Are you afraid of the second arrow?
In Buddhist tradition, there is a teaching about being shot with two arrows. That first arrow causes pain. The second arrow causes suffering. There is pain in being hit; there is suffering in realization and reaction. This is akin to the adage “fool me once shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Life is about response and reaction to the second arrows, especially now.
The Harvard Business Review recently had an article about building resilience in the face of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). They used the illustration of the two arrows as being the first arrow is the news of the virus: people getting sick, businesses shutting down, ongoing fearful news. That second arrow can no doubt be equally as painful, but how we react to it is our choice. How we RESPOND is how much suffering that second arrow can be.
What is the second arrow? In the case of COVID-19, it can be worries about if we will get sick. It can be boredom. It can be anxiety. Or it can be opportunity. It can be chances to rebuild. It can be moments to reconnect. We can either react with suffering or respond with curiosity.
How to increase your vision in the face of fear
There are a few steps of actualization involved in being able to open up your vision in the face of fear. The first step is to realize that your vision is funneled by fear, where you are limited in your ability to see “creative possibilities” (as the Harvard Business Review article above spoke of) and also the loving connections of our lives.
Let’s walk through a process of actualization:
- You are not your body
- You are not your thoughts
- Thoughts are not real
- You have creative control over the thought process
- Emotions created from thoughts are real
Our vision and our emotions are connected. What we allow in and how we respond are catalysts for creation. We need not worry about having emotions that make us uncomfortable because those emotions are the inspiration for our personal discovery. There is POWER in realizing, naming, and sitting with our emotions.
Ideally, we would not associate negative or positive connotations to our emotions, but rather watch them with presence and curiosity. This is how love is built. This is how creativity and energy is born. This is how we connect with ourselves and others around us.
Ask yourself today, how can I be aware of the pain of the first arrow so that I can better respond for the second arrow?