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The Sensei and A Path through Blind Struggle

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Deny struggle if you will. As struggle settles in to the mind and seemingly governs our lives, we experience a terrifying and at times dizzying display of never-ending tactics backed by resolute determination to destroy struggle.

One of the strangest and difficult struggles I encountered dropped in while I was sitting in a Sunday Buddhist service. The Minister was speaking of how we never leave struggle behind. He told the group how we would always have struggle. I remember that day like it was yesterday. My mind, my imperfect belief system cried out, “this is a limited way of thinking!” I ruminated for days and at occasion over the following years about this. I’ve even had conversations about the limitations of Buddhist belief systems based entirely on the illusion that we have no choice but to live with struggle our entire lives.

I thought I’d found the disease of Buddhism.

So many thoughts entered my mind such as; What is the purpose of a life of struggle? What is this sadness these Buddhists are teaching?

I never felt happy with my conclusion, but never challenged the sensei.

Years later, I felt a calling to go somewhere on a cool fall Sunday morning. I checked Facebook for events and found a yoga by non-perishable food donation and the usual pop-up yoga class. My internal sense wasn’t lining up with either class, but I dressed in yoga attire because this is what I habitually do on a Sunday morning. I then grabbed some donations from my kitchen and rushed to my front door. When at my door, I felt a divide. I dropped into this feeling and suddenly the frequency of that same old Buddhist Center from years earlier dropped into my awareness. It was clear I was to attend the same Buddhist center.

With time no longer on my side, I rushed to my bedroom, changed into something more appropriate for a service, and with a few minutes to spare I journeyed to the center. As I sat in the service, I noticed feeling singular, whole and present. I was exactly where I was to be.

When the Sensei began to speak, the topic was blind passions (feelings and/or emotions like jealousy, rage, contempt, craving, anger, delusion, arrogance, and doubt.) I listened differently this time. I listened from an ear that has known repetitive struggle and complete freedom from the ravages of struggle. I had a difficult time following the talk, not because of the topic or depth of topic, but because English was the ministers second language. He also had the tiring voice of a 75-year-old man. I wondered if I’d find someone who could fill me in on the gaps if felt were missing.

After the sermon, I found myself in the tea and snack room. People were standing around talking in small groups. I felt a desire to prepare a dish of snacks for myself. So, I walked to the snack table and was the first to begin dishing. The minister rushed over as a 75-year-old minister rushes, and stopped me mid-line with broken instructions to return the food and wait until a prayer was said. I put my food back, my plate down and waited. I felt a little awkward, but once again I was in the right spot doing the right thing – following inspired desire.

The minister did a quick prayer then joined me while I added the same food back onto the same plate. He then asked me to join him at his table.

We dove right into the depth of his sermon and he offered clarity. And during our deep discussion, I told the Sensei that it was impossible to always be in struggle as he had said during that speech years earlier. That, somewhere there is a space of experiencing within flow that shows us struggle from a non-struggle view. “There must be contrast,” I said. And this contrast is called Grace.

I told him, “many people exist in something called blind struggle” – blind struggle is when we are unaware – unenlightened - reactive. He stopped me, looked directly at me and said, "I learned something new today - blind struggle!".

When we are living from a point of enlightenment - which causes us to be present in timeless awareness – we can act out our desires while watching our struggles rise and fall.

In allowing desires to flow, we allow blind struggle to end as we know it. And as blind struggle ends, we feel a space of compassion for self. We feel our heart open and bliss grow.

After the discussion, we agreed that to eliminate blind passions, we must allow passions their life to move and experience their path. When we allow them to move in awareness and compassion, they lose their hold on us and generally bring our attention to a gift.

Struggle based in the concept of not being able to surrender will always lead one to humility, compassion and the non-dual presence of self.

When we deny struggle, we deny our ability to dive and accept Struggle

When surrender loses it’s grip on mind. Ego dissolves behind a glorious battle for control. And we flow in grace as gods exploring earth. …. .

I have come to accept that struggle will always be around, like the tides and seasons. However, when I embrace struggle as a marker, an illumination, I don’t have to feel it as the blind struggle I’ve known.

The Sensei is correct, if we are lucky, we will never leave struggle. We will always experience struggle, but when experienced as a gift, we allow ourselves to embrace life in radiance.

Feeling struggle, down, sad, maybe a little nauseous? Take a moment. Sit somewhere away from what you are doing and Notice. Notice all your senses. Notice where your attention is (probably the mind)- then bring your attention to your eyes and all you can see. See it all at once. Feel all you feel at once. Seeing the entire space around you, take it all in. Absorb the light, let the emotion flow. Absorb the dark, let the feelings feel. No filtering. Just allow it all to move through yourself without comment, without judgement. And BREATHE! Five minutes is enough. Enjoy.

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