In the moments leading up to his enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree, the Buddha was attacked by the armies of Mara. The armies came wielding many weapons…..bows, arrows, tridents, and swords. However, as they approached the sitting Siddhartha, their armaments were transformed into flowers, which then showered him like offerings.

Working intimately with a teacher is the same as learning to stop shielding ourselves from the completely uncertain nature of reality. All the ways that we hold back and shut down, all the ways that we cling and grasp, all our habitual ways of limiting and solidifying our world become very clear to us, and it’s unnerving. At that painful point, we usually want to make the teacher wrong or make ourselves wrong or do anything that is habitual and comforting to get ground back under our feet. But when we make an unconditional commitment to hang in there, we do not run away from the pain of seeing ourselves…..and this is a revolutionary thing to do and it transforms us. But how many of us are ready for this? One has to gradually develop the trust that it is ultimately liberating to let go of strongly held assumptions about reality.
 When anyone asks me how I got involved in Buddhism, I always say it was because I was so angry with my parents. The truth is that they saved my life. I tried hard…..very, very hard…..to go back to some kind of comfort, some kind of security, some kind of familiar resting place. Fortunately for me, I could never pull it off. Instinctively I knew that annihilation of my old dependent, clinging self was the only way to go. . . .
Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off…..center, in…..between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open…..ended state of affairs.
To stay with that shakiness…..to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge…..that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic…..this is the spiritual path. Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of gently and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior. We catch ourselves one zillion times as once again, whether we like it or not, we harden into resentment, bitterness, righteous indignation….. harden in any way, even into a sense of relief, a sense of inspiration.
Every day we could think about the aggression in the world. All over the world, everybody always strikes out at the enemy, and the pain escalates forever. Every day we could reflect on this and ask ourselves, “Am I going to add to the aggression in the world?” Every day, at the moment when things get edgy, we can just ask ourselves, “Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?”

The mighty elephant-headed god Ganapati, also known as Ganesh, provides wealth and success to devotees, and is frequently found in places of business in India. He is pictured here surrounded by treasures and bodhisattvas. The wish-fulfilling jewel above his head helps his followers understand the dharma and attain enlightenment. When his image is placed over a doorway, he ensures a safe journey and return home. Ganapati can help those who call on him to overcome any obstacle.