There is a pretty famous quote from the Buddha which, although translated many times through out the ages, goes something like this:
“Life is suffering.”
When I first started dipping my toes into spirituality, particularly the new-age revival, suffering was something that was discussed very little, if at all.
Suffering? Bad feelings? Who wants to suffer when you can just…. choose to be happy.. all the time? Be totally positive! Make the bad feelings disappear. Send them somewhere else. After all, you’re totally in control of your own reality. You’re a powerful co-creator…
And, don’t get me wrong… you totally are, so watch your thoughts.
But… suffering is a super-duper important part of our self-evolution. In fact, it’s completely essential in deepening our understanding of our true self. Many people are unable to overcome their suffering. It burdens them, consumes them. It becomes their karma. Again and again, they walk the earth, bearing the weight of their struggles from one life to the next, repeating the same lessons over and over and over and over…
Until…. all at once… like a thousand slaps to the head in a thousand different timelines in an infinite number of realities… you suddenly realize…
Life is totally suffering!
When you see it, you’ll never unsee it.
Everyone is suffering, somehow, in some way. Whether it’s on an individual level, within a group, a community, or a collective, everyone is experiencing suffering on a fairly regular basis. Some people wear their suffering on their sleeve; other people are able to mask their suffering well… though usually reach an inevitable breaking point.
But, the reality is that everyone suffers, has suffered, and will suffer.
We cannot save each other from suffering. To prevent people from suffering is to prevent them from evolving and better understanding their potential, which serves them – and the collective – absolutely no purpose. We can offer love and support to others, helping when and where possible, but must otherwise leave them to overcome their own obstacles.
*Remember: We are all the heroes in our own stories. Others are capable of doing it themselves. All you need to do is encourage them, believe in them, and help them if possible ▬ not take on their suffering or burdens for them.
This is why it’s so important to be a good person. Not because other people necessarily “deserve” it or not, but simply because we’re all suffering. There’s not always an accurate way to gauge what someone is going through or dealing with. The best approach is to simply be kind, patient, and observant. People may not respect you, or pay you the same courtesy, but consider that you offered them a lesson in what they needed the most.
We’re all in this bitch together, for lack of better words, so be nice.
We should be looking out for one another, regardless of all these divisive identities and ideologies that we hold onto for self-validation.
And… y’know… when I say life is suffering, I’m not saying this out of resentment or bitterness. This is not an excuse to stop caring about everything and start burning down bridges, metaphorically or literally.
I’m saying this because, frankly, we’re all experiencing it. Like, it’s… obvious. Life sucks. Even when it’s going really good for some of us, there’s other people on the planet that are starving, dying from war, and still being denied basic, human rights, on a regular basis. That all… sucks.
And as a collective, every living thing on the planet feels some level of shared suffering.
Empathy is a very powerful, often misunderstood quality. It is so important to be able to connect with people on an emotional level, even when their situation is not totally relatable or understandable. It is within us, as humans, to cultivate this quality and learn to connect with others. It is so important, vital even, for not only the survival but also the progression of our society.
I’ve learned to suffer in many ways.
Suffering has made me stronger, more resilient, open, patient, and honest, not to mention… humble. Suffering has offered me valuable wisdom to share and carry with me into the future.
The suffering I have experienced has ultimately helped shape me, break me, and better understand who I am, beyond all illusions.
I am grateful for my suffering, even if… it sucked, still sucks, and will probably suck even more, at some point, in the future.
Perspective is important to take into consideration when reflecting on suffering. When you’re enduring a great suffering, it is sometimes impossible to imagine a better situation or brighter side. However, during periods of manageable or unnoticeable suffering, it’s far easier to be optimistic and enthusiastic. Notice the ebb and flows; notice the cycles. Remember that all “bad” times will pass, as will the “good” times. Everything is temporary. Everything passes.
The temporariness of life is part of the suffering… yet, somehow also makes life that much more beautiful and thrilling. The finite moments are what make life worth living for, even if they are inevitably numbered. Even through the ugliest of times, there is usually something to smile about, something to enjoy, something to be grateful for. Even through loss, illness, heartbreak, and disaster, those beautiful, fleeting moments and real love still exist.
Learn to suffer because regardless… life will go on, with or without you.
And, since we’re not here for a long time, well… we may as well have a damn good time while we’re alive and able.