that sounds utterly ditzy, let me try to explain. Since whatever happens to me at any moment of a given day is actually happening and therefore, at that moment, can’t be avoided or changed, in a sense it could be said to be perfect. The dictionary says something is perfect if it can’t be changed, and any particular moment of my life can’t possibly be changed, because it’s already happening. I can try to make sure the next moment is different, but this moment – and every moment -- is just what it is, and therefore you could accurately say it is perfect. At some time in the future, I may be faced with one of these perfect moments that is altogether made of suffering and sorrow – perhaps many moments and hours and days of it. My hope is that I can remember that each of those moments, no matter how painful they might be, are perfect just as they are. They can’t possibly be changed, and therefore you could say they are flawless in their distress and unhappiness. They are perfectly painful and painfully perfect. It’s interesting, then, to think of the possibility of appreciating pain, since it is another example of a perfect present moment. Usually I resist the pain in my life, but I’ve been thinking lately that this might be precisely what promotes the pain, and sometimes worsens it. If a painful moment, as it is, cannot be changed in any way, then it is without flaw, and perhaps should be welcomed as a new illustration of the perfection of each moment. I still find it uncomfortable to think of welcoming pain, but don’t I welcome other occurrences that seem perfect? Don’t I welcome a perfectly prepared dinner, a day of unblemished sunshine, a sprinkling shower that dispenses the ideal amount of moisture on our garden? Is it possible that I could also welcome a moment of perfect suffering – suffering that is ideal, just right, just the thing, faultless, flawless, and just what the doctor ordered? In fact, can’t all suffering be thought of as "just the thing", since it always brings with it lessons about how to live with valor and wisdom. Many wise people in the past have said that we should bow to suffering, invite it in, and ask what it has to teach us. Perhaps that’s what I’m saying. Perhaps, if illness or some other sorrow visits me, I should open the door and say, “Welcome. When does class start?”

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