Courage in the presence of reality

Every day, I get a Daily Buddhist Wisdom ( that encourages me to seek the way of the Buddha and offers some insight and inviting knowledge that inspires me along my path. Today, the wisdom words were:

“Each of us wants to be wiser, more compassionate, and more courageous – to be better than we are. We would like to turn suffering into happiness, affliction to benefit, hardship to ease. We would ideally face both trial and tragedy in ways that could exalt and strengthen us. In every purpose we want and seek these higher tendencies-wisdom, courage, and compassion. These are also the prime qualities of a Buddha.” –The Buddha In Your Rearview Mirror

I agree with just about all of this . . . but the part about “ideally face both trial and tragedy in ways that could exalt and strengthen us” . . . well, um, no. Not really. I don’t need the exalt thing. My ego might want it, but in the presence of reality, I don’t think I could stand it. Exalt means to praise or pay tribute to someone. I might praise myself for having dealt ideally with difficult circumstances, but the fact of my reality is that I really don’t want to face “trial and tragedy.” I certainly would not seek them out. Both seem to find me just fine all by themselves. And I don’t know that I have faced all of them “in ways that could exalt” me. Sometimes, I just sort of caved and whimpered my way through. I probably came out of those a little bit stronger, but mostly smarter. If I have to suffer to attain the rank of Buddha, I would rather pass. Thus ends my Buddha quest.

The idea that we must suffer in life is all about our point of view. Suffering begins because we have the idea that someone or something is not the way we want or think we need it to be. In the presence of that reality, it takes courage to admit the root of suffering and still continue through it.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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6 Responses to “Courage in the presence of reality”

  1. holessence Says:

    Barbara – You never cease to amaze me with your thought-provoking posts. I respect your honesty. I admire the way you shoot from the hip. You are unequivocally you. Nothing more. Nothing less. Authentically you. Thank you.

    Laurie Buchanan

  2. sandiwhite Says:

    Barbara, I love your flat-out honest take on Life, none of that wishy-washy ” It must be God’s Will that I suffer” stuff. Nope, you are just as human as anyone else and nobody really really gets a pass, unless of course, you can out run it. You make me laugh and cry with this assessment of your Buddha-like qualities or lack thereof. Gee, not everybody gets to attain Holy Avatar status and frankly I would not want to be considered in the running. Truth be told, it’s just too hard and I’m not willing to work that way. I am suffering a little back ache but that’s caused by vanity, I’ve hauled two trailer loads of mulch to put on Big’s ( Banana tree ) bed this afternoon because I want my yard to look nice. You see, vanity, I get no credit for that. But I could never be like Mother Teresa and give up so much and suffer for the sake of others because I would want plaques and endowments and tons of praise to my face and be on Ellen and Oprah and the rest of it. It just wouldn’t work. Let me congratulate you on your good sense in avoiding un-needed pain. You are one bright cookie!

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Sandi — I want to be on Ellen and Oprah, too, but, like you, I don’t want to pay that price. I just want to be normal everyday person getting on with life and adding a touch of special to the people who accompany me on my path. And, by the way, i think your vanity is well placed.

  3. Snoopykg1 Says:

    I love looking at your blog in the morning on my cell and then mulling over it all day.
    I do agree that most of us would say, “Let this cup pass over me” with the suffering part. As someone said before it seems like the divine has a sense of humor or lack there of in our dealings with or without suffering. I think it can also be well tied to our attitude about it. It is interesting that sometimes I am really suffering with something and others have no idea, hiding it well. Is this actually facing the suffering? Probably in a wimpy sort of way, or suffering in silence. I guess that sort of suffering is the same as outright open suffering. After that I hope the “gifts” of wisdom, compassion, knowledge, caring, and peace come may from this. I am thinking it has its ups and downs just like day-to-day life.


    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Kim — sometimes I suffer in silence, too. That came from being raised Catholic where anytime I would whine about something, someone (usually my mother) would point to Jesus on the cross and say, “He didn’t whine when he was nailed to the cross!” That is a bit overwhelming when you are five years old and know that you can never live up to Jesus-on-the-cross suffering. I wonder if you got the same sort of message along the way. I think suffering is the same, whether you are silent and alone with it or verbal and public with it.

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