The Buddha’s teachings on cultivating caring aim to equip us with skilful defences which strengthen and protect us without compromising our sensitivity and discernment. They aim to give us the skill to meet life, whatever that might mean in our case.
Nobody goes through this experience of life without periods of feeling intensely challenged. What matters is how well prepared we are for the challenges. If our heart faculties are not adequately developed, if our spiritual education isn’t sufficient, it is understandable that we feel ill-equipped.
However, feeling ill-equipped doesn’t exempt us from having to face the consequences of storing away our suffering in unawareness. Accumulated unlived life doesn’t simply disappear; it lurks in the basement, festering. The fumes emitted by our stash of unacknowledged suffering can have the effect of desensitizing us, leading to dispiriting cynicism.
If we have even an inkling that this could be true, it makes sense to stop avoiding and begin looking for ways to start clearing out the basement. Don’t be deterred by concerns about how long it will take. The Buddha encourages us to just get started. Many unexpected means of support will be offered to us along the way.
This reflection by Ajahn Munindo is from the book, Alert to the Needs of the Journey, (pdf) p.55.