Free Your Pen

Buddhist Writing Prompt: Turn obstacles into the Path

Turn obstacles into the path is about working with whatever happens, no matter how difficult, rather than waiting for your life to be perfect. If you only meditate or write when you feel good, you’ll get stuck when you have a bad day.

The original lojong slogan is: When the world is filled with evil, transform all mishaps into the path of bodhi. The word bodhi means enlightenment, so this is saying that when things go wrong in life you can still practice.

You can’t control reality or stop problems from occurring. The general ups and downs of life will happen no matter what you do, even if you try your best. This slogan reminds you to work with whatever comes up rather than reacting automatically and unconsciously to mishaps.

If you can approach everything – good or bad – with mindfulness, then the obstacles in your life can become stepping stones on the path to enlightenment. In other words, when life gives you lemons – make lemonade!

Apply this slogan to your writing practice on those days when life just doesn’t go your way. When things go wrong you tend to grumble and gripe but that does nothing to change the situation. It’s easy to use the problems in your life as excuses to avoid writing. You say things like: I can’t write, I’m too distracted today; or I can’t write, I’m too angry, confused, scared, and so on. But if you use every mishap as an excuse not to write, you’ll never get anything done. Every day will bring another problem and another day will go by without you having written a word.

When you try to create the perfect environment in which to write you spend more time fighting against reality than writing. You can switch off your phone and avoid going online, but other distractions may be harder to control. So you’ll need a different approach. This slogan encourages you to work with the obstacles on your path rather than fighting them. Don’t wait for the perfect moment – write anyway.

Your writing prompt this weekend: In your slogan journal describe your perfect writing day. What would you have to change in order to create the perfect moment in which to write?

More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers


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