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“We will meet many difficult moments in our lives – people will abuse us or take us for granted, people we love will leave us; our expectations of others and ourselves will be disappointed, and there will be times when we are misunderstood or judged unfairly. The difficult encounters and moments in our lives spiral into complexity when aversion and fear are layered upon them. With aversion come innumerable ideas about how we think the world, other people, and ourselves should be, together with our strategies for turning those ideas into reality. With fear is born in our imagination what might befall us, the endless possibilities of misfortune, and our desire to flee from difficulties. Oscar Wilde once said, “The most terrible things in my life never actually happened.” In case they do, we want to be well rehearsed.

There is a simpler way of being with the difficult and painful in this life; to listen closely; to stay present, to investigate, and question – “Here is suffering. There are causes that can be understood without blame. What is the path to the end of suffering in this moment?” The path may involve intervention, the courage to say “no,” wise action; it may involve forgiveness, tolerance, or patience. Whether our response to suffering is an inner or an outer one, compassion roots itself in the dedication to ending sorrow. Our capacity to make peace with the difficult is hindered and made complex through the added ingredients of aversion, fear, and avoidance. These are the layers of complexity that we can learn to understand and release.” Christina Feldman

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