Monday, August 14, 2006

A Lash in My Eye

The Perfect Way is only difficult for those who pick and choose; Do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear. Make a hairbreadth difference, and Heaven and Earth are set apart.
– Seng-Ts’an

Happiness and sorrow, good and bad, pleasure and pain – these are the very texture of life on the superficial level. The less you are bound by these dualities, the more clearly you will be able to see the core of purity and selflessness that is the real Self in everyone, even in people who cause trouble.

My grandmother had a pungent phrase for difficult people: “a lash in the eye.” We all know from experience how an eyelash in the eye can be so irritating that we just cannot think about anything else. That is exactly how difficult people affect those around them, so naturally most of us try to avoid such people.

But this lash in the eye is an opportunity for learning the skills that matter most in life: patience, forgiveness, and freedom from likes and dislikes. It is only the spiritually mature person who can go and put his arm around someone who has given him a really difficult time, and say sincerely, “Without you, how could I ever have learned to be patient? How could I have learned to forgive?”
--Eknath Easwaran

Something has been a "lash" in my eye for the past several months. Not that it had to be that way. I sought it out, and so the resulting discomfort I felt was of my own making. But even though I've now taken my leave of it, I'd still like to see the irritation I felt in a positive light. It and the conditions to which it was a response have been my teachers. From them, I've acquired the beginnings of patient persistence in the face of resistance, integrity in the face of hostility, and the wisdom to know when to move on when there's no further reason to stay.

For that I am grateful, and, over time, I hope to become more grateful still.


Anonymous said...

You are the lash in your own eye and in others and have learned nothing. You will continue to seek the lessons you refuse to learn because of your own determined will and stupidity.

Nagarjuna said...

I'm inclined to respectfully disagree. Just as I've made others a "lash" in my eye when I didn't need to, some may have made me a lash in theirs when they didn't need to. What a pity that we couldn't do better than that before. But how wonderful to know that we can do better than that now.