Suffering has many faces. Suffering can be defined as living with resentment, fear, anger, physical pain, jealousy, heartbreak, grief, worry, disappointment and so on. Suffering can be small and suffering can be unbearable.
We all suffer.
A bee sting is a good example of suffering as I am trying to describe here. There’s the bee sting’s pain itself, then there’s anger at the bee, or yourself for trying to become one with the bee. One cannot become one with the bee. How can we ease the burden of suffering on ourselves? One of the things I try to practice is being aware of the type of suffering as it happens. Awareness of some of my burdens that could be imagined, such as the fear of the unknown…you know, the “all in your head stuff’ we go through. Though it is hard sometimes to stop clinging to negative things, I try to remind myself that I can’t deal with the uncertain future until it arrives in the present. I can prepare for certain things that could happen in the future like a birthday party, or an appointment, but not the uncertain things. Uncertain suffering as I call it, can come as fear of losing a job, worry about a loved one away on their own, or fear of flying because the plane might crash…phobias too. The suffering I feel is allowing these uncertain fears about “suffering to come” to overpower my feelings and thoughts, thus creating more suffering in the present moment.
Example: The day after the bee sting, the “monkey mind” could say. “The soreness of my healing bee sting reminds me to not slap a bee if he lands on me. Why do I always do that? What is wrong with me?” The only real cause of the suffering is the physical pain, everything else is added suffering triggered by the pain…this can be avoided by practicing meditation and mindfulness for one. Let’s take a look at how we can reduce the amount of suffering we put upon ourselves. I practice Zazen meditation myself.
Suffering happens only in the present moment. Everything happens in the present moment.
A painful event of our past is just that, and the memories of it can cause suffering in the present moment. Then there’s the ever-popular resentment of past suffering of others which also brings suffering to the present. Additionally, fear of a painful event in the future, such as a court date, or an appointment for surgery can bring suffering in the present moment as well.
Try not to cling to past suffering; try not to cling to the possibility suffering. This can cause suffering in the present moment.
Suffering over illusions of what can only be assumed is another struggle. Wondering, and assuming ill actions of others can cause much suffering. Fear of being plotted against, gossiped about, lied to and fear of what may be happening in the shadows of your life are illusions that brings suffering into the present. The only thing happening in your life is the present moment in the here and the now. We have no control over most of what is going on outside the vast universe we call “self.”
Try not to suffer thinking of the unknown, or things that are not a proven fact. This can cause suffering in the present moment. Trying to control what we cannot, can also bring suffering to the present moment.
There’s no “cure for suffering” but, I have found that being mindful of suffering and what causes it can reduce the amount of un-necessary suffering. I meditate in the present moment which also reduces any suffering I’m trying to bring in. It’s not easy to break free from added, un-necessary suffering sometimes. Suffering is feeling the pain during the moment it is happening. Suffering is natural and we all feel it, we all get through it some way or another and we try not build upon it.
Take moments throughout your day and see if you are adding any un-necessary suffering to your present moment, and if so, just mentally smile it away as best you can and be mindful of what it is…or is not. Know that I have thought of you today and I hope I have found a way to help ease some of your suffering.
May you not suffer, may you be at peace.
Controlling Monkey Mind, Lecture by Suzuki Roshi: http://www.berkeleyzencenter.org/Lecture/oct2001.shtml
How to Tame Your Monkey Mind: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5507/How-to-Tame-Your-Monkey-Mind.html
Buddha: How to Tame Your Monkey Mind: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bj-gallagher/buddha-how-to-tame-your-m_b_945793.html