At one time I was flying out of Heathrow airport to go to India and conduct our annual series of ten day Vipassana Retreats at the International Meditation Centre in Budh Gaya.
It was a stormy evening and the sky was black with clouds and occasional lightning flashes, a good indication of what was to come.
The take off was rough and bumpy with turbulance shaking the plane whilst the rain was driving hard against the windows. We disappeared into the swirling dark clouds and immediately the ground was lost to us. Our fitful and jarring ascent seemed to last an age until suddenly and without warning we rose above the clouds and the storm.
Here was a different world.
The sun shone red, illuminating the placid slow moving cloud beneath us, and the pale blue sky on the horizon radiated peace and infinite freedom. A single star shone in the distance.
Sitting, transfixed by this view, I could only think that this place was beautiful.
Then came the Dhammic realisation ;
Yes it was true, this place was beautiful, but to arrive in this place we first had to pass through the other place.

So often in our life we see ourselves trapped in the other place, a place where everything is difficult, people don’t understand us and we feel ourselves to be standing alone, being bumped and shaken by life hoping that someone will eventually come to our rescue and understand just who and what we are, and what we are trying to do.
To be above the clouds in the place of peace and tranquility is a dream for most of us when life seems to offer only frustration and confusion, and where our continuing spiritual journey of liberation will be undisturbed by the storm below.

But the other place is our training ground.
The place to truly test, not only our Dhamma understanding, but our determination and resolution to continue our journey, no matter what. It is only a sign of spiritual immaturity to think that everything must always be perfect for us without realising that everything is already perfect just the way it is.
This moment is the moment for our liberation and not some imaginary hollywood style moment in the future.
Look right now at your frustration, disappointment, your hopes, dreams and aspirations, your fears, your doubts.
Look at this mind in this very moment, understand intuitively its impersonal changing nature and see that this moment is only as it is.
Good, bad, right or wrong, are only personal judgements and the instant they are dropped there is the reality. Now we can respond, not from ego, fear and self- identity, but from the liberation of unconditional acceptance.

This is the liberation. To no longer be a vitim to this mind and it’s endless conditions for happiness.
Without wisdom, happiness is always seen as a goal of the future, available once we have organised the universes to be exactly as we want it to be. But the natural state of the mind is already happy and all we have to do is put down the conditions that lead to our unhappiness. Let go, let go, let go !
Happiness is not something to get. Happiness is something to realise.

There is a place beyond the clouds but the journey there is through the gift that we call ordinary life.
Remember, without our suffering, how could we be free from our suffering ?

May all beings be happy

Author's Bio: 

Michael Kewley is the former Buddhist monk, Paññadipa, and now an internationally acclaimed Master of Dhamma, presenting courses and meditation retreats throughout the world. For many years he was the guiding teacher at the Internetional Meditation Centre, Budh Gaya, India.
A disciple of the late Sayadaw Rewata Dhamma, he teaches solely on the instruction of his own Master, to share the Dhamma, in the spirit of the Buddha, so that all beings might benefit. On 26th May 2002 during a special ceremony at the Dhamma Talaka Temple in England he was awarded the title of Dhammachariya.
Full biography of Michael, plus books CDs and DVD extracts can be found at: