Two Arrows

In 2012, I departed Boise for a long walk on the Camino de Santiago.  I learned a long time ago that leaving with expectations is the best way to mess up any journey so they did not accompany me on that walk.  It was a total life bending experience that continues to shape and influence me to this day.  One of the many changes was a dramatic shift in my reading habits away from trashy novels and into the spiritual world.

Many unwanted events happen in life.  My father died an ugly death due to alcohol. I let many marvelous women slip through my life.  Many stocks have been purchased too late and others sold too soon.  Warehouses of skeletons will assure that I will not be running for any electable offices.  All of these moments are accompanied by pain and sorrow.  At the most inopportune times, my mind retrieves the archived video and autoplay begins.

I am currently reading The Wise Heart.  Here is a passage that addresses this problem:  “It’s like two arrows the Buddha said.  The first arrow is the event itself, the painful experience.  It has happened; we cannot avoid it.  The second arrow is the one we shoot into ourselves.  This arrow is optional.  We can add to the initial pain a contracted, angry, rigid, frighted state of mind.  Or we can learn to experience the same painful event with less identification and aversion, with a relaxed and compassionate heart.”

Next time I take an inevitable arrow, all of my time and energy will go towards mending one hole instead of hemorrhaging out of two.