Thursday, August 27, 2009

Suffering and The Second Arrow

The Following quote is from "The Engaged Spiritual Life: A Buddhist Approach to Transforming Ourselves and the World " by Donald Rothberg and Jack Kornfield.

“…How can we be in touch with suffering and work to transform it, but not react in ways that lead to further suffering?

…One of the most powerful images in the teachings of the Buddha – the image of the ‘two arrows’ helps us to clarify the nature of suffering and how we might learn to open to suffering without creating further suffering. It also suggests an important and precise distinction between what we might call pain and suffering.

We can imagine, the Buddha says, that when we experience pain, it is as if we were shot by an arrow. Each of us is sometimes shot by this arrow of pain. We each have a certain allotment of painful experiences, some of us more, others less. To be human is to be vulnerable to pain and at times to be in pain. Our soft bodies are easily injured and tend to break down over time. We are frequently startled and shocked – physically, emotionally, and mentally. We want meaning and connection, kindness and love, fairness and justice, yet we often find them lacking in our lives.

Typically, because of this first arrow of pain, we react in various ways. According to the Buddha, our reaction is equivalent to being shot by a second arrow. We can call this second arrow suffering. Suffering arises because when we experience pain –when we experience pain – when we are injured or startled, or lack meaning and love, or are treated unjustly – we typically react by lashing out, at ourselves and others. We believe somehow that this will dispel or mitigate the pain. We act in such a way that a second arrow is shot, at us or others, on account of the pain of the first arrow. When we act so that the second arrow is shot, we ‘pass on’ the original pain.

Suffering can thus be seen in large part as a kind or resistance or reaction to the pain of the present moment. We tend to react physically, emotionally, and/or mentally when we have unpleasant or painful physical sensations, emotions, or thoughts. When we experience physical pain, we tend to tense and contract around the pain, as if this will somehow assuage it. Some doctors say that perhaps 80 percent of what patients exper ience as physical pain is not the result of the original stimulus bur rather ongoing resistance to this stimulus.

Similarly, when there is emotional pain (think of the pain that may follow from a perceived slight by someone close to us or the breakup of an intimate relationship) we tend to comment at great length, produce a flow of emotions, and react physically as well, all on the basis of the original stimulus. We may generate anger and harsh judgments of self or others or rationalize continually, sulk in depression, find a scapegoat, or attempt to escape the pain through food, shopping, sex, or television…

For the Buddha… the task of spiritual practice is not to rid ourselves of all pain, to prevent being shot by the first arrow. Rather, our core intention is to not shoot this second arrow."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mindfulness Facts, Tools, and Techniques

I'm a very strong proponent of mindfulness practices. There are several physical and psychological benefits to practicing mindfulness including but not limited to improved immune system functioning, stress reduction, decreases in the intensity of stress-related physical symptoms such as chronic pain, substantial reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety, heightened creativity, and an improved sense of overall well-being.

Following are a list of links to resources on mindfulness.

Links on mindfulness
Online Audio and Videos on mindfulness

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Creating a New Life Direction

I just published life coach, Laura Berman Fortgang's article, "10 Tips to Creating a New Life Direction" at SagePlace. The article is based on her book, Now What?: 90 Days to a New Life Direction in which fortgang provides readers with a very useful process developed to assist people in moving forward with their lives.
In the introduction to her book Fortgang writes, "As I look back at the time I have spent working with people, the yearning for "more" has undergone a transformation. In the late 80s and early 90s, people's definition of more was more money and more status... And now, it seems we've come around to recognize that what we wanted along from "more" was fulfillment: feeling satisfied and finding meaning... I welcome you to an exciting (and sometimes scary) exploration that will reveal the truth - the truth about what you really want, about who you really are, and about what you are really capable of..."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Repower America Coming to Auburn on August 17th

The following is quoted from the Lewiston Sun Journal

"Repower America, a national grassroots movement affiliated with the Alliance for Climate Protection, will hold a public informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17, at the Auburn Public Library.

Delia Gorham, an organizer for the regional chapter called Repower Maine, will explain the organization's goals, the progress of the American Clean Energy and Security Act and ways to take action in the community. The need to maintain open and ongoing conversations about issues is one of the main points. The Alliance for Climate Protection is an outgrowth of Al Gore's film 'An Inconvenient Truth.' "

You can visit the Maine page of the national site at:

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Albert Schweitzer wrote, "By having a reverence for life, we enter into a spiritual relation with the world. By practicing reverence for life we become good, deep, and alive." Following is just one example of why it is possible to feel awe and wonder every single day of our lives...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Will You Support Real Health Insurance Reform?

With Congress home on recess, August is a pivotal month in the fight for real health insurance reform. I just committed to go to at least one Organizing for America event this month to build support in our community, and show Congress where we stand. Can you commit to attending one event this month as well?

There's a lot of misinformation out there, and people are, not surprisingly, starting to get pretty nervous. There will be lots of different things we can do this month to fight back, and it's really important that we do what we can.

You can sign up here:


Healing Health Care

The following is a 3 minute video where physicians speak about the importance of health care reform.

For more information about health care, watch:

a 3 minute explanation of why we need health care reform and a short summary of proposed solutions, watch why we need health care reform.

a 3 minute explanation of why health insurance is so expensive

a 2 minute explanation of consumer driven health care