Pema Chödrön: This Lousy World

This lousy world, these lousy people, this lousy government, this lousy everything… lousy weather… lousy blah, blah, blah. We’re pissed off. It’s too hot in here. It’s too cold, I don’t like the smell. The person in front is too tall and the person next to me is too fat. That person is wearing perfume and I’m allergic to it… and just…ugh!
It’s like being barefooted and walking across blazing-hot sand or across curt glass, or in a field with thorns. Your feet are bare and you say, “This is just too hard. It’s really hurting, it’s terrible, it’s too sharp, it’s too painful… it’s too hot.” But you have a great idea! You’re just going to cover everywhere you go with leather. And then it won’t hurt your feet anymore.
Spreading leather everywhere you go so you can cover the pain is like saying, “I’m going to get rid of her and get rid of him. I’m going to get the temperature right, and I’m going to ban perfume in the world, and then there will be nothing that bothers me anywhere. I am going to get rid of everything, including mosquitoes, that bothers me, anywhere in the world, and then I will be a very happy, content person.”
We’re laughing, but it’s what we all do. That is how we do approach things. We Think, if we could just get rid of everything or cover it with leather, our pain would go away. Well, sure, because then it wouldn’t be cutting our feet anymore. It’s just logical, isn’t it? But it doesn’t make any sense, really. Shantideva said, “But if you simply wrap the leather around your feet.” In other words, if you put on shoes then you could walk across the boiling sand and the cut glass and the thorns, and it wouldn’t bother you. So the analogy is, if you work with your mind, instead of trying to change everything on the outside, that’s how your temper will cool down.


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