Raven 54: Suffering

What do you do with the loveliness of snow when the cold brings such misery? (Or with the misery of cold when the snow is so lovely?) Winter is life. How many more will you see?

Winter set in firmly, and frequent snowstorms prevented the community from meeting. One day was unseasonably warm, however, and a few members gathered for a day of zazen. In the question period, Owl said, "Many folks aren't surviving the winter, and I think all of us are reminded that we won't be here long. I'm not sure what my question is, but..." Her voice trailed off.
Raven said, "Maybe there isn't a question."
Mole spoke up and said, "I think there is. There's a lot of suffering in this forest. Folks are dying and leaving little ones with no one to care for them; folks get sick; they get killed and eaten. How does this fit the teaching of Buddha Macaw?"
Raven said, "She was concerned about the misery of suffering."
Mole asked, "Is there suffering without misery?"
Raven said, "Yours -- right now."
Mole was silent.
Owl asked, "So the teaching of the Buddha was really just to grin and bear it?"
Raven jumped up and down, chanting, "Getting old! Getting old!" and she gave a great croak.
I saw a young larch shudder
and looked around to see
if there were some cause
as would bring it fear or hurt.
Seeing none, I said:
"It's some fluke of wind,"
As if suffering were not also a current of air.
I turned then back to the trail,
Each footfall on the dirt
Alike the last,
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon

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