If you’ve been practicing for a while, you probably read this title and chuckled a little. But maybe you’re quite new to the Buddhist path, and maybe, like me, you started with some misconceptions. I know I did. My misconception was that Buddhism would be easy, that it would make my life easy somehow. All I had to do was start seriously meditating and after a few weeks or months all my problems would just start to vanish into thin air. I realize now how silly and naive that was.
Following the Buddhist path hasn’t made my life easier at all. Has it made my life better? ABSOLUTELY! It’s deepened my relationships and refocused my priorities. It’s helped me begin to make peace with the abuse I suffered as a kid. The daily practices have helped me to realize a measure of peace that I’ve never known before, and, for the first time in twenty-five years, I can honestly say that I feel happy with my life. I feel grateful. So following the path has definitely changed my life for the better, but it hasn’t been easy at all.
The practices we encounter on the Path, particularly meditation, are a lot like a mirror. It reflects back to you who you really, truly are. But most of us, in order to get back to our true nature, have to uncover a lot of dirt first. You have to dig through the mud to get to the jewel, and that’s tricky. It’s not easy to admit how judgmental you can be, or how you could be more compassionate, or generous. It’s not easy to admit that you’re scared to face a person or situation in Life. It’s not easy to face yourself.
I really like the above quote. I think it sums up what I’m really trying to say. Following the Buddhist practices, meditating every day, can sometimes be bitter and sour. Committing to becoming your true self will always be a bittersweet experience, I think. But once you’ve learned and practiced and learned some more, the results can only be pure and refreshing and sweet.