Pain seems to be a part of the human experience. Naturally, most of us prefer to feel loved, safe, and connected rather than sad, lonely, or afraid. But the latter feelings seem to be a part of life. In Buddhism, the First Noble Truth states that: “Pain in life is inevitable but suffering is not. Pain is what the world does to you, suffering is what you do to yourself. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” Suffering is optional because it is the result of how we deal with or process the experience of pain. Pain and pleasure are in the body. Suffering is in the mind. One root cause of suffering is resisting pain and attaching to pleasure. Another is clinging to the idea that things in the external world need to look or be a certain way.

Pain is an internal navigational system, informing us that something needs our attention. If we resist or ignore the sounding of pain’s guidance, we prolong it and create unnecessary suffering. In fact, when we resist anything that is happening in our internal or external experience, we create unnecessary suffering. When we refuse to let go of what no longer serves a purpose in our lives, clinging to what once was, we also create unnecessary suffering.

Suffering ceases when we bring ourselves into full alignment with what is, trusting the unfolding of life moment to moment. Suffering ceases when we stop resisting inevitable outer change. For, no matter what happens, we possess the creative power within us to pick ourselves up and continue in the direction of our heart’s desires. Suffering ceases when we are willing to fully accept the whole gamut of our emotions, without judgment. For when we allow ourselves to fully feel what we feel, we understand that emotions exist as a wave of energy moving through us, and are temporary. Suffering ceases when we are willing to release what no longer serves us, even though it previously had purpose in our lives, knowing that life will bring us what we need, when we need it.

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