Through the Woods Imagine you’re going on a hike through the woods. You’re enjoying the sights and sounds, maybe stopping occasionally to admire a bit of birdsong or take a picture of a particularly lovely flower. Then, suddenly, as you’re strolling serenely along, a bear jumps out of the bushes directly at you, roaring loudly. You’re probably screaming in fear for your very life, trying desperately to think of a way to save yourself, bitterly regretting the decision to go on this hike, wondering what will happen to your children. Why me? you may think. Why this? But then, let’s say the bear stands up and takes off its head. It isn’t really a bear; it‘s just a guy in a bear costume trying to scare hikers. Now imagine taking that hike again, but this time, before you go, I warn you that someone is hiding along the path, dressed in a bear costume and jumping out to scare people. Now that you know, you’ll be on the lookout. Of course, the hike is long, and at times you forget. The moment the guy in the bear costume jumps out to scare you, you’ll still be startled. You might even jump or scream. But you won’t be completely terrorized, and you’ll recover from the shock more quickly, because you were forewarned and had some time to accept the idea that someone was going to jump out at you. You’ll say to yourself, I knew this was going to happen at some point. It’s happened to lots of other hikers. This is essentially what Buddhism teaches us about suffering. It’s there, and it’s scary, and at some point it’s going to jump out and startle you, but it doesn’t have to utterly terrify you. Try this: The next time you experience suffering or distress, instead of saying, Life’s not fair or, Why is this happening to me? tell yourself, I was aware that this could happen. I’m not alone. Others are also experiencing this same thing. Once you know that suffering is an unavoidable part of the experience, you can embrace the fact that it will happen at some point, worry less about it, and be prepared to recover more quickly when it comes.
― Noah Rasheta,
No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners: Clear Answers to Burning Questions About Core Buddhist Teachings
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