Once there lived a rich man’s wife who gave birth to a beautiful girl to whom she became very attached. One day the girl died suddenly and her mother was stricken with grief. Nobody could console her—not her family or her friends. They tried everything they could to give her comfort, but she wouldn’t let go of her little girl’s dead body.
The story goes that the Buddha was passing by while this was happening, and when he heard about it he wanted to try and help in whatever way he could. The mother begged him to bring her child back to life. The Buddha asked the mother to go and fetch a particular type of seed from a house in which no death had occurred. This seed was extremely common and something every kitchen would have, so the mother went away thinking she would soon return with the seed.
She came to a house and asked the people there if they had a seed that she could take back to the Buddha, so that he might bring her little girl back to life. They said of course she could have a seed; but when she checked that no one had died in the house they replied that they were very sorry but their mother had died there a year before.
The mother carried on from house to house; they all had seeds, but nowhere could they say they hadn’t had a death. When she returned empty-handed, the Buddha cried with the mother and explained that this was the nature of human mortality—that every one of us would experience death at some point, and that although it was extremely sad and painful, it is the same for all of us.
The mother understood and was able to put down the load of her daughter’s body, and was able to let go of the burden in her mind and her heart.
How is it possible to stop past hurts from blocking our way? You might want to protect yourself, even subconsciously, from the same hurt happening again. You may find that you have put up a wall around your heart or your mind—whether between you and other people or between you and possible experiences and opportunities. You ask why you can’t seem to find love, yet inside you are so frightened of letting yourself love because in the past you’ve lost people you loved.
Try, if you can, to see your pain and fear from a different angle. If you’re so frightened of losing love again, then surely it must be a very precious thing. And if it was a very precious thing, then that shows just how much capacity you have for it. It would be a shame to deny other people this wonderful gift.
I have met so many people for whom a crisis in their life has either turned into an opportunity; an interesting, sometimes exciting, new path, or has been a reminder to simply make the most of life.
At some point, we all lose those who are nearest and dearest to us, but we can make a choice to see something good in any situation. A best friend who dies far too young remains in our hearts, and while sometimes there will be no answer as to why such tragedies happen, we can still feel them when times are difficult, willing us on.
Life is not meant to be a compendium of hurt and pain, but a celebration of the time we have on earth. Life is not a movement backwards, but forwards; every cell of our body wants to move on, forward, further; like a twig, which wants to reach for the sky, or a bud that yearns to open even though it must wilt and die. Keeping a record of pain, guilt and hurt is like keeping an expense account—only loss is certain.
If we learn to transfer our pain and hurt into empathy for others, sympathy for the less fortunate and kindness for those in pain, we can transform our own hurt into balm. The secret of happiness is not to succumb to dark thoughts of gloom or count on a rosary of hurtful memories but insist on staying on the path of positivity and balance.
Train your heart to compress negativity and express positive energy, and you will see the world through new eyes. Much of what is bad in the world around us is a creation of this human weakness to cling to pain and memorise the hurt. Free yourself from the shackles of hurt and redeem your true blissful nature. Remember that all hurt is temporary, but bliss is infinite.
The author is the spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order based in the Himalayas