Heaven and Hell


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A chapter from Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron.

A big burly Samurai comes to a Zen Master and says, "Tell me the nature of heaven and hell."
The Zen Master looks him in the face and says, "Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you? A worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?"
Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword and raises it to cut off the Master's head.
The Zen Master says, "that's hell."
Instantly, the samurai understands that he has just created his own hell--black and hot, filled with hatred, self protection, anger and resentment. He sees that he was so deep in hell that he was ready to kill someone. Tears fill his eyes as he puts his palms together to bow in gratitude for this insight.
The Zen Master says, "that's heaven."
The view of the warrior-bodhisattva is not "hell is bad and heaven is good" or get rid of hell and just seek heaven." Instead we encourage ourselves to develop an open heart and an open mind to heaven, to hell, to everything. Only with this kind of equanimity can we realize that no matter what comes along, we're always standing in the middle of a sacred space. Only with equanimity can we see that everything that comes into our circle has come to teach us what we need to know.

Living in that "sacred space" and seeing life (in particular the difficult child side of life)this way, makes sense to me ............... it is acceptance of what is. To the degree that I can really hold on to that, is the degree of peace that I have. This is my practice.

My difficult child daughter put me through the PHD program of learning this! And, lo and behold, that brings on that gratitude that the samurai in the story felt and gratitude feels really, really good.

My goal at the start of the intense part of the detachment process was peace of mind and acceptance................so all those "lessons" along the way "came into my circle to teach me what I needed to know."

Today, I feel in awe of that.

Here in PE, this seems like what we are all addressing ............I would be interested in hearing your thoughts...........


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This is like radical acceptance, which I posted. Didn't get much traction, but I think it's a great way to look at the world. What we can not change, we can accept...and that gives us peace.

Or am I wrong in my interpretation?


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YOu are both right, and both these posts are really helpful. Can't reinforce this process enough! Thank you both!

Scent of Cedar *

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For us, for all of us here, there is that added element of responsibility for a child. For us, it isn't just "I see." Until our children are grown, we are responsible for someone outside ourselves. There are so many questions, there is so much grief, before we learn that it is time, and past time, to let them go. Before we learn that we cannot go back, cannot call for a do over ~ cannot even figure out just what it is we would do differently. At some horrible point, we accept that for better or worse, our children are who they are; they are grown. And in the end, there is only the truth of letting go ~ another so difficult conclusion to reach and understand.

Nonetheless, it is what it is.

I could have spent the rest of my days in that safe little space I created between surviving and living. Strangely, that is where I thought I had to be, to accomplish what I intended to accomplish ~ to heal the generational line....

Perhaps I did not have the right not to live, really live, in my life time.

This is the way my daughter talks, Recovering. She is not sorry. She has regrets, but she is not sorry. Do you see the difference? I think that you do.

Maybe, the next step for me will be gratitude that these terrible things happened, but I think not.

How does that old saying go? Something about pain ending the instant the sufferer no longer sees any value in it.

I like this very much, Recovering.

Thank you.

The imagery is simple and clear.

I do feel so deeply sad that this all happened, though.

Which is also a choice.

We have to see it before we can let it go.



one day at a time
Until our children are grown, we are responsible for someone outside ourselves.

Read more: http://www.conductdisorders.com/community/threads/heaven-and-hell.56352/#ixzz2rzCWh4YA

UNTIL OUR CHILDREN ARE GROWN. Until our children are grown. Until our children are grown. Until our children are grown.

The legal age is 18, the drinking age is 21 and then they are adults right? The courts consider them responsible at 18 and they can also go to war. Let's even give them some leeway here, for our culture of "too precious" children and "helicopter parents" and "sense of entitlement."

At what point are they grown? I know that is something we have all struggled with. And then when there is mental illness we get even more confused.

I know that my difficult child is a 24.5 year old man with a maturity of a 13 year old. Is he grown?

He has clinical depression? How does that affect his age of adulthood?

I don't know all of the black and white answers to these questions, but I do know these things:

He can certainly live on his own when he wants to, even on the street for a 30-day period.

He can certainly find drugs and sell drugs and take drugs when he wants to.

He will NEVER have a chance to be a contributing adult, healthy and ethical and fine, unless I can let him figure that out on his own.

So, thankfully, culture and society says my son is an adult today. I don't have that hurdle. I just have myself to contend with on that question. And I have decided, I have decided, that he is an adult and I need to really, really, really give him the chance to be one.

Scent of Cedar *

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He will NEVER have a chance to be a contributing adult, healthy and ethical and fine, unless I can let him figure that out on his own.
You are right.

I am not in that place yet where I can see suffering with equanimity. I am beginning to see pain differently, am beginning to see it as the learning experience it is. Once that stage is complete, I may be able to stay in a stable place in the face of what happens.

I hope to get to that place.

Over time, I sense that I will.

For now, I am so deeply affected by the horror of it, each thing worse than the next, each requiring, now that I understand that I may be encouraging these horrible things somehow, a response I could not have imagined my self making. Because I see that detachment may end this cycle, because I see that my responses may be encouraging the terrible things in some way I don't understand, I am doing detachment the best I know how.

I can see that I have the power of interpretation. I just cannot see past the horror of what has happened to be in a place of acceptance.

On the question of when they are grown, I think that for those with addicted or mentally ill children, the answer is: When we are able to declare freedom from responsibility for them.

I agree wholeheartedly with your position.



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Having gone through much of the healing of my childhood over a span of decades, it's sometimes difficult for me to imagine how lightning fast this is happening for you Cedar, it must be overwhelming sometimes. There were so many feelings for me to wade through, anger and grief taking first and second place, and at times it was intense. As in your dream, you are sailing through all of this at warp speed. You are one committed lady!

My detachment from my daughter was lit up for the last two years, before that there were long periods of time where it was somewhat quiet and I had long breaks. Detachment from my mother came about 5 years ago. Sister? About 16 years ago. Brother? 20 years ago. Each stage of this was at times pretty gruesome as I waded through all the feelings. My take on it is that I went through each person in order of how attached I was to them............mother and daughter being the last and really, no comparison in intensity to the detachment from anyone else.

Observing your process, it appears that you said, "BRING IT ON!" And, well, here it is..........as if it just all got dropped at your doorstep for you to wade through in a matter of months.............at least that's how it seems from the time I started riding along on your journey............holy s%#t, you are BRAVE!! AND, it must be remarkably difficult to sort through all the feelings. I had MASSIVE amounts of support from therapists, groups, wise people I ran into who helped me immensely (and sometimes never saw again!) and at times I was facilitating support groups which gave me lots of insights and offered many rewards because I met others who had very similar backgrounds and we all healed together.

I just wanted to say all that because you are so earnestly and so carefully moving through so much material and so many feelings, and, well, I guess I just want you to be gentle and loving towards yourself. You bit off so much and you are doing such a good job of it all.............and along the way, perhaps you could acknowledge yourself, be oh so kind to yourself, recognize how far you've come, be gentle and reassuring to yourself and own just how courageous, powerful, committed, wise and wonderful you are............and have always been, regardless of any snafus that occurred with your children..........you are pretty awesome Cedar and you always have been. You did the very best you could with what you knew...........that's all any of us can do. You are doing a wonderful job in this healing stuff.............really.