It is late this night, a long day has passed, each moment different than the next, each leaving a little less in the tank. It seems as if my mind is on empty, the thoughts of the day wearing it paper thin, and I am left to sit in a chair staring at the lightning as it reigns havoc over the evening sky.
My youngest daughter has left me to get her bath, her mom carrying out what should be the day’s final debate with my ever knowing child. The lightning grows worse, closer, the sound of the thunder draws near. It does not appear long before we are in the midst of the storm, which most likely will end my nights excursion into the free flow of words from heart to keyboard.
Yet this storm reminds me of something, as often nature does, of what causes action and purpose may be. I think of suffering, that ever present Teacher, and how nature can teach us all things. In man’s decision to be separate of nature, he can’t help but to forget that which nature will teach. We attempt with all of our might to end suffering, treating it as some parasite on our Being, and look for ways outside ourselves to end it. We buy things, stuff ourselves full of food, become glued to the television, seek for removal of reality by means of drugs, all the while never postponing suffering. In fact, most of the time our escapes magnify the effects of the lesson.
Suffering has become my friend. I learn from it, never trying to hide it, embrace it when it visits, and treat it with the respect it deserves. I never try to dampen its arrival, but rather I open my arms to it. I simply just wait to see what the lesson will be.
It is in the cause of suffering that we will learn, and in that learning we become closer to that which ceases all suffering. In the face of physical pain, there are times when we simply have no choice but to dampen its effects, but we should certainly make every effort to embrace the pain and to allow it to lengthen our thresholds. Make all efforts to not complain about this pain, not to embrace it as part of you, but rather observe it as a dispassionate bystander who is watching someone else having this experience.
In the cause of mental or emotional pain, understand what it is that is causing this pain. In a relationship breakup, is it the other person who is making you feel this pain, or is it the identification with the relationship that you have lost that is bringing on the anguish? In the case where your partner has inflicted some pain on you, do you identify so much with the loss that you must relive it over and over again? Is that loss really the cause of the pain or is the pain the cause of the loss? Find the source of such pain, the real source, and find a key to happiness. Do not identify with the pain, do not relish in it, do not look for it, and do not let it own you. Simply understand its source and let it be, and like a snake ready to strike shy away from it less it become a part of you in the most uncomfortable way possible. Remember, if you do not own the object, you cannot own its loss, and therefore you cannot experience any pain at the loss of it.
Another bolt cascades from the darkened sky. Nature is ridding itself of something, embracing the destructive force of lightening in order to do so. Suffering is like these bolts, the clap of thunder, the thrash of heavy winds, the beating of such a torrential downpour. Yet at the end of this moment of suffering in nature the air is cleaned, the ground thirst quenched, the weakest branches purged. Suffering off all beings results in such a cleaning and nourishing, one must embrace it as such to benefit from it. The tree does not hide from the wind, the ground from the rain, the air from the lightning, it embraces it as part of the moment, as the cleansing it is.
There are times when I seek the end of suffering or look to diminish its effects, but those times are lessening, becoming less frequent. I look forward to the moment when I can embrace those times with the same joy that I embrace the sunrise. One must realize that for every downhill race there is an uphill climb, that there is a base for every summit reached. One we can accept the suffering and learn from it, we will truly achieve the happiness that such suffering was meant to foster.