For many spiritual seekers the allure of the ‘end of suffering’ is too much to resist.
We imagine religious figures such as the Buddha or Ramana enjoying perfect bliss and unassailed by the torments of suffering.
But for most of us life isn’t really like that.
We live in the world with our mortgage and our kids and our bills and whatever particular illness may be afflicting us right now.
And we find that life is not always perfection and bliss.
And that we suffer.
How Suffering is Mind made
But the truth is that much (if not all) of our suffering is mind-made.
We create it ourselves.
For example, we go to take the bus to work, and we find that the bus is several minutes late.
So we begin to think of the consequences of being late…..
What our boss will say.
How our reputation will be affected.
What it will be like to walk into that important meeting with everyone else there after it has already begun.
Or something even worse happens……
Like we are diagnosed with cancer.
And we imagine all the torment that we are going to endure…..
The sickness that is coming our way.
And how we will die and leave behind those so close to us that we love.
And so on….
Yet often, if not always, the future never quite pans out how we imagine it will.
The meeting at work may have been cancelled.
Or we find the path of cancer is not the horror-show we thought it was going to be….
We find the actual reality of living is not the same as we had envisioned.
And that our suffering is formed in the imagined, not in the real.
Here’s How We Do That
Have you ever been outside and got caught in a rain shower.
You know – that time you got absolutely drenched?
Did you resist the rain and complain to yourself how unlucky you were?
Or how stupid you were not to bring an umbrella?
Or did it go another way?
Did you find after a while you gave up any hope of remaining dry?
And just relaxed and accepted the fact that it was raining and that you were going to get completely soaked…?
Did you notice when you moved into that acceptance that something had changed and your suffering has gone?
Being at War with What’s Happening
This is the ‘trick’ of life.
We tend to be ‘at war’ with what is happening.
In fact we do our best pretty much all the time to be in denial of what is happening.
And to manipulate life to fit the way we imagine it should be.
If we can truly accept what is happening when it happens, we can cease to suffer.
But this is not a simple intellectual understanding.
It is a deep realisation of this truth of non-resistance.
(Much as of course, the intellectual understanding helps.)
Many people spend along time on the path working with their mind to bring about this acceptance by observing their thoughts.
But the true release from suffering occurs when the acceptance arises with the event.
When Effort is No Longer Required
When there is no longer any need to ‘work with the mind’.
It just occurs naturally.
And it is my experience that this CAN come about.
This actually IS possible.
But it isn’t likely to be brought about by meditation or simple mindfulness practices.
Rather it is brought about by deep inquiry into the mechanisms at work.
By seeing the underlying cause of the resistance to life.
And not many people seem to want to go there.
Rather they prefer to remain in suffering.
They prefer to remain in the mind.
There is an ancient story of a man who was shot by an arrow.
As he was lying on the ground a doctor approached him.
The doctor said to the man, “I can remove that arrow for you, and all the pain it causes.”
The man replied, that he would surely like that, but first he would like to know why he was shot.
And by whom. And with what weapon.
And where it was made….
Suffering Is What We Are Used To
The story sounds ridiculous, but this is what we do.
We overlay our pain (being shot with an arrow) with a story about it.
And then get trapped into that story.
Suffering is indeed optional, but we would rather stay in it than take the necessary steps to be free of it.
And of course this is not our fault.
As humans it often takes some kind of adversity, such as an illness or a tragic event, to push us to the next level.
But it IS worth realising that this is what we do.
Think about it…..
How long have you been suffering?
And is the path you are following really RADICALLY CHANGING the amount and experience of suffering in life for you?