Suffering is inevitable in life, and it’s not really a “bad thing”. It’s just a thing. It is, however, useful to be clear that suffering is chosen and is not our default state (freedom and love).
We have it backwards
- Maybe it’s human nature but in modern society we kind of have it backwards. We spend most our time working, striving, achieving, with rare moments of ‘free time’ that are seen as a luxury. We spend most of our time suffering with occasional moments of freedom and love.
Work is suffering
- I’m not just talking about suffering as conventionally understood, like schlep work that you really don’t want to do. Even when you are working toward something aligned with your deepest purpose, when you feel good about what you are doing, a kind of suffering arises. It can be from craving more, desiring a goal, wanting to be better in some way. Any dissatisfaction with the present moment exactly as it is gives rise to suffering.
- And it takes a dissatisfaction with the way things are in order to do or create anything. If we weren’t dissatisfied, weren’t craving anything, weren’t suffering, then we wouldn’t need to DO anything. Suffering is an inextricable part of the game of life.
Flip it around
- Instead of treating this suffering as the default state, however, it’s important to understand that it is a chosen state. I think we forget this because we suffer so much and so often.
- Living free, satisfied and full is actually our default. From this spacious place we can then choose to engage in periods of work and action, voluntarily engaging in the suffering, voluntarily tussling with the world. But we must do so consciously and for a specific purpose before returning to freedom and love once again.
- Be careful not to miss the whole point. Don’t take your last breath wishing you had enjoyed the whole symphony instead of rushing towards the final crash of the symbol.