Our Gift, the Obstacle

“Meditation is essentially walking backwards down the path that gives rise to suffering. Therefore, it is our discontentment, our own neurotic energy, that serves as the material we have to work with in meditation. So, the situations we generally refer to as obstacles are, in fact, the path.” -Ben Riggs

I quoted Rolf Gates the other night to my boyfriend: “The obstacles in our path are the path.” He looked at me and said, “Tell that to cancer patients or the parents who’ve lost their children at war.” True. Once again, my boyfriend had a point. But after some contemplation, I realized that those things are much more than obstacles. They are PAIN in its finest form.

Rather, what I’m talking about are those occurrences in life that make it difficult to get to where we want to go. Not impossible, just difficult. Annoying, not catastrophic. I’m talking about things like: the job you don’t like, a flat tire, a rude salesperson, the friend who lets you down. And when we’re in the thick of it, it seems as if these things are insurmountable. We lose perspective.

Our initial reaction to an obstacle is to resist it. And the more obstacles we face, the more worn down we become. The secret is to think of being “worn down” as another way of saying “compassionate.” Because when we think about it, obstacles force us to shed our neuroses, be more open-minded, and laugh at how ridiculous life can be sometimes. Obstacles help us to become less attached to our tasks and daily routine and more connected to our mind and inner spirit.

Walking through life’s obstacles with grace teaches us how to live a better life.

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