SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you relate to choosing suffering over safety? Can you share a personal experience of a time when you became aware of this choice? What practice helps you see the joy within your experience of suffering?
What to choose; to be in our experience, or out of it. It is tempting to run and hide, to seek a safe haven that avoids the pain, the sorrow, the fear, the loss. How will we survive? I don't know. I just know that living is being in the moment; whether joyous or dreadful. So easy to say, so hard to do. I will continue to struggle.........
The more I ponder this, the more confused I get. If Gratitude and Suffering cannot coexist, does that mean when we choose Suffering over Safety we are not choosing Gratitude? Then I think, are Suffering and Safety mutually exclusive? Maybe choosing Safety IS choosing Suffering on some level. Think of the person in a job that he hates and isn't aligned with...yet the pay is good and the job is "safe", so he can help provide for his family. So, he stays at the job, choosing Safety. Yet, he is Suffering the whole time.
A parent continues to share and teach throughout his courageous journey with a terminal illness. Words of wisdom from friends, be a daughter first, not the healthcare professional or caretaker, be blessed to have a long
good bye vs an unexpected death. True suffering, observing the pain of a loved one through their eyes. The slow deterioration of a strong-willed, independent, life-loving man. How I wonder can the body be so ravaged and with the will to live so strong. I suffered alongside my dad. I pray for for peace, I pray for gods will and the prayer I thought never possible. Please Dad be at peace so we will meet again. I chose to remember by dad teaching me how to dance. His words 'be brave' for me now. Four months now, I pray for courage and to be brave without my dad at my side.
For me, suffering "well" is something of a cumulative experience. When you are faced for the first time with a place of deep suffering, it provokes for most of us panic and fear; it is not possible for most of us to be fully present for it. When you have moved through it and discover that you can survive it, then over time when you are faced again with suffering, it becomes possible to be present and aware of its nuances and textures, like a not unfamiliar companion. Over time, you accumulate an experiential understanding that suffering takes different forms and that also it will pass, so that the companion of suffering becomes more interesting in its own subtle ways, and who you are through it becomes a source of stillness and self-awareness that you could not otherwise ever know. For each place of suffering we may face in a lifetime, there are so many different nuances and textures with many gifts, including often those we do not perceive until much later. But facing it, holding through it, seeing it to its end, can be very, very hard.[Hide Full Comment]
At present, I relate very deeply to this choice. A practice that helps me see the joy within the suffering is coming to this page and joining this circle, bringing only the sincere intention to be open to the wisdom within the reading and within the personal reflections of those who share here. I thank each and every one of you. Namaste.
I am learning to accept what is and not to resist or to deny the presence of what is. The first suffering I experienced was the passing away of my dad. I did not want him to leave me. What helped me to accept his passing away was the way he embraced his breath leaving his body. He used to recite the verses from the Bhagvat Geeta shedding light on how to live with equanimity, how to remain centered and balanced in the midst of the rising and falling waves of life. He lived that way and died that way. He used to teach me how to live by the way he lived his life. He was walking his walk.He planted the seeds of the art of living and leaving.Breathing in and breathing out are the wings of the bird of living fully.
Three years ago, my beloved wife passed away. She had very aggressive breast cancer. Six months before she passed away, she asked me looking into my eyes, "Jagdish! Do you think I will survive? I trust you. You will tell me the truth." This was the most difficult question for me to answer. I was holding her hand in my hand and this answer emerged from my heart: " Everyone is going to pass away sooner or later." That answer was enough for her. Without any hesitation, she accepted the truth. There was a glow of acceptance on her face. And that's the way she lived her life.She was ready to go when the time would arrive. Before she passed away, she asked all of us- me, our grown up children and grand children- to face her face. She touched everybody's hand, looked at all of us and said, " Is everyone OK?" She lived that way caring for all and left the same way showing her caring for all. These were her last words and these words deeply resonate with me when she comes to my mind and heart. Like my dad, my wife taught me a lesson of how to live and how to die.
