The Cause of Our Suffering

The message seems clear as to the cause of our suffering: Us

It was when I first listened to Thich Nhat Hanh share with Oprah on her Super Soul Sunday series that a deep shift in my consciousness really began to take hold. Our ‘suffering’ is in direct response to what we think, believe and feel from within. And then within my own life it became abundantly clear. The last year of transformation in my relationship to our son–the pain and heartache I’ve felt have not come from him and what he has or hasn’t done–it’s in proportion to my own inner dialogue, my own grief of him growing up, becoming independent of me and making choices of his own that I wouldn’t ever make on his behalf. 

This has been such a year of deepening what I have felt and shared as truth. I find it now seeping into and out of this new space within myself. Realizing that how much or little I feel pain, grief, anxiety is truly emanating from the space within myself. The beliefs we take on as our own–be it through the nature of who we are or the social environment and programming we all undergo in some way–form the way in which we view our world. As a mother, if I am seeing through eyes of always wanting to comfort, love and nurture my children (as though they are young children rather than grown adults) on the one hand, and feeling I need to adhere to certain standards of being a parent on the other, either of these can lead to inner pain. The key to release is shifting perspective and looking through a fresh lens. I can love my nearly adult children. I must grow and mature as they are. And together, my husband and I can determine what OUR style of parenting is, setting aside what we feel is expected of us from society or our various tribal members. 

Yesterday, as we shared together in my extended family, yet another wave of this truth set in: it’s not what others do to us that causes us pain, it’s what we choose to believe about ourselves as a result. When something occurs in our lives–on either end of the emotional spectrum of happiness/sadness–there is a response we feel in that moment. Yes, there can be pain in THAT moment. But the lingering effects are born of what we take on and believe as true. We weave a new ‘truth’ into our belief system. In this case, a family member experienced abuse at the hands of his mother for telling the truth, and so decided that the most important thing is to look/be good rather than just be himself and be honest with his own inner truth. His truth took on the shape of whomever he might be with, in an effort to be pleasing to them. 

The pain experienced for him all these years is so much more about this belief system. The abuse he experienced from his mother is long gone, but the emotional, spiritual and psychological impact lingers on….until we are able to recognize it and transform it through our soul’s truth. The soul does not lie, my friends. And the soul is not in pain. She is beauty, sacredness, all things filled with love. She is the miracle of our very existence. When we are disconnected from her sacred truth, we experience pain and inner turmoil. 

How to heal the suffering? Evaluate a place in your life where you feel it. Go into that space and allow the emotions to speak to you. Listen to what they share. Ask what you have taken on as a result of your experience, and then examine its purity. We must then consider if the belief we’ve created within ourselves is one we wish to continue living and playing out. 

In THIS moment, the pain of an experience years ago exists only in what we carry within. That moment has passed. The event is over. Perhaps it’s time to let it go and form a new belief system. We are all pure in spirit. There is no need to ‘be good,’ to do the right thing and to try to keep those around us happy. Inevitably this results in stress, suffering, turmoil. We are already ‘good,’ loved ones. The struggle to be so is what creates the holes in our spirits. Time for healing, letting go, connecting to the purity of who we truly are: Divine beings. 

Sharing this meditation from Thich Nhat Hanh: ‘Humans are born as flowers.’ ~ xo