The Second Arrow

Happy New Year!

So, this post is really about me reposting an old Buddhist story that originated in the Sallatha Sutta. Read it and enjoy. I don’t have a whole lot of new commentary for it, other than I think the concept is a pretty dynamite one. More people should be aware of this story.

The first arrow is shot as soon as each of us is born. The first arrow represents our mortality, our suffering, our current and future losses; it is the truth that life does not revolve around you and one day you will die, as will everyone you have ever loved.

Really makes you want to keep reading the rest of this, right? I could promise you that there is cake at the end, but that would be a lie.

(Bonus points for those who get that reference.)

As bad as the first arrow is, we get shot with a second arrow. The Second Arrow represents our relationship, or how we deal with the First Arrow. Do we wish life (and thus, the First Arrow) to be different than it really is? Do you struggle desperately with what you want rather than with what is?

Another way of putting it:

The First Arrow: Physical suffering and mortality

The Second Arrow: Emotional suffering and our unhealthy attachments/neuroses/ etc.

The Second Arrow, other than being a really good band name for musical talent I never had, is a great concept to be familiar with.

The process of allowing the Second Arrow to take over your life and cause you more misery is an active process. Meaning the Arrow is not doing anything to you, but you are allowing the arrow to affect you. Because of certain runaway or negative thoughts, emotions and behaviors the Second Arrow become overwhelming for you. We have the ability to become more mindful to those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and slowly change how we relate to the Second Arrow. It takes time, but it is better to deal with what is, than with what you wish you had.

And if you can’t do that, best go on vacation.  I’m off to Florida, and I mean to practice mindfully enjoying the sunshine and the sand.

I promise to be back and talk about scary things like confrontation and narcissists and managing our expectations.

About Therapyisdandy

A dandy therapist
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