Poison as Medicine

Sometimes I read things I could not fathom rephrasing more eloquently than they already are. So tonight I am simply going to quote some passages from a book I’ve been reading, Start Where You Are, by Pema Chodron. The words are so rich I’m not even ready to discuss them. They just touched me so deeply and I want to share.

“People and situations in our lives are always triggering our passion, aggression, and ignorance. A good old innocent cup of coffee triggers some people’s cravings; as they are addicted to it; it represents comfort and all the good things in life. If they can’t get it, their life is a wreck. Other people have an elaborate story line about why it’s bad for you, and they have an aversion and a support group. Plenty of other people couldn’t care less about a cup of coffee; it doesn’t mean much at all to them.” 

“And then there’s good old Mortimer, that person who is sitting next to you in your office. Some people are lusting when they see Mortimer. He looks wonderful to them. A lot of their discursive thought is taken up with what they’d like to do with Mortimer. A certain number of people hate him. They haven’t even talked to him yet, but the minute they saw him, they felt loathing. Some of us haven’t noticed him, and we may never notice him.”

“The main point is that when Mortimer walks by and triggers your craving or your aversion or your ignorance or your jealousy or your arrogance or your feeling of worthlessness- that could be like a little bell going off in your head or a lightbulb going on; here’s an opportunity to awaken your heart. Here’s an opportunity to reconnect with the sense of your soft spot, because as a result of these poisons the shields usually come up. We react to the poisons by armoring our hearts.”

“When these poisons arise, the instruction is to drop the story line, which means- instead of acting out or repressing- use the situation as an opportunity to touch the soft spot. Underneath all that craving or aversion or jealously or feeling wretched about yourself, underneath all that hopelessness and despair and depression, there’s something extremely soft.”

“When these things arise, train gradually and very gently without making it into a big deal. Being to get the hang of feeling what’s underneath the story line. Feel the wounded heart that’s underneath.”

“When we do that, the poisons become seeds of how to make friends with ourselves. They give us the chance to work on patience and kindness, the chance not to give up on ourselves. They give us the chance to change our habits completely. This is what helps both ourselves and others.”

My absolute favorite teaching in this book. Some things to chew on and think about.

Namaste and good night, my friends.