Meeting times of chaos and challenge

Published - 1 March 2022

Art by @chiara.acu

Times of chaos and challenge can be the most spiritually powerful… if we are brave enough to rest in their space of uncertainty. Pema Chödrön says “the main point of these methods is to dissolve the dualistic struggle, our habitual tendency to struggle against what’s happening to us or in us”.

Here are Pema’s suggestions for how to use our problems as the path to awakening and joy:

Go to the places that scare you: This is the primary method for working with painful situations—global pain, domestic pain, any pain at all. We can stop struggling with what occurs and see its true face without calling it the enemy.

Use poison as medicine: We can use difficult situations—poison—as fuel for waking up. Everything that occurs is not only usable and workable but is actually the path itself. We can use everything that happens to us as the means for waking up. We can use everything that occurs—whether it’s our conflicting emotions and thoughts or our seemingly outer situation—to show us where we are asleep and how we can wake up completely, utterly, without reservations.

Regard what arises as awakened energy: Regarding what arises as awakened energy reverses our fundamental habitual pattern of trying to avoid conflict, trying to make ourselves better than we are, trying to smooth things out and pretty them up, trying to prove that pain is a mistake and would not exist in our lives if only we did all the right things. When we can regard ourselves as already awake; we can regard our world as already sacred.