Everyone knows we need to have mud for lotuses to grow. The mud doesn’t smell so good, but the lotus flower smells very good. If you don’t have mud, the lotus won’t manifest. You can’t grow lotus flowers on marble. Without mud, there can be no lotus… If you know how to make good use of the mud, you can grow beautiful lotuses. – Thich Nhat Hanh
I asked my teacher:
Teacher, life has so much suffering. I cannot stop my tears when I meditate and my thoughts turn to the pain and suffering of people. There are suffering all around me, from my own family members to the people in the world. There are millions of children who don’t have enough food. Many people are still living under constant bombing, attacks, fighting, killing and fear. There are still oppression where people cannot be free, do not have opportunities to an education, do not have access to clean water, or to basic human necessities. There is just so much pain. Whenever I turn on the news, something horrible has happened. How can I stay informed, being aware of my surrounding, of people’s emotion and feeling, and be compassionate without being pulled into the sea of suffering myself? I want to open my heart to people, but that means being vulnerable to disappointment and to pain. A heart is a fragile thing. The heart can love and laugh easily, but it can also ache very easily. Sometimes, I want to shield myself, and close my heart, just so I don’t get hurt. It’s too painful to get hurt. But, I can’t and don’t want to. Because despite all the pain and suffering in this world, there are countless wonders around me; wonders such as the smile of a child, the blossom of a flower, the rain, the morning dew, the leaves, the trees, the earth, and the sun. If I close my heart, I can’t see all these wonders and beautiful things surrounding me. If I close my heart, I wouldn’t be able to see all the helpers, the kindness of a random human being, the gentle breeze of the wind, and all the blessings in life. No, I want to keep my heart open, despite the risk of getting hurt and feeling pain. I want to sing, and dance, and praise to all the wonders of life.
My teacher replied: No Mud, No Lotus. Be a Lotus in the World.
With loving heart,