Thursday, April 2, 2009

Suffering is Optional (watch this 10min video!)

One of my Facebook friends sent out this status update today:

Nithya Shanti spent the day contemplating these three words:
Suffering is Optional.

I was so moved by this, because it is so simply stated.
It is what I've been studying for ~18 months.

As a former Great Suffering One, I have gone on this quest
to discover if there exists a cure for suffering.
The answer is YES!

It was discovered at least 2,500 years ago.
And it is so simple!

This is the central message of the Buddha Dharma,
as summarized by the Fourth Noble Truth + the Eightfold Path.

A corollary to "suffering is optional" is:

Happiness is a choice we all can make at any time or place!

The causes and the cessation of suffering
is also a major topic of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

Meditation (calmness, insight, mindfulness, concentration)
is central to this in both Buddhism and Yoga.

This 10min video by Mark Williams is great!
It illustrates a key aspect of meditation
as it relates to how we cause our own suffering
(in the form of depression):

The idea of the destructive power of the Monkey Mind --
and the potential Creative Power of the mind as well,
reoccurs all over the place!

  • In the work of Louise Hay. who says the ever-chattering
    "Monkey Mind" is the cause of most disease.

    We can simply tell ourselves a different story
    and become healthy and happy!
    She has millions of readers who say: this works!!

  • In the Toltec / Nagual teachings of don Miguel Ruiz,
    who calls "The Voice of Knowledge": the Liar.

  • Robert Anton Wilson discussed the science behind this
    (meta linguistics and general semantics),
    as well as our delusional "reality tunnels" in which we live,

  • Nonviolent Communications (NVC, Rosenberg's system),
    which says our suffering is largely caused by evaluations
    or judgements which occur during observation,
    i.e., we think we are seeing something which isn't really there!

  • Ho'oponopono: the healing/conflict resolution system from the Polynesian people,
    which works, not by fixing THEM, but by fixing the self.

  • Gandhi's system of liberation: "Be the change you want to see in the world"

  • The Abraham/Hicks material (Law of Attraction / The Secret, etc)
    which demonstrates the marvelous creative aspects of the mind.

  • The Vipassana technique(*), which trains us to see reality AS IT IS.

    (* Siddhartha Gotama's technique described in the Sattipattana Sutta,
    and as taught by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, SN Goenka, Joseph Goldstein,
    Sharon Salzberg, Noah Levine, Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabot-Zin, Gil Fronsdal,
    Thanissaro Bhikkhu... and many others)

  • In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, e.g., II.35, where calming the mind is said to
    affect not just the self, but everyone in the vicinity!

These great teachings I have discovered(*)
say that while some pain and discomfort in life is inevitable,
suffering (or misery) is optional.
This is shown by my own experience to be true.
(* as stated so clearly in the Buddha Dharma)

Shinzen Young says: Suffering = Pain x Resistance.

Suffering is caused by desperately clinging to things which make us feel good,
and madly pushing away the things which cause us pain.

But the path to liberation and happiness is known!
An Enlightened person living 2,500 years ago discovered the truth:
that we can learn to train our minds (in meditation) to remain
somewhat detached, calm, indifferent to these things, which
frees us from the bondage of suffering!

Suffering can also be said to be caused by ignorance
of the true nature of reality,
such as the illusion of ego and separateness.

These are really saying the same thing,
as a deep study of the subject will reveal
that suffering (the clinging and aversion of attachment)
is inexorably interconnected
with the (incorrect) perception of ego/separateness.

The loss of a child, parent, loved one, can be the worst pain.
How can we understand this?

Basically from the Buddhist perspective (as I understand it), it's like this:

There is so much suffering in this place. Birth is suffering. Death is suffering.
Old age and sickness. So much suffering. And while we can achieve short-term
gratification through the sense organs, no thing will bring lasting satisfaction.
Along with ego/separateness, the Buddhists call these
The Three Marks of Existence.

Now once we meditate on this, for a nice long time...
then one day, we finally completely get it!
There is such a release, and an experience of joy and freedom
which hasn't been experienced before!

Then: POP!
We transcend to a new level of existence
where we can see that this whole thing is a dance or a theater-drama.
There is no death. All is God dancing with herself.
It's all Brahman. Every bit of it: All action, all feeling, all substance.

The basic concepts of this are so simple to learn,
but require a lifetime of practice.
The result is freedom and happiness! :)
May you be motivated to explore these subjects further,
and to Practice!

Practice is defined by the Four Yogas:
  • Raja yoga: Meditation (contemplation, concentration, insight, cultivating calm detachment)
  • Karma yoga: Service to others,
  • Jhana yoga: Study
  • Bhakti yoga: Love (devotion, gratitude, forgiveness, repentance, compassion)
Bill Huston
Binghamton NY
Phone: 607-321-7846

Email: WilliamAHuston at gmail

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