First Noble Truth of Buddhism: “Life is suffering.”
When life veers off the rails
shunting us to
detours unplanned,
lessons imposed
without instruction,
stumbling in confusion,
morphing into chaos
battling for control,
conceding to despair,
cursing fate;


conspicuously absent,
defeat perceived as
formidable forces
of demonic proportions,
indignant blaming
swift and massive
victimhood reigns supreme
when life veers off the rails;
are we ever on the rails?


Buddha’s parable states: 


We have eighty-three problems,
we resolve one,
another appears,
we always have
eighty-three problems.
refusal to embrace this,
creates problem eighty-four,
we don’t want any problems,
but still, eighty three remain,
we suffer exponentially
with eighty-four problems.


Copyright © Henri Ferguson 2013 All Rights Reserved
Author Notes
The seed of this poem came to me in my sleep and eventually woke me up in the middle of the night.  I laid there for a while speculating on whether or not I will remember these lines by morning and based on past experience got up to put these words down. The light must have awakened Michelle as all of a sudden she was standing there watching me at my desk…in the buff, but I digress.
Some travellers on a spiritual path erroneously believe that their journey will lead to freedom, immunity of sorts from suffering and pain. Notwithstanding the rationale that living an awakened life will mitigate life issues through right action and karmic correctness, the reality remains that none of us make it through life unscathed, period. Buddha teaches us that we live in a vexed and imperfect world that sees to it that we will always have eighty-three problems and he does not issue “get out of jail free” cards to anyone; no one. Some might choose to believe that money will save them from this but as Stuart Wilde says; “Money doesn’t buy you happiness, it merely allows you to experience your dysfunction in relative comfort”. Before enlightenment we chop wood and carry water, after enlightenment we chop wood and carry water.
Cancer is wreaking havoc here; Michelle is suffering tremendously, everything hurts, her speech is impaired, everyday things become a major hurdle but with tears of frustrations and moments of humanness she soldiers on. I can only watch. There is nothing I can do to change any of this, I cannot remove any part of this burden, I can only bear witness with love and compassion. Mostly this is an emotional blur but every now and then I wake up in the middle of the night with a sense of clarity that tells me I choose not to have eighty-four problems.