July 21 • 09:36 PM

Why bad things happen to good people

November 14, 2007
Sanso shima. So that's it! All of a sudden things make sense.

The day after the break-in I still feel the malevolent spirits in my house. I dump a bucket of logs on my way down the basement to my wood burner. They tumble down the stairs. One hits a bottle of vinegar on a storage shelf and sends it crashing to the floor. Glass shards fly, and the pungent smell of vinegar is unleashed like an ignoble genie from a bottle and vaporizes into the air.

I'm already way behind. In a huge hurry to run errands before it's too late. After not being able to sleep a wink I get up and realize that I must go into the dreaded room—the dead zone—to look for important papers like my passport, bank statements, etc. So I do. I feel the chaos in my brain. I find what I'm looking for and get the heck out.

Stoking the fire one last time before I leave turns out to bring more chaos—the vinegar genie, the wood chip monster trail yet another mess I must clean up.

What is going on? The incense I burned at 3 a.m., the shouting out I commanded, were they futile exercises? Whatever. I sweep up the glass, soak up the vinegar, vacuum the stairs and move on.

I've got to get a move on if I'm going to get the errands done in time. And now I'm further behind.

I grab my purse, turn the lock on the door and high-tail it out to my car. I realize I do not have my keys. No car keys. No house keys. Oh boy (not exactly what I say.)

My mind races a hundred miles a minute and I almost have to laugh. In my lunatic frenzy to secure every possible opening to my home the night before I realize that even my most secret entrance, one that was never discovered, is now impenetrable. My house is locked up tighter than Fort Knox, sealed like a bank vault, closed as tight as a tomb. Oh boy (not quite what I say).

Is it possible that I am now my own victim? No way. I think and think. Take my shoes off, pace around the old homestead. Come up with a plan that requires Santa Claus-like moves and thank the muses and every other good thing I can think of that I'm somewhat physically capable and strong and carry out my mission. Of course no cop goes by to see me breaking into my own house, though he wouldn't have been able to figure out what the heck I was doing anyhow.

At last, keys in tow, homestead secure, I go about my business and feel like it's finally over. I feel like the 'bad' is gone, like the malevolent spirits are dust.

Then I walk into the office on Thursday and everything makes sense. I open an email from writer Cynthia Pankala (see Local Lifestyles section for this week's 'Living LaVita Local').

She had just read my "break-in" column and wanted to offer her thoughts. Here's what she said:

"Yuk! I just hate that THAT happened to your sacred space...and I love your willingness, your ability to maintain that this is still a 'friendly universe'...what a test! In my late twenties, I traveled to Japan for personal spiritual study. The teaching that made its greatest impact is the realization that when you are dedicated to what they call the universal law—as you have been so visibly these past weeks in your columns on pronoia—it is practically an invitation for sansho shima, or devilish forces, within our lives to rise up and challenge our minds with who's really boss. Kudos to you on this particular victory!"

Sansho shima. I'm intrigued. I do some research and find out that it's a Buddhist teaching and its appearance in one's life is actually a means you're on the right track to enlightenment.

Buddhist master Nichiren Daishonin wrote: "There is definitely something extraordinary in the ebb and flow of the tide, the rising and setting of the moon, and the way in which summer, autumn, winter and spring give way to each other. Something uncommon also occurs when an ordinary person attains Buddhahood. At such a time, sansho shima will invariably appear. At a time when an ordinary person attains Buddhahood or at a time when a person is at a turning point in doing their human revolution, the negative aspect of life will appear in some form. This is an unavoidable fact of life! When this happens, the wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat."

Sanso shima, gimme what you got so I can knock you off the path...The universe is a friendly place, there's nothing you can do to change my mind about that.

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Castle Creek
07 - 21 - 19
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