Where Is That Second Arrow?

According to the Buddha when we feel pain there are two arrows released. We are unable to avoid the first arrow, pain, however we can avoid the second arrow, our reaction to the pain. Pain in life is inevitable, but our reaction to the pain is controllable. We can choose to accept the pain or we can choose to suffer.

On June 11, 1963 Thich Quang Duc lit himself on fire to protest the religious persecution of the Catholic led government. It is said that he sat without making as sound as his body ignited, and was consumed by fire. What does this have to do with the two arrows? Thich Quang Duc allowed the first arrow to strike, but did not react to the second arrow. He had complete control of the situation. He was the master of his destiny, and quite frankly changed the world forever.

We all have ability to control our reactions to painful situations. Mindfulness practice and meditation can be the first steps to removing suffering from our lives. Unless you practice frequently and often this ability can be fleeting. I haven’t been practicing as much lately, and I have been noticing quite the difference in my reactivity. I think it’s time to once again create a daily practice. Even it’s just a few minutes.