I became convinced of the probable existence of a transcendent mode of consciousness that could not be comprehended within the limits of our ordinary forms of knowledge.
Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Philosophy of Consciousness Without an Object
My final word on this particular subject is: I sought a Goal the existence of which I had become convinced was highly probable. I succeeded in finding this Goal, and now I KNOW, and can also say to all others: “IT IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH ANYTHING THAT IT MAY COST, AND IMMEASURABLY MORE.
Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Pathways Through to Space
The quotes above are from an author I discovered sometime in the 1970’s – the first reports I’d ever read about an experience of life other than the one I was having. The idea of ‘a transcendent mode of consciousness,’ a way to ‘go beyond’ the way it felt to be me, gave me hope that there might be an escape from what the Lutherans referred to as ‘this vale of tears.’ I had been taught that life was suffering, and that, left to my own devices, I was worthless. (This may or may not have been what they taught, but it’s what I learned.)
I don’t think I’m unique in this. I think that many of us have been taught to suffer; taught that suffering is what we deserve; taught, even, that suffering is in some way a virtue. Those who can suffer in silence, who can continue on in spite of every reason to quit, these are our heroes: Kirk Gibson hitting his two-run homer to win Game One of the ’88 World Series with a sprained knee (the Dodgers went on to win the Series in five. It was Gibson’s only at-bat.); Kerri Strug sticking a one-foot vault landing in the ’96 Olympics to give the U.S. gymnastics team the gold; Bert Trautmann, a goalie for Manchester City Football Club, who in the 1956 FA Cup, continued to play with a broken neck because his team had no substitutes left. Manchester won.
These men and women all were feted as heroes, and rightly so. And many regular men and women show up above and beyond the call of duty – parenting, working, saving lives, putting food on the table for their families even when they are sick or injured – and they, too, are worthy of our respect. But these are people pushing past their limitations in order to do a job, showing up in spite of the pain and discomfort they may feel.
It is their insistence on being present and alive and useful that is worthy of our recognition and respect, not the suffering itself.
Pain exists. In life, it is a given. But suffering is another story. Suffering might be described as the pain we feel about being in pain. It is the self-obsession that sets in when we cannot get out of the pain, cannot see past the pain, when all our thoughts are engaged with our pain and what our pain says about ourselves and the world. We call this speculation. And speculation leads only to suffering. Ever.
Suffering is not a virtue. If it is presented as such, it is only because the person doing the presenting doesn’t know how to get out of it, doesn’t know how to end suffering.
And how do we end suffering? By finding our own way of experiencing this ‘transcendent mode of consciousness,’ and connecting with Source, with the truth of our Being, bathing in the healing waters of consciousness Itself; and then by getting present. Bringing ourselves out of our speculating mind to right here, right now, again and again and again, as many times as it takes.
Speculation leads only to suffering, ever and always; and suffering, in turn, leads to more speculation. We have the power to stop the vicious circle of it now. Today.
Meditate — get present — meditate — get present — go to sleep — wake — repeat.
Today I will refuse to suffer. Even if I am in pain. Especially if I am in pain. I will get present to this moment, to the miracle of life that is so freely given to me today.