Suffering is an integral part of living fully. The evening is born in the womb of the morning sun. There is no morning without evening and there is no evening without morning.The river of life flows in between the banks of joy and suffering. They are intertwined. They are the wings of the bird, the tide and ebb of living.
May we cultivate this art of living and dying to live fully and die fully.
Jagdish P Dave
Suffering equals being 100% present to whatever the situation is, both for self and if there is another involved, for them as well. I chose suffering when I helped my mother heal after she broke her kneecap 2 years ago. She is a very anxious person and extremely afraid of nearly everything. I allowed myself to be with her 24/7 as her caretaker and helped guide her through her own pain; physical, mental, emotional. I sat with her, read to her, and did my best to meet all her needs while letting go of many of my own; choosing to be present rather than in safety. At the same time, I also chose to keep a commitment to a once in a lifetime performance trip to Kenya for a storytelling festival for which I had auditioned 1.5 years earlier. It was 2 months after her injury, she was doing well with physical therapy and seeing a therapist. I made arrangements with her sisters (who both lived 10 minutes away) and with the neighbor right next door to check on her daily. I went and performed, emailed daily and learned my Mom was doing very well with her healing. It was an interesting space to be in; to both have been so present in the early stages of recovery and then to allow myself to let go and for her to grow into further healing. It helped both of us. I suppose that was the joy in it; seeing the progression and also being in the depths of the pain/healing.[Hide Full Comment]
I believe suffering is an inevitable part of being alive,being human ,being vulnerable...I suffered for 25 years in an emotional vaccum in my marital relationship..absolute no connectedness with my husband,emotional or physical.But i had the safety of a warm home and loving children.It kept me safe but i was still suffering my cowardice,my inability to live as per my wish.I gave it up in feb this year..after complete 25 years..left my family to live alone.I still suffer because i miss my kids who are adults now...i'm called selfish by many people.They are right in a way because now even my kids are suffering...But i know they will outgrow this pain soon and grow up to be mature people.As for me,i 've decided to live alone till love finds me.
Leonard Kaboggoza- I think suffering is to collide with a an expected, unpleasant experience in life which come on my way because of the choice I have made. Whatever choice I make, am accountable / culpable of the end results. I take suffering as not suffering by accepting to make a choice, and live a life that I understand as a human person. As human beings, we learn by teaching, it is that experience we go through that transforms us and find joy within the experience of suffering. When I make good choice I find joy, When I make a bad choice in favour of safety, I end up suffering the more. I have been a victim of this life situation. Life is not a straight line cannot do away with suffering. Through suffering we are able to reflect back, evalaute ourselves, and make new strategies for attaining eternal joy.
Suffering is suffering, i don't know why must we avoid, it is part of life, instead of denying the suffering being with suffering will get us out of it. we are probably too attached to people, family, friends, pets... out of our circle of known people do we really suffer as much for the unknown people...??? I don't know if Suffering is bad as everyone goes through it but i suppose learning & understanding suffering in the true sense could dissolve the pain...
Suffering means to me to bear or carry my experience. My experience is my truth. To accept, value, express, utilize what I am experiencing is for me to suffer it. I can carry my experience efficiently, in a way that doesn't create unnecessary pain, or I can carry my experience inefficiently , which creates unnecessary pain. Pain is unavoidable -- it's part of life -- how I suffer it is up to me. I have chosen to suffer my experience over safety when the cause is important enough to me and the danger looks acceptable. I have chosen safety over suffering my experience when the danger looks too great. Suffering my experience is integrity, and my integrity definitely has cracks and limits. I think of Jesus as someone who suffered his experience over safety, and the price he paid the was execution. I've been no martyr. I've been aware of the choice between suffering my experience or safety. Sometimes I have suffered my experience in the form of saying or doing what felt dangerous, choosing suffering my experience over safety, but the danger was not extreme. Usually I've ended up taking less heat than I expected. I do feel joy when I have the courage to suffer my experience, and have shame when I don't suffer my experience and deny it. As C.S. Lewis said, "The boy chooses safety, the man chooses suffering." Sometimes I'm a boy. The more I suffer my experience the easier it becomes.[Hide Full Comment]