Flourishing Culture

Perfect Vision

September 3, 2020

Back in January, I had a check-in with a business associate. I was happy to report that I had four speaking engagements and a new contract for a major piece of business. She shared her prospects and offered a catchphrase that I embraced. She said, “Let’s view the year 2020 as a time of ‘perfect vision.’”


Perfect vision. So far, 2020 has been perfectly awful. The pandemic has taken such a toll on all of us, it’s hard to see our way out of the darkness.


And yet, it’s essential for us to see the light.


The one thing that has helped me get through this crisis is reminding myself that none of us has a life free of struggle. There is an anecdote told by Buddhists, which drives home this point.


It is the tale of Kisagotami. When her beloved child died suddenly, she went to the Buddha to ask him to bring her son back to life. The Buddha told her she needed to find a mustard seed that came from a family who never experienced grief because of a death. Kisagotami traveled from house to house seeking this ingredient and found no family that could offer her what she needed: All had struggled with loss and experienced grief. She returned to the Buddha empty-handed but learned the lesson – that grief is part of the human experience.


As the Buddha said, “Though you should live 100 years without seeing the Deathless State, yet better indeed is the single day’s life if one who sees the Sublime Truth”. (Dhammapada V 114).


What works for me nine months into this year is a broader definition of perfect vision. It’s more than what we discussed back in January when we were so hopeful. It’s having the clarity to accept the truth that life has both its joys and its sorrows and it is up to us to see and embrace “what is” and to learn and grow from our experiences.


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