The darkest moments of my life led to the most transformation. The darkness brings self-reflection, awareness, and focus. This is only if we do not numb the pain with alcohol, drugs, and/or overeating. When a family member suddenly dies or a relationship ends, we can have moments of pure awareness and clarity on what led to this moment in time.
My first experience with this transformation was when I was honest with my ex-fiance about my infidelity. She left me the following day. At first, I numbed myself with distraction but when her parents moved all her stuff out of our studio I was forced to sit in a dark & empty apartment. My first reaction was to run away and move to a new place. Luckily I chose to stay in my empty studio. The following weeks I cried every night in sorrow. Pain, suffering, and anxiety filled each moment until one day I picked up a book called “Buddhist Bootcamp” by Timber Hawkeye. Suddenly I was meditated 1 hour a day, reading, writing, eating healthier, and working out every day. I quit smoking and significantly cut down on drinking alcohol. My days were now filled with joy instead of sorrow. This all took place from March-May 2015 in San Luis Obispo, CA. Since then I have fallen back into old habits, relearn lessons, and also had new transformations from suffering. I began a journey of self-love, peace, forgiveness, and acceptance; a journey I am currently still on (and always will be). There is no destination on this path, only the love of the journey itself.
The famous Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says “No Mud, No Lotus”. The beautiful lotus flower grows in the darkest and muddiest environments; I truly believe humans are much the same as the beautiful lotus flower. The right environment for growth usual consists of awareness, compassion, and love while we are suffering. Once we learn how to suffer, we suffer much less. Suffering can actually be the most transformative process of life if we allow it to be.
Through the darkness, we can transform ourselves and become the light to see out of the darkness. We accept the darker side of ourselves (and the world) with compassion, understanding, and peace. In this practice, we feed the light while accepting the dark. This allows for peace instead of war. The key to transformation is to sit with ourselves through the pain instead of distraction or numbing the pain. The coldest winters of my life have always ended with a warm inviting spring. All is impermanent, even the darkest of times.
The ego whispers “you’re right”. Unchecked, our ego will lead us into hatred of anyone who different than us. Hatred cannot be stopped by more hatred. It’s a vicious unstoppable circle of ego, fear, and hatred. Without the light of peace, the circle is infinite. Apathy & fear fuel the ego. I believe compassion and love can bring humanity true peace. Does humanity really want peace though? That’s a million dollar question. If we truly want peace we have to be mindful of the ego and its tendency to label everything as “right” or “wrong”. Labeling is the first step to hatred and violence. Labeling isn’t always bad (foods, streets, colors, etc) but when we label our fellow humans we put them in boxes; which we then label “right” or “wrong”. This distorts reality and makes peace difficult.
Understanding is the first step towards peace.
Without understanding peace is not possible. This is why mindful listening is so important in peace talks. Understanding the suffering inside another is a skill we can develop with compassion. Understanding, compassion, and peace are intertwined at their core.
Do we truly want peace or to be right?
I see this in my fellow animal right’s activists. Well-intentioned people who let their ego blind them. They care more about being right than understanding meat eaters. They end up pushing their meat-eating brothers & sisters further from plant-based living; causing more violence in the world. We all have been guilty of letting our ego take control of a conversation. I intend to show true compassion to all living beings, even those who believe the exact opposite of me. How will they know peace if we don’t show them? MLK, Gandhi, Jesus, Buddha, and Mother Theresa all preached this message of peace.
Let’s start today by mindfully listening to others instead of allowing our ego to lead into hatred. If we truly want peace in this world we must live peacefully with all living beings. By living this way, we leave the world a better place than we arrived.
This post is part of an ongoing series I created about a young French Captain named Pascal. To learn more check out these posts.
Sins of the past now present.
Pascal’s mind like a school of fish pacing in the deep blue sea.
Many lessons learned.
Pascal can not change his past.
Only his perception of it.
Pascal is only human.
Folly as the rest.
There will be mistakes on this voyage.
Forgiveness will let Pascal enjoy this moment.
Compassion will set him free.