Turning Arrows into Flowers
I had a rude awakening coming back from my holiday in Greece. Financial crisis, my savings on the verge of disappearing made me crash into everyday reality like gravity pulling rain down to the earth. We have received a ticket from the negative global karma police and we have to pay it.
In times like these, it’s easy to get very disheartened. My usual response to global crisis is either denial or paralysis. Both of them don’t work, I noticed.
So what does work? I remembered the story of the Buddha sitting under a tree before becoming enlightened. He was attacked by Mara, a personification of the obstacles that keep us from realizing our true, open nature. Mara did everything to distract the Buddha from the truth, attacking him with armies, seducing him with hot chica’s –and chico’s, who knows-, and finally becoming the nagging voice of self doubt in his head that we probably all know too well.
All these attacks are symbolized as arrows being shot at the Buddha. But he, being the kind of guy he was, turned all these arrows into flowers, ultimately ‘ditching’ Mara, and becoming enlightened. The arrows in this story are the obstacles that we all continuously face, especially in times like these. So how, as true potential Buddha’s, can we turn these arrow of crisis into flowers?
We do that by reversing the mental pattern that got us in this economical, political and environmental mess in the first place: pleasure seeking and pain avoiding. The more we open up to our interconnectedness, our interbeing as Thich Nhat Hanh calls it, the more we realize that our good is connected to the good of all.
It is incredibly complicated to elaborate on what has to be done in order to restore the global damage. One thing is clear to me however; we have to start turning arrows into flowers. We begin in our own hearts and minds by not turning away from the crisis and not becoming paralysed by it either. This way we reverse the pattern of clinging to what we want and pushing away what we don’t want. And I am convinced that this, in the long run, will heal the world.