Posts Tagged ‘suffering
We’re All in the Same Boat
We’re all in the same boat. Born as we are in this human body, we can’t escape the blessings and tortures of the human brain.
From our first breath, we yearn for love and understanding in the most complicated ways imaginable. We find it most satisfying as we learn to give it. The ability to do this comes from acceptance of our frailties. By understanding the conditions of our own lives, we accept the conditions of others.
Compassion is not condescension, but a leveling of the playing field, a recognition of yourself in others and an acceptance that their stress is your stress, that their happiness is your own. The gulf between us all is imaginary, born of insecurity and fear.
– Stephen Schettini, from “What to Expect When You’re Reflecting,” Tricycle, Fall 2008
Seeing the suffering in the world around us and in our own bodies and minds, we begin to understand suffering not only as an individual problem, but as a universal experience.
It is one of the aspects of being alive. The question that then comes to mind is: If compassion arises from the awareness of suffering, why isn’t the world a more compassionate place?
The problem is that often our hearts are not open to feel the pain. We move away from it, close off, and become defended. By closing ourselves off from suffering, however, we also close ourselves to our own wellspring of compassion.
We don’t need to be particularly saintly in order to be compassionate. Compassion is the natural response of an open heart, but that wellspring of compassion remains capped as long as we turn away from or deny or resist the truth of what is there.
When we deny our experience of suffering, we move away from what is genuine to what is fabricated, deceptive and confusing.
–Joseph Goldstein, Seeking the Heart of Wisdom
Changing Like the Weather
The first noble truth says simply that it’s part of being human to feel discomfort. We don’t even have to call it suffering anymore; we don’t even have to call it discomfort. It’s simply coming to know the fieriness of fire, the wildness of wind, the turbulence of water, the upheaval of earth, as well as the warmth of fire, the coolness and smoothness of water, the gentleness of the breezes, and the goodness, solidness, and dependability of the earth. Nothing in its essence is one way or the other. The four elements take on different qualities; they’re like magicians. Sometimes they manifest in one form and sometimes in another…. The first noble truth recognizes that we also change like the weather, we ebb and flow like the tides, we wax and wane like the moon.
–Pema Chodron, Awakening Loving-Kindness