Perhaps one of the most difficult things to grasp is the ideal of faith. Many of us work to create a better world to move beyond our self-judged instabilities and disabilities. We fear hunger, emotions, insecurity and anything that elicits suffering. Life is a roller coaster ride: exhilarating, exciting, poignant, dramatic, and intense. Perhaps one of the most potent toxic emotions we often combat with is resentment. Resentment remains within the heart, corrupting the soul with bitterness. There is a Chinese saying called “chi ku” which is called eating bitterness. We do it every day whether we know or not. We live on tragedy to sustain us. Misery loves company. But also what the meaning of chi ku provides is that we swallow it in order to survive. The exhausting struggle of trying to be happy all the time is overwhelming and we cling to hopes and expect better outcomes. We are bred to consider better outcomes, to find an evolution that will work with our needs
But what if hope doesn’t work with us? What if hope fails? When we become confronted with failure, it is quite natural to react. But is that all we do? React? Reaction is when we choose not to feel and it is a self-sabotaging gesture that only seeks to further harm us. So how do we stop reacting? How do we cease chi ku? We know what it’s like to be insecure and to linger. We are predisposed and encouraged to suppress unpleasant and painful emotion. But we need that rollercoaster to stay alive and to help us find out what works for us in life. Hope is an unstable instructor; the lessons can be easy but the final exam can be the most difficult. We have to try to find that place beyond both fear and hope.
Buddhism teaches of a place called “groundlessness”, seeking a place where we must be brave enough to discover a place where we must be safe enough to allow us to experience our insecurities. We strive for perfection, for a reality that is completely unattainable and we find ourselves let down and disappointed by clinging to dreams which we believe we deserve. We believe that we deserve resolution and anchoring ourselves to lack of bravery. I have mentioned Pema Chodron and her approach to pain and how the experience of it can be messengers for change. She states: “Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.” We often feel like pieces of shit, we are afraid of uncovering the nastiest parts of ourselves and taking a cold long stare into an uncompromising mirror. We are afraid of those demons, those parts of ourselves that we wish we could eradicate or cut out. Buddhism states that groundlessness is allowing ourselves to experience the fear without our ego.
Being grounded, clinging to that ephemeral emotion which will only pass away in time. We fear losing what defines us, what we believe what makes us whole. But groundlessness is initially the rug being pulled out from beneath us and falling into a reality that we are not prepared to endure. Our safety nets aren’t always going to be there and neither is the ground that we walk on. From pain, we can discover a liberation that can inspire us to continue moving forward. As Pema Chodron said, “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” Life is scary and it is very easy to be afraid of it. We have to find that place within that allows us to embrace groundlessness. We cannot be afraid to stagger. Whenever a wave of depression or panic overwhelms us, we must welcome the possibilities of groundlessness. Groundlessness is not releasing your power nor relinquishing it. Powerlessness is an epidemic among the human population. It is the fear of not being able to do anything about our pain when we really can. We can step outside into the sunlight and amble through the darkness. But, it has to be baby steps. Great leaps don’t always bring the best outcomes. Groundlessness is becoming what we were meant to be. Yes, we seek many crutches in our lives and rely on them. But, they don’t always improve the quality of life.
They may make you live longer, but are you getting the most of your human experience? Are you following a path that is true to yourself? Life is both savage and beautiful. We often inflict savagery upon ourselves by basking in pain; by accepting defeat. But, sometimes the very thing we need is to accept that defeat to continue being mobile. It’s okay to fall apart sometimes. Being with your pain and knowing that you are alive is both frightening and amazing. When you can learn to fall and land hard, only then can the healing begin. Groundlessness is a process so you must take it at your own pace. When we see cold reality of our souls, are we ready to accept it? Are we ready to be compassionate and gentle with ourselves? The first thing to learn after falling is that it’s okay to be flawed, to be human. No one may understand it and neither will you, but it is okay to unravel and ask for help if you really need it. That is where defeat ends and groundlessness begins. Having the courage to be you is groundlessness. Having faith in your abilities and permitting yourself to err is acceptance and that is where hope can be renewed.
Disclaimer: I am not a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, nor am I even a full-fledged Buddhist. I am a human being trying to make sense out of this crazy world and life. This is not advice but merely thoughts and reflections on how to improve the quality of life in general. Take my entries at your own risk.