The Power and the Pain: Transforming Spiritual Hardship into Joy
In The Power and the Pain, Andrew Holecek divides chapters of his teachings by the Three Turnings, or teachings, of the dharma, and associates different cycles of suffering with each. Applying Buddhist principles to different hardships and difficulties along the Buddhist Path, he writes to help those cope with obstacles we stumble upon while moving forward.
In “Hardship as Loss of the Feminine” Holecek explains the concepts of masculine and feminine principles in relation to suffering. In Buddhist cosmology, Holecek writes, ladies come first. I took this chapter with the understanding that Holecek writes on Tibetan Buddhist ideologies being transmitted through Western society, and any critique would require an analysis that takes this into consideration.
Holecek uses terminology that is specific to Buddhism, but it is definitely not only for Buddhists. The Three Turnings are presented as a template for hardships that arise on a spiritual path. Holecek makes the point early on that one might enter the path unconsciously, and what I got from that was the idea that these practices would be beneficial for healing the heart and spirit, even if one doesn’t necessarily believe they are on a spiritual path.
Life is never as tidy as going from Point A to Point B to Point C, and it was possible to read select chapters and not feel you were missing anything. I received The Power and the Pain during a most spiritually tiring time in my life. I was going back to school after a five year hiatus, and the kids were on their summer break (and this meant childcare issues, or lack thereof). These challenges were coupled with serious transitions happening at work. Being a non-linear reader, I randomly opened the book to start reading and found this: “If you are wondering where you should go on your path, look into those areas that scare you and you will find your next step.” That seemed pretty right on.
Even though I am not a practicing Buddhist, I found that The Power and the Pain spoke to me as a guide, and I often went back to passages that connected how outside pressures and events can affect one’s spirit, which made the connection click.