Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

“If when I die, the moment I’m dying, if I suffer that is all right, you know; that is suffering Buddha. No confusion in it. Maybe everyone will struggle because of the physical agony or spiritual agony, too. But that is all right, that is not a problem.” Shunrya Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

Image courtesy to Robert Boni: Shunryu SuzukiBuddha of suffering.

I feel so relieved when I read this quote. There are just many Buddha’s, not just the peaceful one. Buddha of confusion. Buddha of stuckness. Buddha of anger and fear.

Being on a path of mindfulness and compassion doesn’t mean that we feel happy, peaceful, and open all the time. Even Thich Nhat Hanh writes about moments of anger and sadness in his life. Being on a path of mindfulness and compassion just means that: being mindful and compassionate of all that arises. Our sadness, our fear, our anger, our jealousy, our depression. Embracing all feelings with love and care, no discrimination. Using our experiences to really understand what it means to be a human being. “Oh, this is what anger looks like. This is how it feels in my body. These are the thoughts that come with it. These are the impulses that grab me.”

Usually we aren’t in this space of openness. We have an aversion to our unpleasant feelings. We want them to go away, and we will go to great lengths to get rid of them, yelling, slashing out, blaming included. Or, we have an attachment to our pleasant feelings. We want to be happy, peaceful, calm all the time, and we hate it when these feelings disappear. Or, we are deluded and ignorant of what’s going on inside us. We zap our time away, drink, drug, sugar coat our experience, or lose ourselves in mindless reading, talking, gaming, watching television.

Aversion, attachment, delusion, the three causes of suffering according to Buddhism.

The less we can stand our feelings, the less able we are to connect with people and situations with openness. Instead of being penetrated by our feelings, and standing our discomfort, we look for a scapegoat, someone we can blame for our suffering. We want to make them wrong, hoping this will make our experience better. We are unable to observe clearly and truthfully, and start creating enemy images in our head.

If we want to connect to the reality of life, we better learn how to accept our feelings. Then we can separate our pain and suffering from the trigger, and look deeply into the causes of our suffering. We might have wrongful thinking. We might carry emotional trauma. We might have unmet needs. When we stand our feelings, we can see the causes of our suffering, and we can connect to the beautiful, precious, universal needs underneath our feelings. Then, and only then, can we make requests that enriches all life.


You want help to stand your feelings and connect more openly to life? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

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