Friday, June 3, 2016

The Two Arrows

The Awaken One once asked a student, “If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful?” The student replied, “It is."

The Awaken One then asked, "If the person is struck by a second arrow, is that even more painful?” The student replied again, “It is.” 

The Awaken One then explained, “In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional.”

As long as we are alive, we can expect painful experiences - the first arrow. To condemn, judge, criticize, hate, or deny the first arrow is like being struck by a second arrow. Many times the first arrow is out of our control, but the arrow of reactivity is not.

Often the significant suffering associated with an emotion is not the emotion itself but the way we relate to it.Do we feel it to be unacceptable? Justified? Do we hate it? Feel pride in it? Are we ashamed of it? Do we tense around it? Are we ashamed of how we are feeling?

Mindfulness itself does not condemn our emotions. Rather it is honestly aware of what happens to us and how we react to it.The more cognizant and familiar we are with our reactivity the more easily we can feel, for example, uncomplicated grief or straightforward joy not mixed up with guilt, anger, remorse, embarrassment, judgment, or other reactions. 

Freedom in here then, is not freedom from emotions but it is freedom from complicating them.

-- Author Unknown


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