The Begging Bowl, or Don’t Suffer Alone

Sometimes faith is hard.
Sometimes hope wears thin.
Sometimes we don’t reveal

The bowl we are holding is shattered.

Browsing the different timelines, I see anger, frustration, and bravado. I see the noisy go quiet, and I see the quiet sniping. I see people with good hearts growing bitter with the world. I see people hunting for hypocrites, finding faults, and calling out lies. I see people immersing themselves in the problems of the world to distract themselves by day and wrestling with what is suppressed at night.

But what I don’t know is if I am seeing their hearts or if I am seeing my own.

For some, a question like this may lead to a realization. If that’s how it is for you, then congratulations: Like an alchemist, you’ve discovered an inner path to take your own pain, confusion, or empathetic feelings, and turn them into a hand patting you on the back for your accomplishment — a much more comforting sensation. With practice, perhaps you will recognize the threat to your inner peace as it arises and deal with it with your spells and incantations before your enlightenment shatters.

In time, perhaps you will recognize the teachers who have been showing you this technique all along: There was the Bodhisattva of Wrath who felt her life spinning out of control and came online to fight with authority and bravado, the Hypocrite-Hunting Bodhisattva who was baffled by his inability to provide for his family while more ethically challenged succeed with notoriety, and the others — even the Bodhisattva of Compassion who will find suffering even to the point of creating it, and the Bodhisattva of Equanimity who will press you toward realization without providing comfort. Perhaps you’ll even be as powerful as the one who gave them all their names.

Let’s go back to the moment when we didn’t know whether we were seeing another’s heart or seeing our own. Instead of finding an escape, why not ask: Does it matter if it’s my heart or yours? When any one person suffers, don’t we all?

I’ll continue to write the words until we all understand…


When I first created a blog to help a local zen center, I offered the following as my first post. From September 2009: Zen: Don’t Suffer Alone. It’s first paragraphs?

We all live charmed lives, right up until we don’t. Eventually, we all face personal trials – that is the nature of life itself. Different people deal with them in different ways. It’s really quite natural to feel alone, overwhelmed, even helpless sometimes. It’s natural to believe that no one can understand your grief.

The feelings are real – there is no denying that you feel them – but what is the source of those feelings, and what is the effect of rehashing this internal grief-filled dialog with yourself? What are you not accomplishing while you are dwelling in this dark place?

What is the path out of this suffering?

How does the post end? Same as it did before:

So, don’t suffer alone.  Contact us.

By Joe

Puzzle Wrestler & Mountain Herder. Math & Computer Nerd since the 80s. Longtime linux (current debian, ubuntu, raspian, centos, gentoo), currently fighting feebsd. Over-complicates networks for fun, occasionally secures them for profit. Develops own tools & services (cli, web services, and lately some android). Degrees in Math, Belts in Aikido. Zen, Motorcycle, Ham Radio, Homebrew (Ale, not Radio), Coffee & Tea, some Mandolin & Fiddle, MDA Advocacy (son with Duchenne), …

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