essays on suffering and awakening

Today is a good day to give ourselves a break

How many of us walk around burdened by the sense that we’re supposed to have it all figured out? Certainly, many of us may pretend that we’ve got ourselves together, but I don’t think I’m the only one who often feels like I’m wandering the dark without a flashlight.

In those times, I often notice a nagging sense of failure and guilt permeating my consciousness. What’s wrong with me, I find myself asking, that I fall short of the mark? Never mind that any sense of who I should be is simply something I’ve put upon myself. The discomfort is real.

I find it helpful, then, to look for the childish element of our minds: sincere, playful, well-intentioned. To witness that is to remember that we really are doing our best. We may not see the whole picture clearly, but we’re blinded by our expectations, fears, attachments and misguided sense of how things ought to be rather than suffering from any innate flaw of character. We mean well; our failures are at worst the result of ignorance.

Seeing that, what can we do but forgive?

Ian Cooper