Karmapa explores the phenomenon of nostalgia for troubling experiences - 26.06.2020

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Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, explores the phenomenon of nostalgia for troubling experiences, in his latest meditation for our times.

Trauma, crises and troubling experiences are parts of human life.

We dislike them, but when that type of experience has been with us for some time – for example, having been trapped in a cabin due to a long snowstorm – strangely enough, an unexpected bond with that experience develops.

Due to the development of that unintentional bond, once the experience is over, we somehow miss it.

Normally, no further explanation or interpretation would be required here, but if we try to tag on a reason why this might be the case, then it would be something like this:

Although the bond formed with the troubling experience was not something we desired to begin with, nevertheless it was an intimate one in the end.

Due to the situation, a strange friendship has formed. In a way, this friendship can be something we come to know more intimately than any other relationship.

However, everything must and does come to an end – well, at least the appearance of it.

Then, for some peculiar reason, we miss it.

 The troubling experiences echo far further than our so-called good experiences.

This kind of nostalgia could be seen to exemplify the curious nature or state of human beings: ‘good’ experiences are in a way overrated – though it is also possible, of course, that a pleasant experience might have an equal potency to bring about that nostalgia.

But to me, this statement sparks my Buddhist habit, – ????????? sKyo Shes. ‘Revulsion’ is the translation that I found in a dictionary, but I might translate it as ‘recognising sorrow.’

You see, this ‘recognising sorrow’ is an essential part of Buddhist practice.

This is not because Buddhists love sorrow.

Instead, recognising sorrow involves first of all seeing that sorrow is a chaotic phenomenon, and then equally acknowledging that this chaotic phenomenon is a necessary spice, which  introduces a kind of completion or wholesomeness to life.

This is the reason why Buddhists utilise this method.

Good food is food that has a punch or a dash of potent spice.

In our lives, that spice is, strangely enough, none other than this sorrow.

It’s a spice that makes for a good life.

A life with some sorrow in it is a well-spiced life, if we can say that.

So, a Buddhist is not necessarily a chef, but someone who likes interesting food.

This nostalgia for the crisis may come about due to the fact that our usual so-called ‘normal’, good and peaceful experiences are somehow bland – that is, lacking in spice.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean that we have to start searching for trouble, or that we should relate to practice as a method to search for trouble. (Although I will admit that practice has indeed something to do with looking for problems – but that is not the main purpose of practice).

We live in the midst of problems; in fact, this very human experience is a problem.

So we don’t have to look for them.

However, recognising without piety that that is the case, has a quality.

That is the real meaning of ??????????? "recognising sorrow" I feel.

Also, realising that the practice of ????????  is like a cane that will no longer be required once we are able to walk on our own two legs will help us let go of the practice once we have recognised what we want to recognise.


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