Suffering

Posted on December 5, 2011

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The seasons – they change so quickly in Colorado – It’s as if the trees and grass have no knowledge of what’s about to come – the steep drop in temperature and then little-big death that causes sap to move slowly and the dog wood to turn deep burnished red. They must know – these trees – that winter is coming. They’ve lived her for decades in this climate and still each winter they cling to fall for as long as possible before dropping into a deep winter sleep.

Cyclically clinging.

I understand cycles – their continuity makes sense to me and is reassuring though admittedly unhealthy to remain in ad-infinitum. I am a bit caught in this loop as of late –visiting and revisiting the same series of life events – I move through them like asana practice – touching each one – turning it to look at all of its facets before setting it aside on a shelf in some small corner of my brain and moving on and on and on until I come full circle and start again.

Deeper this time.

My logical brain, control freak that she is,  sees that I have broken out of the spiral of everyday  life and crafted this devouring practice. This circle rubbing at the fraying pieces of my youth – but she can do nothing and it infuriates her.  Infuriates me. I’ve been actively making my past and present because it is safe to maintain this place, it is recognizable and it brings with it an emotion that I know. ( It sucks knowing my issues from a psychoanalytic place. Super serious. It’s like the ultimate failure to know why I do what I do and still do it).

Suffering.

Eckhart Tolle  tells us that we make our own suffering through interpretation. We craft our present experiences and as a person who can readily believe that we might create our own reality…I get this. Sugar coating this practice is his notion that, “Suffering is a wonderful teacher and is most people’s only spiritual teacher – suffering deepens you and makes the mind aware of ego”. I agree with this – though I would ask that he add that discovering that grey place between knowing and not knowing – the places where the ego bends – is a large part of this process.

To be in a place of suffering is all-consuming. Selflessness sheds like a second skin. Fuck the dying children in other countries – fuck war and eco-destruction – Fuck cancer and puppies and Santa. This pain is the ONLY pain until I realize one day that I have had enough of  suffering and this is the precipice – this is the most dangerous and beautiful time to be alive because this is the place where a person realizes that there’s a choice – stop falling into suffering or continue on and stop existing and die.

Most people choose to stop suffering.

There is this moment of rational knowledge that pushes through and in this knowingness there is  choice. The concept of “I”enters back into the equation – I  am standing at the precipice.  As an aside – It’s  kinda weird that suffering and the psyche while such a personal thing is also an other. When one is caught up in the throes of depression/suffering it is hard to lay claim to the irrational and emotional moments and so it transcends – there is a reason why it’s called ” loosing control”…

Anyway.

Here is the core of my personal shift:

A: It is human to know suffering and I cannot logic it away. It is as human as knowing happiness or any other amorphous emotion that we “know” exists but cannot quantify or qualify.

B: It is also human to reject such statements as truth without proof. In our human (and therefore falliable) state we believe that if we use logos- analytic prowess to pick apart the reason for being alive…it will help make sense of the ineffable nature of the world and the self. If will know every aspect of this life through reason and methodology then we can create a chalice in which to hold the meaning of our existence.

By we I mean I. I think that I can do this.

Analysis: At the center of such self analysis is fucking terror because nothing exists in the soul space that can be qualified and to take away everything to see anything… scary man. Terror like carries faith on its back.  Not the ”  Christ on a cracker” sort of faith. Faith in self as an aspect of the world. Faith in self as self because the truth of this world, at this moment is that we cannot know what exists beyond the self. The only thing left ( for me)  after deconstructing everything is to return to a faith in something. That something can be as simple as the belief that one exists. Pulling the ” I” from the darkness. It’s humbling and I posit that it takes an ego death to really explore and roll around in that kind of knowing of the self without fear…or at least to fuck the fear and do it anyway. For me there is always fear – my ego self is tenacious. I have been here many times and while I am no scholar of the self I have learned that until a lesson is pulled from the deep that is as solid as suffering we ( I) continue on –directionless.

So. Faith.

I can honestly say that I lack deep faith in any one overarching spiritual theme – but I do have faith in there being a deep well of strength housed within me. When I walk the knife’s edge of “being not being”  it is this faith that draws me back in.

Conclusion:

There is an inadvertent guilt that goes along with recovery because – despite having been “here” before- I will still fall without grace – headlong into the traps set by the ego – into the spaces where my perception has shifted from spiraling out to spiraling in and down to the deep. “If I had not suffered I would not be able to evolve and for many people, suffering is their main teacher”.- Tolle. I agree  Every time I cycle back and revisit my past and forget my present moment – I remember that there is a lesson to be found in the folds of my soul going fallow for a bit. The necessary experience of “I am” in the universe  is a thing that I learn in the suffering space …maybe I need to go there to grow.

Post Script and a Beautiful Woman.

I feel like if anyone watched the extended version of What the +@&%# Do You Know and imbibed a few glasses of wine it would make them wonder about existence and the self in different dimensions. Quantum physics tend to raise questions like: What do emotions matter if I am 90% space…and what does that in itself mean – the emptiness that lives in my cells – what is “I” really? Who am I really.

Do we actually exist ?

What is reality?

What is suffering if I am simply an intricate machine spun together in my mother’s womb from strands of DNA and air?  And maybe that is really it – belief that I am an intricate machine and sometimes the gears don’t mesh and being fallible is in itself exactly right because…whay does one strive for perfection in the first place? Perhaps – if one believes in predestination – they mesh perfectly and every lesson is a lesson that one must learn – especially the faith and suffering steeped lessons that require analysis and a backwards glance to uncover their seed of knowledge.

I’ll end here  because this is me beginning to unravel-to ask too many questions.

I’ll end with Mother Teresa – who noted that she felt a deep emptiness and rejection from God for many years until the ending of her life She called it her “dark night of the soul” that she could not find an inner experience of union and yet…. this longing caused her to burn more fully in her expression of personal faith. We are not graceful every night. And this is ok. This is beautiful in itself because as with suffering – grace brings with it amazing lessons…we just gotta find them.

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Posted in: Inspiration, Lessons