Suffering – Easing the Pain

Illness and Suffering A recent experience of suffering made me reflect on an idea from another spiritual tradition, but universally true and relevant to all of us on the Divine Love path, namely the fact that in life we’ll encounter four pairs of experiences and need to accept these as an inevitable part of reality. These experiences are: pleasure and pain; praise and blame; gain and loss; and fame and dishonor.

We tend to be happy when we experience pleasure, praise, gain and fame; and sad, even upset, when the other aspects of life come our way – pain, blame, loss, and dishonor. Because our feelings are thus influenced by what happens in our life, our suffering in negative circumstances increases because we add to our distaste for them thoughts like, this is not fair; why is this happening to me?, how dare he/she talk to me like that?, …

A better way of dealing with these types of inevitable circumstances would be to accept them as a normal part of our human existence. They are all a part of life. This is the way it is, and thinking otherwise will not change it – only make us feel more miserable and thus increase our suffering.

There is no getting around the fact that our physical bodies are subject to sickness, injury and pain on several levels. As we age, we suffer losses – of youthful energy and beauty, mental and physical abilities, hair color or even hair itself, teeth, health, and more. We lose loved ones who may suffer mental or physical disabilities and ultimately pass away. And when it comes our turn to pass over, we leave behind most of what our physical life consisted of.
Our interactions with others, some of whom inevitably see things differently from us, will mean that we won’t please everyone all of the time or others will not always agree with us. As a result, what we say and/or do will be subject to criticism – sometimes justly, sometimes unjustly. Others may not only judge our words and actions, some will – unwisely – judge us as individuals. And there is a good chance that we have done the same and seen a person as “bad” on the basis of one or more unwise or unskilful actions.

Cycles in economy will mean that our investments will both rise and fall. From time to time, we’ll make wrong decisions and suffer consequences of one or more of pain, blame, loss, and dishonor. At other times, we’ll be at the wrong place at the wrong time and suffer because of others’ unwise or unskilful choices. All of us are imperfect, interconnected, and affecting one another for better or worse. This is all a normal part of life.

So as shown, at one time or another, pain, blame, loss, and dishonour will inevitably affect our lives. While they are challenging, it will be easier to deal with them by accepting them as a part of reality, instead of fighting them by asking why, or thinking, how strange that this is happening to me. They occur for a purpose – to teach us lessons, to set us on a better path, to help us grow and become better people, and to draw us closer to our Heavenly Father, among other reasons.

I’ll end with a paraphrase of thoughts from another writer on this subject: Think about all the depression, anxiety and irritation we put ourselves through by always seeing suffering as unfavourable and something to be avoided at all costs. Taking this view of problems and suffering and excessive worrying is not helpful because if we can do something to solve a problem, there is no need to worry or be unhappy about it; and if we can’t change the situation, then it doesn’t help to worry or be unhappy about it either. Secondly, if we avoid getting anxious and irritated, our strength of mind will help us bear and deal with whatever suffering we are experiencing. But while we are dominated by anxiety, even the smallest problem becomes difficult to cope with, because we have the additional burden of mental discomfort and unhappiness.”

Let’s determine regarding whatever we have to suffer in life – especially situations that we cannot change – to deal with it with acceptance and equanimity, rising above the circumstances, applying love and wisdom to it, and realizing that with the inherent impermanence and constant change in life, this too shall pass.

 

Article © 2016, Eva Peck

Concluding thoughts adapted from Transforming Suffering and Happiness by Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima.

Image by Intelimon

 

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