The Problem of Suffering – May 14 2018

You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.
Pema Chödrön
 
One way to approach the “problem” of happiness, and why we may not have it, is perhaps to see what we have that is opposed to happiness. This would be the experience of suffering. 
 
Suffering is not to be confused with pain. Pain occurs. Pain is the body’s way of communicating that something is amiss. When I step on a piece of glass, a nerve message is sent to my brain to indicate that I have injured myself and that care must be taken. This is what some call necessary pain, or unavoidable pain. And of course the same holds true with emotional pain. Death of loved ones, broken relationships, career disappointments–there are things in life that simply hurt, no matter how far along the path we have come.
 
Suffering, however, is what we experience when we think about the pains we have experienced, when we tell ourselves why we have the pains we are experiencing, try to think our way out of future, imagined pains, or blame ourselves or others for the pains we are experiencing in the moment. Any sort of speculation about pain, or truly, the act of speculation itself, will lead to suffering. Always and only.
 
Speculation leads to suffering. And all suffering involves speculation. Dr. Nitin Trasi, in The Science of Enlightenment, calls speculation “Unnecessary Thoughts,” as distinct from “Necessary Thoughts,” which are involved in performing one’s job or paying one’s bills. 
 
And why do we have these unnecessary thoughts? What is their cause? It is our belief in the separateness of our self from others, from the world. Our belief in duality. Our sole identity with “ego,” if you will. When we believe the world or others in it can harm us, can give to or take from our fulfillment, can cause us grief or happiness by their opinions of us–this is what leads to speculation, to unnecessary thoughts.
 
So we may assume, then, that the direction away from suffering would be the direction away from speculation, which in turn would be the direction away from ego. 
 
The direction, therefore, of Oneness. Knowing that everyone I meet, everyone I see, each and every person in my world is at one with me, and with the Whole. And that I may choose, now, in this moment, to move in the direction of this oneness. I may choose now to love.
 
Today I will look at one of my fellows and imagine, at least for a moment, what it might feel like if we shared the same consciousness, the same mind. If we shared the same heart. And I will look into his eyes without fear, and I will send him love.
Marble, M Street Wash, Studio City, CA
All original material copyright © 2018 Jeff Kober