Buddha didn’t teach us how to be enlightened.
Buddha taught us how to deal with human suffering.
Yes, at one point or another all of us encounter some form of suffering.
Why do we suffer?
What’s the difference between suffering outside our control and suffering that’s self inflicted?
We are human! Suffering is one of our greatest teachers. Much of our suffering comes from living in fear / wanting to control (self-inflicted). More suffering happens as we continue to resist what is.
This topic is broad. So, let's consider 2 questions:
1. Is this suffering I am experiencing self made?
2. Is this suffering I am experiencing part of life?
How will you know?
For question #1, self made suffering is a result of our thoughts and emotions and the inner narrative/story we replay over and over. Thoughts feeds emotion and emotion feeds thought and before we know it, this cycle of suffering becomes a way of life. This inner narrative, often a part of our dysfunctional mental conditioning over years, keeps us regretting the past and worried about the future.
The result? We remain stuck in the present, which is in direct opposition to "how life works" and quite frankly why we were born. Life only takes place in the present. Life itself requires us to keep moving. We can choose to move, or life will move us on its own terms.
Please note: I am not saying to discard the lessons of the past. Nor am I saying to leave the future open to some woo woo practice of intention setting without action.
What I am saying...is what I always say...take responsibility for your life. Your choices. Where you are. Where you want to go. And by all means, take small daily actions to move you along.
For question #2, part of life's inevitable suffering is the pain we feel from loss of a loved one, an illness, tragedy, etc.
If this writing resonates, perhaps you will listen to this week's Mind the Gap podcast episode on suffering. I speak about the different kinds of suffering and in particular the suffering that’s of our own creation- mental and emotional. Maybe you will also decide to keep a journal and spend a few minutes each day reflecting the 2 questions.
Living life is a practice and can be the most powerful portal for spiritual awakening, growth ...and freedom.
I am with you my friends.