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Reflections on Suffering

Suffering and death are two of the most fundamental issues with which we must ultimately come to terms.

In this process, it can help to remember that pain is an inherent aspect of finite, physical experience. Suffering, on the other hand, is a mental / psychological / emotional construct, and while it arises naturally in conjunction with any narrow, individual identification, it is an experience we do not have to create.

Even common knowledge reminds us of this simple truth with the frequently quoted phrase: "Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional."

It is also important to remember that brutality, cruelty and intolerance arise from a profoundly narrow sense of identity, which limits our ability to understand and relate to others.

In contrast, compassion is born of a broad sense of identity, which enables us to identify with others -- and to experience forgiveness.

Suffering is the ultimate challenge to a narrow and limited sense of identity. It provides an invaluable opportunity for each of us to discover that we are more than the finite body, mind and emotions with which we tend to identify.

As we begin to recognize our ability to observe our own suffering, we will also begin to recognize that the Essence of who/what we are is not bound or limited by suffering as it arises. We are, instead, the nameless Reality which lies beyond. We are that vast field of Awareness which contains our suffering, and all the experiences of our humanness.

It is natural that we should recoil from the tragedy and pain in our lives. These difficult experiences challenge our understanding of the larger benevolence of Reality.

And, yet, at the same time, their inevitability drives us into a recognition of a Reality far larger than our individual pain and suffering.

Beyond and within the immediacy of this moment lies the Infinity of Truth. This Reality will never die. How can we ever despair knowing that Truth is also supremely Real?

See also:

  • Identity
  • Suffering
  • Reality
  • Timeless Wisdom: Suffering
  • Truth
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