Suffering and Gratitude – October 7 2019

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.

Rumi

Pain is a given. Suffering is optional.

Anonymous

Suffering is such an easy thing to fall into. Each of us has our own version of it. ‘Everybody wants something from me.’ ‘Nobody understands me.’ ‘I work and I work and I never get ahead.’ ‘Where’s mine?’ ‘Oh, God! It’s another one of those days!’

These thoughts are habitual. They don’t necessarily change from year to year or even from transformation to transformation. We may be absolutely different people than we were five years ago (and if we’ve been meditating, it’s pretty much a guarantee this is the case); but when we fall into our own particular malaise, the thoughts and feelings that arise today may be nearly indistinguishable from the ones we had back then. 

As meditators we must recognize these thoughts as evidence of stress release. Thoughts that tell Life (me) that I am not worthwhile are stress release thoughts.

Any thought that leads to the conclusion that I am a bust, or that the world in some way is a bust, is by definition a stress release thought. Nature does not think of itself this way. Lions do not berate themselves for eating the gazelle. Grass does not commit suicide.

When our thinking sends us in the direction of the negation of life, we recognize it as the voice of stress release. These thoughts are not me. They in no way define who or what I am. What I am is a perfect expression of nature, and by releasing these stresses within me, nature is clearing me of all that stands in the way of its full expression through me. 

Recognizing this may not change our feelings immediately, but by refusing to be defined by these thoughts and feelings and ideas of self, we at least are allowing an opening for the feelings to move through us, as they certainly will do.

And then what? And then we get busy with life. We get present to the next task at hand and we take a look around at the people in our life who have been at the mercy of our suffering self. The people who love us and count on us and need us to be the bright shining beacons of love and consciousness nature would have us be. For it is a guarantee that if we have been suffering, those around us have been suffering along with us. We cannot suffer in isolation (no matter how some of us may try). 

And we become grateful to those who remain willing to put up with us and those shortcomings in our behavior that will, from time to time, arise to remind us that if we’re still here on the planet, we probably have a bit more work to do.

Gratitude may not be the opposite of suffering, but it is certainly a worthy alternative.

I am grateful for your hair, the beauty of your eyes, your way with words, your heart that always is ready to give, your willingness to grow, your willingness to not know, the way you garden, naked, early in the morning, your love of family, your love of wine, your love of pottery and tennis, your glass-half-full ways, your love for your son, your belief in God, your belief in the power of poetry, your belief in the power of love, your Catholic ways, love of your mother, love of Mother Divine, your pale white skin, your lips, your smile, the way you love your friends, the way you love.

Adele, Battery Park, NY, NY

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