The Second Arrow of Suffering.

There is a simple Buddhist parable that I enjoy titled “The Second Arrow”. I really enjoy parables because they pack a ton of wisdom in a simple and easily understandable story. Imagine a warrior being shot with an arrow on the battle field. The warrior can’t avoid the pain that the arrow is causing; what they can control is how they react to the arrow. The reaction to the pain of the first arrow is the second arrow. 

“In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. And with this second arrow comes the possibility of choice.” -Buddha

The first arrow represents the inevitable pain that will be cast upon us throughout life. For example, this pain might be the death of a family member or the loss of a relationship. The second arrow is our reaction to the pain, which brings us the possibility of choice. I find that having a choice in my reaction to pain is both exciting and freeing! We can feel the pain but not react emotionally to it. Instead of complaining, wallowing, or fighting the pain we can accept the pain as impermanent and move on from it. In my experience, this change in mindset can allow us to live a more meaningful and content life. Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it.

 

With Aloha,

Jonathan Hoffman

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