Finding Healing in Pain


Lotus Bud at the Bangkok Market           Photo: D. Bowman

“Don’t you know that afflictions are nothing more than wisdom?  And that the purest of blossoms emerges from the mire?”                                                                                                                                                                                   Benming

The 10th century Buddhist nun, Benming, captures a striking human truth in her poetic question —that wisdom and affliction are intimately related.  If we had no afflictions, no pain, no struggle, no hard decisions; how could wisdom ever blossom?

Wisdom is the ability to see clearly into the most difficult of situations and imagine the least harmful intervention. This wisdom is born out of the mire of one’s own suffering and mistakes.  We only learn to free others of pain from having learned to free ourselves.  

A wise person waits patiently when submerged in the mire until a clear vision arises. Feeling her roots spread out in the mud and reaching her tendrils towards the light, wisdom arises gracefully like a lotus bud in a healing gesture.  

Waiting for that moment when mind and heart arise together in spontaneous repair can feel like watching mud settle; it works, but waiting can feel like forever when we are hurting.  Patience is often something we learn because we have so very little choice and impatience will just heap suffering on top of suffering.  

We remember how the purest of blossoms and the mud are inter-mixed when we are seriously afflicted and a friend bring us flowers at the hospital. Friends, like the lotus blooming from the mire, are there for us at times of need. In the same way, we can learn to befriend ourselves and others when there is suffering.

Learn about the Journey of the Feminine Retreat in Costa Rica, December 2019.

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About Deborah Bowman

Deborah Bowman, Ph.D., is a psychologist, photographer, author and meditation instructor. She retired as professor after 28 years at Naropa University where she founded the Transpersonal Counseling Psychology Program and the Wilderness Therapy program. She is a certified Gestalt Therapist has served for 32 years as a psychotherapist in Boulder, CO. Buddhist practice and passion for Guanyin guided her travels in though out Asia. She is the author of several books including The Female Buddha: Discovering the Heart of Liberation and Love.

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