Suffering. What is it & why is it essential to our growth?? I just read a great metaphor that goes along with this idea…“Accepting suffering seems to go against our instincts, even if we vaguely understand that acceptance is the currency that will procure our freedom. An ocean of ignorance, misunderstanding, and fear lies between our rejection of suffering and our acceptance of it. Crossing that ocean is the spiritual journey. It leads us from the shore of bewilderment to the shore of understanding, from fear to freedom.” -Elizabeth Lesser, The Seeker’s Guide
Isn’t that a beautiful image. To me it is like being caught in a thunderstorm upon the sea. Everywhere you look things are not clear, there is haze, there is pain, fear, there is misunderstanding. But all you can do is strive to go forward, to get through the storm. You go forward, through the suffering, through any struggle to see clearly what lies beyond. You finally make it out of the suffering and find a place of calm. I truly believe you must have a balance of suffering to instill an opening of growth.
Look at your own life—when you have suffered, what has been the outcome?? Did you feel you came out of the situation wiser? Did you follow your heart through the pain & in the end seemed to feel lighter? Did you find yourself in a moment of growth or reflection? I know for me personally, when the hardest days have hit, I was blessed to walk through it & feel stronger, to learn from the struggles & seek a higher direction. I look back and see how the suffering and struggles changed me & the lessons I learned along the way.
“Suffering occurs when your ideas about how things ought to be don’t match how they really are.” -Brad Warner
We go through life and have many moments and situations where we think things, ideas or people should match how we think things should be. When we place our own judgements, our own misconceptions, our own expectations upon things outside of ourselves, we are bound for suffering. ‘BOUND for SUFFERING’ this just hit me! When we expect things outside ourselves to be a certain way, we are almost setting ourselves up, we are tying & binding our heart to suffering. This is a very personal hard lesson for me. I get stuck expecting people to do certain things, to treat me a certain way, to respect and understand me, but this is a pathway to my own suffering. I can’t expect anything of anyone, but myself. This is an ongoing lesson for my life & I strive to grow in finding patience with this need. I have to be gentle and understand I am human!
The Buddha said, “The root of suffering is attachment.”
I think we as humans are experts at the relationships of attachment. I think most of us grow up and become attached to expectations, the future, our jobs, our status, our title, where & what we need to be doing, what others think, what ‘happiness’ or ‘success’ equals….there are so many directions and attachments that can and will lead to suffering. I think when we are able to let go of the [FEAR] of material attachments, to external obligations, and take the time to connect with our real, deep-rooted roots[DIVINE LOVE]…then suffering will be nothing but the lessons we learn and the roads we have walked beyond.