Showing posts with label suffering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label suffering. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

In this life pain is inevitable: suffering is optional.

The question of why there is suffering is an interesting question in an of itself because there is a hidden assumption in the question that there shouldn’t be suffering.

Let’s first make the distinction between suffering and pain. I think of them as two different things. It appears that pain is a necessary part of life and has great survival value because it is a signal that there is a problem. Without pain we would not be aware that we are injured or that our body is not functioning properly. Without pain we would not become aware that our behavior is ineffective or objectionable to others. Pain provides important information and it benefits us immensely. Without pain we would surely die sooner and so it has great survival value for us.

Because we experience pain, we sometimes, but don’t have to, suffer. Suffering is the result of our interpretation of the meaning of pain. Often we believe we don’t deserve pain or that we are victimized by pain when it fact pain is a friend which is trying to teach us something. Sometimes the more we resist and avoid pain the more we suffer because we are unwilling to recognize pain, acknowledge it, learn from it, and act appropriately to manage it.

Pain is part of life, suffering is optional. It helps in diminishing and eliminating suffering if we understand our pain, where it stems from, what causes it, what will decrease it, how we can manage it so it no longer scares us. It helps in diminishing and eliminating suffering to have people in our lives who are witnesses to our pain and can reassure us, help us alleviate our pain, and assist us through it. Pain is worse when we endure it alone. Often it is lonliness which turns pain into suffering. The old saying that “misery loves company” is true. Pain loves companionship, understanding, explanation, consolation.

Many times people see pain as punishment and in some instances it is, but more often it is a signal that something is wrong. Spirituality helps us become aware of context, see things in perspective, understand the circumstances of pain, and thereby decrease or eliminate suffering.

When my two children were killed in a drunk driving crash I was suffering terribly. Brigid was 5 and Ryan was 8. They were the youngest of Angela and my 9 children. One day I stupidly said to her, “Did you ever think that we would have been better off if we had stopped having children after the seventh? If Ryan and Brigid had never been born we wouldn’t be going through this now.” As soon as I said these words, I realized how stupid they were. I imagined in my mind God saying to me, “David, I have given you 7 beautiful, healthy, attractive, intelligent, good children, and I will give you two more but you can only the boy for 8 years, and the girl for 5 years, and then you have to give them back to me, do you still want them?”

I would have said enthusiastically, “Yes, Lord!” because they were beautiful children. I enjoyed them so much and they brought so much to the world. The world is much better off having had them for 8 years and 5 years. They have enriched the lives of all who knew them, and continue to enrich the lives of those who hear the stories about them.

Their deaths pain me still but I don’t suffer because I have been richly blessed far beyond what any man deserves in a lifetime. I am extremely grateful and appreciative and filled with great joy and contentment and satisfaction.

Suffering is the result of mismanagement of pain. Pain is a gift, suffering is a curse. Suffering has nothing to do with God or spirituality, we bring it upon ourselves.

All people want happiness and to avoid suffering. This can be achieved through a healthy spirituality, and this involves the acceptance of pain as a gift to learn from and manage effectively. If we are suffering ask for help from a wise family member, friend, pastor and/or counselor, because it is not necessary.

God does not want us to suffer. God loves us unconditionally. To rise above suffering we must forgive the things we have become attached to on the ego plane for not making us happy and realize that our true happiness is found on the path of the Spirit where we realize that we are One with God and all living things.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

ACIM and UU - Chapter Two, "The causes of human suffering."

Human suffering
Chapter two
Cause of human suffering

            The Buddha taught that the cause of human suffering was attachment to people and  things and the inevitable loss and rupture of those attachments.

            A Course In Miracles teaches that, at a metaphysical level, what causes suffering is the separation from the Oneness, “the tiny mad idea,” and the consequent guilt, and fear of punishment.

            The ego teaches us that our salvation lies in special relationships to people and things which is very similar to the Buddhist idea of attachment. When our special relationships fail us, we project our fear and anger onto others and accuse and blame them for not making us happy. This anger, resentment, and grievance is the basis for human suffering.

            Special relationships are based on the two dynamics of “give to get,” “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” and “one or the other,” “it’s not me, it’s you.”

            The antidote to human suffering is what the Course calls the “Atonement” which is the recognition we can change our minds about the causes of our suffering and come to understand that our suffering is not caused by the other, but by our expectations and thoughts about the other. The “miracle” is changing our mind, our decision making choice, about the causes of our suffering. No one and no thing can make me think and feel and behave any way that I don’t want to. My response to my perceptions is always up to me and the Holy Spirit.

            It is this recognition that I have a decision making mind which affords me the opportunity to forgive myself for my mistaken belief that my happiness, peace, and well being is to be found in blaming others and attempting to change them. Clearing away the obstacle created by this mistaken belief that the other is causing my unhappiness allows me to become aware of Love’s presence  within which is my natural inheritance.

            Unitarian Universalists intuit this reality when they enter into a covenant with each other to affirm and promote their seven principles. The Universalist faith is based on the idea that God loves everyone unconditionally and would send no one to hell. Hell is of our own making when we choose wrongly blaming others for our suffering.

            The first principle of Unitarian Univeralism is the affirmation and promotion of the inherent worth and dignity of every person. It is in this recognition and awareness that we become aware of our own holiness and that of others and in this consciousness the sanctification of the world is created. This awareness ends suffering as we experience what the Course calls the “Holy Instant” of Oneness.
Print Friendly and PDF