When it Rains. The Power of Positive Practice

“.for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”  Matthew 5:45

It’s raining today, it rained yesterday, and, in all likelihood (according to the forecast), it will rain again tomorrow.  One thing is certain:  When the time and conditions are right, the sun will out and the rain will cease. Until, of course, it rains again.

The Buddha said,

“When this arises, that arises
When this ceases, that ceases”

Or, when the conditions are right for it to rain, it will rain; when the conditions are right for the rain to cease, the rain will cease.  Bad things happen to good people; good things happen to bad people — whether or not we believe in a god, whether we want to believe it or not.  We don’t need to believe in the rain in order to get wet.  When it rains, wet happens.

I recently experienced a series of misfortunes. a painful separation, troubles at work, a broken tooth.  What was most difficult was not that misfortune happened, nor the accumulation of misfortunes that shook my confidence and certainty to the core, but the fact that, as a Buddhist, with an understanding of impermanence — with full intellectual apprehension of the facts — I had such difficulty coping with the nature of what was happening to me.  I had assumed, somehow, that the `rain’ would not fall on me, that I was beyond all that.  How foolish and how mistaken I was!  Indeed, sometimes when it rains, it veritably pours, and when it pours, we get good and soaking wet – Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Zoroastrian, atheist or agnostic. 

I have a confession to make:  I am a poor student, a worse scholar, and a damn poor practitioner!  A colleague recently reminded me of the adage, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes”.  I had forgotten a very important lesson.

When it rains, it pays to carry an umbrella.  Sometimes, thinking is not enough. We need to read the weather, dress appropriately, and understand, not just with our mind, but also with our whole being.  No matter how bad (or good) the weather is right now, if we wait fifteen minutes, it will change.  This is the value of practice, and practice does not end. Regardless of the emotional weather, how we deal with these situations, how we learn from them, how we accept them and, finally, how we act on them is the really important thing.  We can all talk a good game when it comes down to it, we know the right answers, but how we act, in the crucible of crisis, this is what really counts.  Every day, every moment presents an opportunity for us to practice, and with practice, comes understanding and finally, enlightenment.

It’s raining today, it rained yesterday, and, in all likelihood (according to the forecast), it will rain again tomorrow.  One thing is certain:  When the time and conditions are right, the sun will out and the rain will cease. Until, of course, it rains again.

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Author: Miles Murphy

Miles Murphy works in the field of learning and professional development. An independent scholar, he has a wide range of interests including the humanities of East and West. He is a devotee of Buddhism and a t'ai chi ch'uan enthusiast. His poetry and other writings endeavour to poke about in the rich soil and empty sky of the human condition. Miles can be contacted at papasmurfnorth@yahoo.ca

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