"In traditional versions of the story, it’s said that no matter what appeared, whether it was demons or soldiers with weapons or alluring women, he had no reaction to it at all. I’ve always thought, however, that perhaps the Buddha did experience emotions during that long night, but recognized them as simply dynamic energy moving through. The feelings and sensations came up and passed away, came up and passed away. They didn’t set off a chain reaction.
This process is often depicted in paintings as weapons transforming into flowers – warriors shooting thousands of flaming arrows at the Buddha as he sits under the bodhi tree but the arrows becoming blossoms."
To be able to experience "negative" emotion without getting sucked into the destructive cycle of feelings feeding upon feelings is something that I really struggle with and am working very very hard at. Worth it?
I'm sure it is. Throughout my life I have found myself caught up in the dangerous downdraft of negativity. What starts out as a small misunderstanding or hurt feelings quickly escalates into my life falling apart. Even when I know it's not rational. Even when my brain is saying "stop this! it's not a big deal!" Even when I understand that I'm just caught up in negative emotion...I still feel it. I still FEEL like everything is just disintegrating. However, there have been moments when I've been able to avoid this cycle of negative emotion... usually through focusing on something positive or distracting. But I feel like the story of the buddha is teaching something else. Not to dodge the arrows but to accept them as blossoms. I haven't quite figured out how to do that yet... But i'm learning bit by bit.