FULL MOON: 25th January, 2024

EMBRACING DILEMMAS

"Silence does not denote profundity
if you are unaware and untrained.
Like one holding scales,
a sage weighs things up,
wholesome and unwholesome,
and comes to know
both the inner and outer worlds.
Therefore the sage is called wise.
"

DHAMMAPADA v. 268-9

We all know what it is like to feel challenged by dilemmas. Should we go in this direction or in that direction? Should we take sides with her opinion or with his? If significant consequences are associated with the decision we make, the dilemma can feel weighty. From a practice perspective this doesn't have to be a problem. The intensity generated by the challenge can be a cause for increased open-hearted awareness. It depends on how and where we meet the challenge. Cultivating our refuge in the Buddha, doesn't mean merely having great ideas about how to handle difficulties. It more helpfully means strictly observing precepts, and investing in sensitive, just-knowing awareness. The heart of compassionate awareness potentially has the space to receive life's dilemmas and be nourished by them, not weakened. Dukkha does not have to denote something going wrong. It is a message. 'Pay attention here!' With right effort we receive into our hearts the difficult feelings that a dilemma brings – receiving them fully, without reactively taking sides. This is not avoiding making decisions; it is an alternative approach to making decisions.