We’ve probably heard the phrase, “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
The Buddha teaches this in another way as well, with the concept of the two arrows.
Any time we go through a rough patch, or a bad event occurs, it is like being hit with one arrow. That’s bad right?
Now imagine you yourself pickup the bow, and shoot another arrow, at yourself. That’s even worse, and that’s the second arrow.
The first arrow touches our skin, or body, physically in some way perhaps. Maybe we didn’t get the reward we thought we deserved, and so a pain in the neck, some tears, some lightness of the head etc. Okay gone. But then, if we continue to cogitate on this, we allow the second arrow to pierce much deeper – right into the mind and the heart.
Which is to say, that at any given point, even if things aren’t as messed up as we think, we prefer to tell ourselves that it is really really really messed up.
Best way out? Use the second arrow as a learning experience. Find a way to ascribe some meaning to the pain. And then we’ll realize that it wasn’t pain in the first place, but an opportunity in disguise.