Roshi Joan Halifax returns to explore the idea of a blessed catastrophe and reflects on the transformative power of suffering.
In this life, there are moments of the blessed catastrophe which challenge our resilience and strength of character. Like a crucible, these moments burn away our faults and impurities. Through her experiences, Roshi Joan gives us insight into working through these trials and how these experiences lead us to the Buddha Nature and the Divine.
Buddha Nature and the Divine (opening) – There is a feeling in our practice of connecting with the Buddha Nature, connecting to what Ram Dass and Maharaji call the Divine. The Buddha Nature is our basic goodness, which is shared by all beings. This quality is that of relaxation, tenderness, openness, and courage.
“Even though there is much suffering in this room, in this world, it is also smiling into the blessings.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Blessed Catastrophe (07:45) – We all experience a blessed catastrophe at some time in our life. Despite the Karmic nature of this, there are also rites of passage that create blessed catastrophes that we might take on. These moments are the charnel ground, where courage and love are awakened.
No Mud, No Lotus (16:00) – With the quote, “No mud, no lotus,” Joan reminds us to accept not only the beauty of the divine but also to the power of encountering one’s suffering courageously. This honest encountering with suffering fuels our love. The goal of this practice of accepting the mud and lotus builds resilience instead of becoming diminished by the suffering.
“How can we meet the full catastrophe of this life in all of its beauty, the mud and the lotus, and actually build resilience, build energy in so doing?” – Roshi Joan Halifax
Separation (25:50) – How do we welcome loss, while also at the same time be worked by loss? The way to do this is to have the courage to let go. Allowing our heart to break open into a wider world.
“There is a man hanging in a tree. His teeth are wrapped around a branch. His hands cannot touch the tree. His feet cannot touch the tree. Another man walks beneath him, he looks up and asks “Why did Bodhidharma (or the Patriarch) Come from the West.” If the man hanging from the tree by his teeth opens his mouth to help the other man he will fall to his death. If he doesn’t open his mouth, he does not fulfill his responsibility to help the man.” – Zen Koan
Suspending Identity (34:40) – Roshi Joan closes with a meditation focused on being honest about the self. It is not easy to lose be it a loved one, capacity, our youth, or direction. Remembering a moment in time where separation has left you completely without ground.
Explore the Be Here Now Network for more from Roshi Joan, check out her talk on cultivating inner strength and a chat with Raghu over at Mindrolling.
Photo via Solving the Enigma