Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The ocean of suffering is immense, but if you turn around, you can see the land.” I take this to mean that it is possible to feel a powerful pain in your heart and still know that beauty and happiness exist. It is possible to know peace even when you feel almost consumed by suffering. As long as there is even just one flower that still blooms, you can be comforted by that.
It can be hard sometimes to see anything but your pain – to turn around when you are in the ocean of suffering – but it is always there for you. If you know this, it can be easier to sit with your pain, rather than running away from it. And you can always seek refuge in the heart of the Buddha, because his understanding of suffering was enormous. If you can see the land, you can embrace the place where you are now, learning and growing and healing your pain.
The Buddha found enlightenment through coming to understand the nature of suffering, and suffering is at the heart of everything he taught.
If we never knew suffering, we would not treasure peace.