December 20 : Crawling Out of Holes

Sometimes in our practice we dig ourselves into a nice, deep hole. We sit in it and say, “The world is falling apart, something is wrong with it, something is wrong with me, the whole thing is just useless.” We can stay in that hole for quite a while even though it is very uncomfortable, with rocks and shards jabbing us here and there. We keep curling up and trying to get comfortable instead of planning how to get out. We can spend a lot of time doing interior design on our holes when all we need to do is stop and say, “There is a remedy to this situation. There are lots of people up there who can throw me a rope if I bother to ask them.” If we can muster the strength to ask, they might throw us a ladder that is even easier to climb than a rope. Likewise, if we see people in a hole asking for a rope, we can give them a ladder, or even a whole staircase if their hole is big enough.

We all have our variety of holes that we dig ourselves into. As we grow in the Dharma, it is interesting to see how the holes we dig are very similar each time with only slight differences. We may put the really sharp rocks in different places at different times, but the hole is very often the same shape. Some of our holes have small openings at the top but are very large at the bottom. We just lie there and think, “I could never fit through that teeny hole,” even though we are the ones who built it and jumped in! For others, the bottom of the holes are very cramped and narrow while the top are very big and wide. Then when they look up, they say, “Oh that’s too scary — it’s so big.” Others have specially designed their holes so that when they stand up to try to get out, they hit a lever that makes another pile of dirt fall on them. Some of us sit on one side of our hole and say, “Maybe I should sit on that side of the hole.” Then we go over to the other side of the hole and say, “No, maybe I need to be on that side,” and never find a completely comfortable place. It may seem silly to think like this but it is good to know how we build our own holes, and maybe even draw them out to see if they are hard or mushy. As time goes on, we will find it easier to detect when we are digging the hole and when we are sitting in it, and then we can get out much more easily.

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