It seems human nature to try to avoid challenging situations in life, almost like we’re hard-wired that way. Perhaps some internal awareness is operating, attempting to save us from having to deal with things we wished were not a part of our life.
When a difficulty presents itself to you, what are you inclined to do? Do you shy away or pretend it’s not real or solicit for help from others? Or do you face it, recognizing it’s unlikely to be resolved without your direct intervention?
There are of course lots of other strategies, but most seem to come with potentially uncomfortable consequences.
You may be thinking this very moment about something you’re facing and wondering how to proceed. Or you may want to arm yourself with a new approach for when the time comes for your next challenge.
You might already know that I am a writer. Afterall, you are reading something I’ve written right now. But I write more than these posts. I am wholly engaged in a series of books that all go by the title of Little Buddha, and I’ve just completed Book Four. In it there is a story about a young man, Max, who worked in the western part of the America doing an internship with the US Forestry Service. This gave him the opportunity to observe nature and experience her wisdom.
Although he learned many things from the Forestry workers, a Native American by the name of Black Elk, was the one who taught him the ways of nature and filled him with a living wisdom he could carry with him. More than this even, Black Elk taught Max how to observe and understand life for himself. Certainly, a most precious gift.
Perhaps the most valuable teaching of all came one day when Max was observing a herd of buffalo and watched as a massive snowstorm swept toward them. He paid as careful attention as he could, trying to see what each of them would do. In the chaos and blinding snow too much happened for him to notice it all. He wanted to understand better, so he asked Black Elk to share his wisdom.
Black Elk, whose normal approach was to teach through asking questions, decided to explain through the use of his own observations.
This is the story he told Max.
“Many, many years ago there was a Sacred Buffalo. All the other buffalo watched the Sacred Buffalo and followed the Sacred Buffalo everywhere it went, always finding enough to eat. One day, a great storm arrived. Many buffalo turned away from the storm, charging as fast as they could, trying to outrun it. Others watched to see what the Sacred Buffalo would do. The Sacred Buffalo snorted and stamped its great hooves upon the earth. Then, giving one great cry, it glanced at the herd and ran full speed into the storm, disappearing in a wall of white snow. All the other buffalo followed stampeding behind where the Sacred Buffalo had disappeared into the whiteness. A short time later all the buffalo emerged from the storm into a place of stillness and there, grazing peacefully, stood the Sacred Buffalo.”
After some more discussion Max came to understand the value of heading into the storm. He accepted and embraced the story and shifted his life, recognizing the wisdom of the Sacred Buffalo.
In my own life, I’ve seen that trying to avoid or run away from my problems has caused an enormous amount of pain and suffering for me. I’ve allowed all those scary, fearful, difficult decisions that have come to visit me too much reign over me.
The essence of Max and Black Elk’s story enlightens me. Opening myself and allowing courage to come forth, then acting swiftly and boldly, heading directly into the storm of any problem, I now see as the wisest path forward. It shortens the length of the storm and leads me into a place of peace.
In the story Black Elk gives Max a carved wooden buffalo that had been bleached white by the sun as a reminder for his travels through life.
My hope is that I remember the teaching of this story.
Should you wish to read more of the story, you can order a copy of the book, Little Buddha Book Four by Rob H. Geyer, on Amazon in either print or ebook format.