Once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters

Lava flow crosses a road in Hawaii

Lava flow crosses a road in Hawaii

Life is difficult.
This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

by M. Scott Peck (22 May 1936 – 25 September 2005)
from The Road Less Traveled
Problems and Pain
image – US Geological Survey

I think this is a little like going right past if the proverbial glass is half full, and confronting an empty glass. An empty glass is still a glass. It can be filled. It won’t always be filled, even when you’re thirsty. And, being unhappy about emptiness won’t fill that glass with water or wine or anything else.

The “great truths” Peck mentions are The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism:

  1. Suffering exists
  2. Suffering has causes
  3. Suffering can end
  4. The truth of the eightfold path (leading to the end of suffering)

I first read M Scott Peck in high school. He’s one that I’ve come back to, off and on over the years.

His reference to Buddhism went right by me at the time. Some books get broader and deeper, just because we were there.

I’m posting this right now because we’re in the home stretch of the Holiday season. In my half of the world that means it’s wet, cold and dark – Seasonal Affective Disorder weather. A lot of us are broke, busy and not blessed with close families. Even if we are looking forward to festive gatherings, we may be pushing too hard, hoping to be too busy to dwell on the past. Otherwise, this is a great time to look back and re-assess… and though that can easily be a double-edged sword, half full or half empty, a life is still a life. As I wrote above, “It won’t always be filled, even when you’re thirsty.” And unhappiness about emptiness won’t fill anything.

In a meditative state, emptiness just is. Emptiness can be an open place.

When facing mourning, emptiness is both a rite and a right of passage.

When when confronting change, emptiness is a challenge to change one’s fate. Make space for change without moving on convictions and watch out for backlash – nature abhors a vacuum. Following through is where the weight lifting happens. Think of the momentum of weight in motion: follow through and be brave enough to seize momentum… and momentum there will be.

This is a great time of the year to embrace contributing to change on a community level. Some deep needs can be addressed in simple ways. Drop a can of tuna into the food bank bin next time you go grocery shopping… and instantly become part of something larger.

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