Suffering and Awakening


It is not necessarily sad that we suffer, that we experience pain, disease or even death.


The real sadness is that we have lost consciousness of our true nature in which there is peace even in the midst of pain, misfortune and iniquity. This loss of true awareness is the real cause of emotional suffering, which in turn makes physical suffering hard to endure. Nor is it necessarily good that we experience happiness, health and longevity. These may only afford us a greater bondage to the outer world if we don’t use them for some higher purpose.


Our human creaturely drama is no more real than any other drama or show. Our personal identities are little more than masks from the standpoint of eternity. Our joys and sorrows are not different from those of dream creatures. We must recognize our insignificance and no longer be taken in by appearances. Our joy and sorrow are equally transient and unreal, part of the dance of time. It is the separate self, caught in its self-projected drama of gain and loss, from which we need release. Our great collective dramas—our wars, revolutions, great social progress or religious revivals—are also not real in any ultimate sense. Groups, like individuals, come and go in the nature of creation like waves on the sea.


Suffering is an energy to awaken us to truth, to get us to question who we really are.


The sad thing is that the sufferings which are inevitable in life do not awaken us to the falseness of our personal seeking. Matter is inherently suffering because it is the limited, bound by inertia. To experience suffering is to face the inherent limitation of material existence and physical life. We should not try to flee suffering but to understand it, to discover the truth of life that it reflects. Then suffering liberates us into joy.


Only when we allow our suffering to liberate us can we become liberated from suffering. Suffering is the breaking of the boundaries of the known and the familiar. If we are open to the truth of it, suffering cleanses and transforms us.


My prayer is not that we do not suffer, as suffering is inevitable and an integral part of life. My prayer is that we learn from our suffering, which is to learn to be aware. Then all suffering aids in our liberation. That is the essence of psychological healing.

March 17, 2018

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