Meaning in Suffering
With suffering comes change.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” Rilke
My friend Tom Baeli, a Tai Chi master and I recently discussed whether there is meaning in suffering. We exchanged ideas about the words of the ancient Chinese Master, Mencius: "When great responsibility is about to befall one, life appears to confound all undertakings. Thereby it stimulates the mind, toughens the nature and improves all deficiencies."
Limitations are nature's breeding ground to develop its strengths.
Unlike a deity, whimsically deciding to test our endurance, Taoism teaches one to follow the evolutionary thrust of life that is simply seeking the best of what it might become. Appreciating nature's tremendous power to renew itself, we discover that this same power is within and transforming us. Suffering is the distance we travel from this power. In exploring 'what is' we are cured by 'what is not.'
Life only meets us halfway. The other half of the journey allows us to discover what we are capable of.
He offered the following quotes: "Those who have suffered know much which is denied to the continuously healthy: and those who have been exalted - have realized truths which are out of the reach of those who lead quiet, equable lives." Finding peace by hiding is an illusion. Nature is relentless in its movement toward regeneration. Nature does not play favorites; it does not lie and nothing can hide from it. When the season of change is upon us - it is better to release ourselves into the great river and discover the meaning in 'what is.'
"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." It reminds me of Kahlil Gibran's poem about Love:
"But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears."
With suffering comes real fulfillment.
A forest fire burns away old growth to prepare for the new. The same pollution that causes ocean temperatures to rise is often washed away in the very hurricanes that are generated from warming ocean temperatures. One thing cannot be separated from another. It may be your desire to hold to the outworn that is at the root of your suffering. Trust that all is unfolding exactly as it should.
One country blames another for the woes they face. Yet, volatility is the reverberation of injustices that can no longer be hidden away. Suffering brings forward the truth and a new perspective.
Black Elk would say:
"You have noticed that truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing or weeping. When people are already in despair, maybe the laughing is better for them; and when they feel too good and are too sure of being safe, maybe the weeping face is better."
Laughter, tears, the pursuit of change always breaks our defenses to remind us that we are natural creatures in a natural world. It is our feelings that connect us to the beauty of life.
To believe that we can withstand the forces of change is what leads to our suffering. It is better to follow where the changes may lead us. Those who defend freedom the most vigorously are often unwittingly restricting the liberties of others. Because we cannot understand the profound dynamics leading life to evolve and it's inter-connectivity, it is better to emulate nature's ways during Autumn, and turn back to be renewed. In time Spring will come and we will blossom.
It does seem that the closer we are too success, the more we feel the weight of what is honing our strength. "When great responsibility is about to befall one, life appears to confound all undertakings. Thereby it stimulates the mind, toughens the nature and improves all deficiencies." Making peace with the changes and learning to follow the special nuances of our journey, we awaken into a world that always meets us half way.
It sometimes takes walking through the darkness to discover one's inner light. Trust that the way is unfolding to lead you to yourself.
Once I had a vision. I had the sense that the universe was speaking to me, so happy to have delivered my dream. "Everything around you ~ all that you see, are bits and pieces of all that you have asked for over time." I was puzzled at first because I had a different idea of success. I had the sense that to be ungrateful only confused the flow of events. It is our gratitude that allows us to acknowledge these bits and pieces as gifts. To awaken in the moment and to be grateful, affirms the flow of abundance. Sometimes it seems that suffering follows a period of ungratefulness. Like the seed that must be broken open to grow, we are released from our 'hard-headedness' and returned to the moment.
Suffering isn't about punishment. Suffering is how the rains come to renew the soil of our inner garden. No matter the path, open to the way life is coaxing you toward bliss.