Her eyes were glistening.  “I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

I gave her a hug and she clung to me, clutching onto the hair at my nape as would a frightened child.  “I just wish I could make sense of all this.”

I squeezed her tight for a moment, then held her at arms’ length.  She had a hard time making eye contact.  “There are no answers, sweetie,” I said, more sure of that truth than ever before.   “It just is.”

She looked at the ground, puzzled, not wanting to give up hope that she would discover the perfect answer to her question.  I recognized this resistance because at one time, I shared it.  I also knew if she continued in the same vein that only frustration would result.

“If you look out here,” I said with a wide gesture to the porch and garden beyond, “you’ll find nothing.  It’s a trap for the senses.”

She looked toward the garden and I knew what she was thinking.  How could you lump my beautiful garden, so full of life, with pain?

I wished I had a better response.  “There is beauty in the world, but there is horror, too.”

As if anyone needed a reminder of that.  She shrugged her shoulders in agreement and busied herself picking off dead leaves from a potted palm, as if a constant might be found within one of them.

“Don’t bother,” I said.  “You’ll never find one.  If you’re looking for truth, it’s not here.”

As I drove away, I wondered if her doubt had infected me.  Maybe she was right.  Was there something important out there that I missed, or was I just distracted again?  Had all my years of study been in vain?

I thought about the miserable state of the world, the pointless suffering, the waste.  Don’t we have a responsibility to correct it?  Or should we retreat inside the bubble of our practice and detach from it all?  When does detachment become indifference?

Was I just as coldly disinterested in outcomes as the killers, marauders, and exploiters of the world?  Why wasn’t I out picketing gas stations or harvesting produce from an organic plot?  Where was my heart, my compassion?  Did I leave them outside the door, just as countless souls do before they enter the boardroom?

I almost felt like driving my car off a bridge.

Until I remembered why I began… the pain.   A suffocating stabbing pain that won’t relent.  And cannot stop because it’s inextricably linked to my desire for change.  

It starts with judgment, looking upon an event or person and deciding it’s bad and needs correction.  Correction triggers anxiety, for nobody really knows if a wrong will ever be righted.  Anxiety leads to anger, anger to despair and before long, one is stuck in a mire of self-created pain.

It’s only when one is unattached to outcome that she can clearly see what can or should be done.  Until then, action is only a knee-jerk response to sensory stimuli and emotional bias.

We’ve been told to do the right thing.  But until you get out of your own way and permit grace to show you what that thing is, you will only contribute to the problem.



  1. Very nicely put…you’ve turned into quite a terrific writer !

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