Notes on the Journey

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Nature of Suffering

The following is a quote from the Dalai Lama:  "The suffering and happiness each of us experiences is a reflection of the distortion or clarity with which we view ourselves and the world."

That's genius.  It's so simple, and it encapsulates volumes of spiritual study.

When we're really able to see ourselves and the world with clarity--no illusions, no denial, no expectations, no desires, no needs--and accept it and deal with it for what it is without resistance then there's nothing to trigger suffering.  We might not like what we see, but it's not about what we like.  It's about accepting the truth and doing what's necessary in regard to it.  Suffering is born out of resistance.  We might prefer another scenario, but it's not about what we prefer.  It's always about what is.

I read another article recently in which the author, Rev. Kylie Renner of the Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living, said that she no longer resists her resistance, which is perfect.  Full acceptance of what is, but watching it and learning from it.  The allowance of what is occurring to be there from the stance of the watcher.  We can't make ourselves feel differently than we feel, but we can open to it, give it space, and let it teach us about itself as it moves through.

I saw the quote from the Dalai Lama on the cover of a Buddhist magazine I picked up to read while I was waiting for my appointment with my newly-found medical pedicurist.  I stubbed my toe very badly last year on an unmarked and unpainted curb in the parking structure of my hotel in Cleveland while working on "The Avengers."  And, ever since then, my toe has continued to give me problems.  I've stayed away from shoes and worn flip flops almost exclusively since then.  But, winter is coming and shoes will be unavoidable, and I'm taking dance classes where there is more than normal pressure on my toes and shoes are necessary, so I've been forced out of denial and into solution.  After mentioning my toe pain to a friend after dance class she immediately gave me the phone number of the perfect person to help me heal the condition...the medical pedicurist, the fabulous Maria Rathner here in Albuquerque.  And, it was in Maria's waiting area that I saw the Buddhist magazine with the quote from the Dalai Lama on the cover.

So, I am now grateful for the stubbed toe, grateful for the pain that made me mention my toe to my friend, grateful for my friend's recommendation to Maria, and grateful that I finally came out of denial and took action to heal my toe and made an appointment with Maria.  Due to all of these things, I found the Dalai Lama quote.  Such gold is a special find.  The truth is usually simple.  If something starts to get too complicated, it's most likely indicative that distortion has crept into the mix.  And, the Dalai Lama's quote is simple and beautifully said.  When I read it, I gasped in recognition.  Yes!

I started to read a bit of the article that went with the quote--and, I'm sorry to not have written down the name of the magazine and the name of the author of the article!--but, since Maria was quick getting to me, I only managed a snippet.  But, in that snippet, the author talked about the fact that in Buddhism, the practitioner seeks enlightenment not only for themselves but for the whole of creation.  It's such an acknowledgement of Oneness and the fact that we're all connected.  We don't do anything in a bubble of separation, everything we do affects the whole.  In fact, the word "Bodhisattva" is used in regard to someone who delays their own enlightenment out of compassion for those still struggling.  Buddhism is about the team, the sanga.  But, if I'm not mistaken, a Bodhisattva is also someone who's attained enlightenment, but has chosen to come back to help others reach it, too.  Either way, a noble act and a deep understanding that we are all One.

So, the next time you find yourself suffering in some way, it might be helpful to notice where the resistance is and then open up to it.  Once we open to the resistance and let it tell us what it's about, we're much more likely to be able to let it move through and come into truth and acceptance.  And, once we come into truth and acceptance, the suffering will stop.  Clarity is a wonderful thing.  When we reach it, it's the most blissful release.

And, since I love the quote from the Dalai Lama that I started this post with so much, I'm going to end with it, too.  "The suffering and happiness each of us experiences is a reflection of the distortion or clarity with which we view ourselves and the world."  Brilliant.


1 comment:

  1. Nice quote of Dalai Lama with an beautiful story. Thanks for sharing this quotes with us.