Giant Buddha sculpted into the cliff at Leshan Flickr photo by Chi King

POEM: Suffering, Our Best Teacher

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By Christi Ortiz

Can we blame him, Buddha’s father?
As a devoted, single father wouldn’t he want the best for him?

If I were a rich ruler, I too would not spare any expense
to keep my child from any possible harm or suffering.
Isn’t that what all parents want?
To give their child a life free from suffering, sickness, and death;
Full of every joy and pleasure we could afford them?

And yet how interesting that even though the Buddha had a unique ability to live in this suffering free cocoon of incessant pleasure with his every need met, it was only in breaking out that he was freed.

His entrance into transformation came when he walked through the door of suffering.
It was suffering that became his teacher and springboard into ascetic exploration.

I think that must comfort us as parents.
Often we worry about protecting our children from suffering,
not trusting that it too can be a teacher.

We love our children so much we want to pave a path to success for them
But it is often in finding their own path that they fulfill their truest potential.

His journey is comforting to single parents
or whose lives have been touched by grief and loss.
Though losing his mother as a tiny babe, his growth teaches us
that there are many elders who teach our children,
it is the community that raises and shares the responsibility,
for truly we belong to one another.

His story is comforting to those parents that worry
they do not have enough to give their children.
His story reminds us that it was in leaving the palace with all its opulence
that his growth and character developed.

His life is comforting to those parents who worry that their children have had too much, growing up sheltered from the violence and suffering of the world.
He reminds us that they too will be touched in one way or another by this world’s pain and that they too will find their response and calling in this life.

His wisdom and acceptance teaches us
that it is our response to suffering
that makes all the difference.

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Christi Ortiz

About Christi Ortiz

Christi Ortiz is a licensed marriage and family therapist by profession and a poet by passion.  She enjoys trying to put to words to that which is wordless and give voice to the dynamic and wild spiritual journey called life. She lives in Spokane with her husband and two children, Emmanuel and Grace. She loves the outdoors and meditating in the early mornings which gives rise to her poetry.

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