Gaining perspective on your suffering
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Many of us were raised with the idea that emotions are bad and are best avoided. Unfortunately, avoidance does not mean escape, it merely means delay. When we avoid dealing with the inevitable pain we push it away to be dealt with another day. However, when we keep doing that, the pain piles up until we reach breaking point, i.e. “awakening”. Hopefully, you are able to reflect on yourself so that you may not have to come to that cataclysmic point of awakening. So, what is your perspective on suffering?
Suffering relates to our perception of the pain we experience. In Buddhism the teaching is that it is the desire and craving that causes the suffering. When we experience an emotion, for example, it is out desire to feel differently that causes us to suffer. If we just accepted the pain and sought to understand its purpose we could release our judgment of the pain. The same goes for pain in any of our other bodies; physical, energetic, astral and soul (the mental body having already been addressed), it is our desire or craving to feel different in that particular moment that causes us to suffer. Acceptance is the antidote to suffering.
Now, you might ask, “if we just accept where we are and what we experience, how can we develop from there if we have no desire for anything else?”, and that is a good question. The point here is that you cannot control you feelings, emotions, pain, etc., so resisting it becomes your suffering. We can, however, control out thoughts, our words and actions. If we bring in a practice of directing our thoughts, words and actions towards accepting our pain as part of our experince and strive to understand what it strives to teach us about ourselves, we can then, subsequently, direct them towards experiences we wish to have.
When pain comes we can, with the faculties we control, enquire as to what it is trying to teach us while we merely observe it. The aim here is to allow the pain to be released, as it seeks to do by its on volition, so the more we can avoid attaching to the pain the better. Do not confuse detachment with disassociation, the former gives you perspective to your pain, while the latter perpetuates it. If we can approach our pain with compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, and gratitude, we can release it and learn from it. The more pain we release the more space we have to create our own experiences without expectation nor craving. Gaining perspective on your pain releases your suffering, and releasing your suffering allows you to created your own experiences.