Difficulty is Inevitable
On a very basic level all beings think that they should be happy. When life becomes difficult or painful, we feel that something has gone wrong. According to the Buddhist teachings, difficulty is inevitable in human life. For one thing, we cannot escape the reality of death. But there are also the realities of ageing, of illness, of not getting what we want, and of getting what we don't want. These kinds of difficulties are facts of life. Even if you were the Buddha himself, if you were a fully enlightened person, you would experience death, illness, ageing, and sorrow at losing what you love. All of these things would happen to you. If you got burned or cut, it would hurt.
But the Buddhist teachings also say that this is not really what causes us misery in our lives. What causes misery is always trying to get away from the facts of life, always trying to avoid pain and seek happiness – this sense of ours that there could be lasting security and happiness available to us if we could only do the right thing.
It is so basic in us to feel that things should go well for us, and that if we start to feel depressed, lonely, or inadequate, there's been some kind of mistake or we've lost it. In reality, when you feel depressed, lonely, betrayed, or any unwanted feelings, this is an important moment on the spiritual path. This is when real transformation can take place.
Pema Chödrön is an American Tibetan Buddhist. She is an ordained nun, former acharya of Shambhala Buddhism and disciple of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Chödrön has written several dozen books and audiobooks, and is principal teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada.
This is from The Pocket Pema Chödrön by Pema Chödrön © 2008 by Pema Chödrön. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. www.shambhala.com.