Wisdom

From Sylvia Boorstein’s book Pay attention for goodness sake. I have really needed the wisdom she offers in this paragraph lately. I keep coming back to it day after day.

“…when I am so shaken by events that I forget what I thought was firmly installed in me as Wisdom—when I suffer… I give myself time for the floodwaters to subside, for the confusion to sort itself out, for my mind to clear. I try to remember that I used to know. Or that my teachers, whom I love, know. Or that the Buddha—indeed, all the wise figures of all the great spiritual traditions—knew. Or, in fact that all of us in our best moments also know. When we are relaxed and reasonably content, we are naturally wise. We accept that life is unpredictable, unreliable. We say jokingly or philosophically, “Nothing is sure except death and taxes,” or “God willing and the creek don’t rise,” reminding each other that, notwithstanding the level of planning, we are continually dealing with being surprised. We get startled. We recover. We are disappointed. We adjust. Mostly—with Wisdom intact—we manage. When we are seriously challenged, though, when something happens that we so badly did not want that we can’t bear to have it be true, we forget philosophy. Wisdom vanishes. We ask, “Why me?” or, “Why now?” The pain we feel about what has happened intensifies with bitterness—which we often cannot help but feel—and we suffer. Then, in a moment of Wisdom—“It is me. It is now. It is painful. And it will be painful for as long as it is, and then it will change”—the suffering stops. The heart’s natural compassion becomes available to provide support, to comfort the pain.”

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