The Secret Ones
Sema is a greeting from the secret ones
inside the heart, a letter.
[Divani Shamsi Tabriz, Rumi: The Big Red Book]
Let this writing, in however insignificant way it might, bring solace to those of us who have had suffering at the forefront of our lives all along and especially to those of us who have retreated into unfathomable silence. When we long for everything we have lost and all the things we could never have, material and beyond, we wonder why the world outside is so ruthless. When we are shaken to our inner most core, we become acutely aware of the terror that grips us completely. We think that we are living the worst days of our lives. We do not want to share anything with others because no one can truly empathize. Rather, we numb ourselves. We distract ourselves. We do everything to avoid any confrontation with our worst fear. How much does one have to endure? How long does one have to suffer? When does this captivity end? Whenever we try to find solace, we are invariably left with disappointment. Only our pain remains, in every moment of our journey, which becomes our most intimate companion. Deep within our heart, we keep every agony, every regret, and every resentment that we experience. Overburdened with unresolved emotions, our journey becomes long and steep. By glorifying our hardship, we try to find meaning in our endeavor.
With ways of extreme tenderness
(the Supreme Healer) soothes away intense and boundless suffering.
[ Śāntideva, Bodhicaryāvatāra]
When we are busy exerting ourselves with the hardship that we take pride in, how do we react when we come across Buddha’s teaching to see things as they are and to let go of our clinging to them, including our sufferings, which we regard as our only true companions? All of our pain, trauma, and dissatisfaction seek constant attention from us. They want to be looked at, they want to be magnified, they want to be remembered in everything we do. As for us, since we have only known suffering, remaining in its cocoon has become our comfort zone. When we are ushered to leave our familiar abode, we become hesitant, as we have never known any other way of living. However, our encounter with the Dharma slowly begins to transform us by naturally releasing us from the grip of our sufferings with utmost delicacy.
“I do not look for a Bodhisattva who goes on the difficult pilgrimage. In any case,
one who courses in the perception of difficulties is not a Bodhisattva.”
[Subhuti to Śāriputra, Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra]
As we progress on the path, we are continuously reminded that we should strive in benefiting others to such a degree that we vow to be enlightened solely for their sake. Once again, out of our habitual tendency, we engage in a hardship of aspiring to be a bodhisattva. We feel proud to be on the path. We even feel superior because we undertake this hardship at a grander scale of Mahāyāna. We are willing to endure on the Bodhisattva path even for three incalculable eons, in order to attain the glory of benefiting all sentient beings. By magnetizing our hardship, we fall back to our old habitual pattern. When we consider our goal or our path as a daunting task and take pride in such struggle, we are reminded that for a bodhisattva, this is not something that involves austerity or renunciation, as understood at a mundane level. Rather, a bodhisattva embraces a sense of delight throughout the journey— generating bodhicitta with sincere enthusiasm, engaging in the path with genuine diligence, and benefiting everyone with great compassion. As ordinary beings, since we cannot transcend duality or conceptualization, I wonder if we can truly appreciate them. To me, bodhisattvas are the secret ones. The ones who gently reveal our mistaken attitudes and approaches.The ones who deeply listen to our innermost cry. The ones who guide us in transcending our self-imputed limitations.
~ Moondil Jahan
~ Moondil Jahan