A grimy and smelly swamp is some of the most fertile ground on Earth. It nurtures growth with its hidden richness. In the slim of near putrid water the strongest roots must grow, made necessary by the weakness of the ground around. Human life can be this way. That thought was stated well by Edwin Hubbell Chapin close to a hundred and fifty years ago when he wrote:
Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls;
the most massive characters are seared with scars.
Only in middle age has it become possible for me to reap the benefits of pain, heartache, and grief. Each bit of discomfort though did little to teach me within itself. What hurt, hurt! What broke my heart, did so, without little shown to me at the time except agony.
Julio Caesar wrote “Experience is the teacher of all things” and his statement was not incorrect. It is however, incomplete. What age has taught me over time was not just to feel, but to pay closer attention to what happened. In looking closely and discerning the ‘hows and whys” of sorrow and anguish, I learned. It is “Awareness” that has become my greatest teacher; the smoother of my heart and soul while a grinder of my misplaced beliefs and thoughts.
The BEST teacher is the conscious observing and relating to daily circumstances, then responding to it out of one’s own experience, being aware that this comes out of an old programming, which happened in one’s past. So also observing these reactions, one is able to decide to follow this track or to try a new way, what might guide to a new experience and triggering new unknown reactions to be observed and so allowing to get to know oneself. With other words: Life is the best teacher – if one opens up to it!
‘Experience’ not necessarily is a teacher and for sure not the most efficient, because experience mostly serves to confirm old experiences as being part of the self-image.
The best and most efficient teacher without doubt is one’s own awareness. But to be such, one has to step beyond one’s personality, only then there is a true ‘learning’ otherwise every thing experienced only serves to confirm one’s programmed personality, to survive with one’s narrow and limited self-image and world view.
To be able to go beyond one’s personality one must be so much stuffed with experience – in a very long evolutionary process – that there is nothing left to gain more satisfaction. And after being cooked in one’s own juice long enough, what might happen through a lot of suffering like personal tragedies, loss of family, bankrupt or long incurable disease, then the personality breaks down and gives space to do the first step beyond one’s self-centered existence. BeiYien
Today I can’t damn or wish to push away any good or bad thing that has happened to me. To do so would be do deny a portion of who I am. All and everything that encompasses my life has been the mill that has produced the “me” I am today. While I would not willingly choose to endure many experiences and happenings a second time, I am grateful for them, one and all. Allowing ‘self’ to truly become “grist for the mill” brings glimpses of occasional enlightenment with growing propensity as I grown my awareness. These prescious insights are great gifts I am thankful for.
Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.
As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.
Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.
As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.
As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.
As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of God.
From “To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings”
by John O’Donohue,