Many of you will be familiar with the old gag that we and our friends played on one another in school… taping a “Kick Me” sign on someone’s back. If it was done in a good-natured way, it was amusing to watch the joke unfold and the confusion of the victim as they discovered the source of their woes.
It dawned on me that Life is playing the same joke on all of us. Life slaps a “Kick Me” sign on our back the moment we come into this world. No-one escapes this! We discover early on that Life seems to be enjoying kicking us in the backside – sometimes even knocking us down.
If you discover that Life has done the same to ALL beings, you may think the joke is over and that life is just cruel. Most believe they can remove the offensive sign by controlling their circumstances and environment. They amass wealth, possessions and build “walls” in an attempt to stop the kicks or minimize the damage. Brief respites of comfort are nice however all continue to be kicked no matter what. So-called failures, loss of all kinds, end of relationships, aging, illness and death WILL inevitably happen.
A few realize that resistance to these events will keep the kicks coming! The first kick is Life guiding, teaching and playing out the inevitable. The question is: will you allow Life to have a succession of follow-up kicks? My analogy is very similar to (and inspired by) The Buddha’s “second arrow” teaching.
Most will resist the practice of non-resistance and suffering as we are conditioned to feel guilty if we don’t suffer. For example, I remember attending a funeral where some were outraged that a family member wasn’t exhibiting “enough” sorrow at their loved one’s passing.
Utterances like “unfair“, “why is this happening to me?“, “not again” etc. position your backside for another kick. Any sense we have of some inherent rights or entitlements will deliver kicks with a steel-toe work-boot! A better (higher) question following a kick might be “Why is this happening FOR me?“
Succinctly put, another popular saying is “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” I paraphrase Nisargadatta Maharaj who stated that You don’t experience suffering, you suffer your experiences. In fact, if you explore this deeply, you find suffering does not exist. That is a very “high” road and requires deep inquiry.
Life getting it’s “Kicks” at your expense is to move you toward discovering that: You, in your essence, are not the “butt” of Life’s kicks. You are that which is aware of the kicks, aware of the pain! Who is that one that is aware? Does that one suffer? This contemplation reveals Truth.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”Viktor Frankl