A Culture of Suffering?

I can’t help but notice the enormous energy most people expand to avoid suffering in their own lives and the life of those they cherish. Nevertheless it looks to me as if this very avoidance brings much more suffering.

Not only the Buddha promises – he does so categorically if I’m not mistaken – that there is an end to suffering but similar promises are made by mystics, spiritual masters, enlightened beings etc., and these promises are behind much of psychology and advertising as well. On the other hand I know from studying my own life and that of others that we cannot avoid suffering and that it is part of the depth of being human.
I’m not a masochist that enjoys suffering. Nevertheless, the further I go on my path in this life the more I see that all feelings and emotions are enhanced. And suffering is one of these feelings.
No, suffering doesn’t diminish once one has embarked on the spiritual path. Rather it becomes more and more subtle! I don’t suffer from the romantic ‘nonsense’ that Hollywood sells as a fulfilling relationship (or lack thereof) anymore – love is quite beyond romanticism – rather I keep discovering deeper and more subtle ‘cramps’ inside me (disregarding the environment and the suffering I see there and sometimes resonate with; a suffering that also is more and more clear and perceptible).
Yet, with the ability to give all this suffering space in me more and more I see the transfiguration of this suffering into what I would call ‘human depth.’ I don’t, of course, when I accept suffering “strategically” (accepting it so that it will change). Suffering, difficulty, problems – to accept these is not very hard if one sees clearly that sufferings do not disappear by not wanting to perceive/have them. And it doesn’t disappear by applying the label “illusion” either. And why would it? It’s part of being embodied and alive.
Suffering is real, just as joy is. If we do understand this and live it, then the suffering loses it’s sting…

3 Replies to “A Culture of Suffering?”

  1. Dearest Dalando,

    here in the Czech Rep. it is the middle of the night; so just a short reply.

    Firstly, thank you very much for your in depth reply.
    It was not my intention “to tell anybody to suffer”; not “to look and see”, especially not when they are seeking help.
    It is my view that there is no end to suffering, and even if the enlightened say so I have yet to experience one that has in actuality put an end to it once and for all.
    I am pleading for a “culture of suffering”, that is a culture in which we do not stop from alleviating the suffering where we might be confronted with it, but to do so on the basis of accepting our very feelings. Not making them wrong, out of place, not by judging them in such a way, but breathing in allowing ourselves to actualy being touched to the core by the feeling we do have – even if it is what we call suffering.
    A deep diagnosis of the situation the suffering is part of surely helps in alleviating it. It is my experience, though, that we all too often diagnose almost allopatically, looking for cures and pills before we allow ourselves to honor the disease. What I was aiming at is akin to homeopathy: permitting ourselves to feelingly suffer our ‘situation’ we become the medicine the world seeks.

    In my view suffering is inevitable, and therefor there is only two kinds of suffering: the fruitful kind and the wasted kind. Unaccepted (denied, repressed, fled from) suffering is wasted. Accepted suffering is, in itself already, fruitful: it gives us human depth. Then – and I totally agree – there are further steps to be taken. An endless path of forever deepening value. And if on this path we must suffer enlightenment, so be it 🙂

    Love from Postupice

  2. Perhaps when we suffer fully we are gnawing away at the foundation of our faults, hoping to be better somehow in a later year, perhaps even a later life. As someone who must from time to time give counsel to my children and students, I can appreciate your suggestion of embracing the suffering. Yet, when witnessing a soul in suffering, I sense that ‘to be told to suffer’ is not why they were seeking help. Suffering is a symptom of a life not right and I sense we are being asked to unmask the source of suffering so that we and others may live a balanced life.

    So while it is good to allow our natural healing mechanisms time, to do their miraculous service, as doctors of our own soul or the soul of love ones in our life, I wonder how far the advice of ‘look and see’ will help someone in pain. Perhaps by being there to witness our own suffering or the suffering of others we already serve a great purpose, yet I sense there is a greater urge to help, to serve by finding ways to bring balance back to those who suffer.

    Embracing our painful world is an extension of accepting ourselves and the actual world, as apposed to our delusional expectations of self and life… yet then their is another step, a proactive one. A step forward in which we clinically diagnosis our situation and find again our subjective balance in this present time and space.

    Yes, accept where we are, but suffering is like that dynamic place between one foot planted firmly on the ground and the other still suspended in air. When we walk, to achieve and maintain our balance, we must complete the step by leaning forward. To embrace the place of unbalance while in motion is enlightenment. To dwell there too long we will most likely fall.

    Love from Japan

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