Some thoughts on suffering (part 3 of 3)

In the realms of spiritual authenticity, our worth is not calculated by our monetary Balancefortune, but rather by our actions and the quality of our emotional mind space at any given moment. We are responsible for our perceptions and attitudes i.e. our thoughts and feelings and, therefore, how we experience outer events. We are only partially in control of how those outer events play out. Life on the physical plane is impermanent and relatively random. To resist or deny that reality is madness. The sanest recourse is to accept life as an ever-changing playing field, to find the point of permanence in the inner self and then to live life with a sense of curiosity and playfulness. “A disciplined mind regards all changes as causal and temporary. The balanced does not fluctuate, and does not suffer.”[1] This tantric attitude takes courage and persistent effort, which is why I refer to it as the way of the warrior.

Eckhart Tolle offers further perspectives on how suffering is a vehicle through which a person can gain greater awareness of the human constitution beyond the personality (rational mind and emotions): “One of the ego’s many erroneous assumptions, one of its many deluded thoughts is ‘I should not have to suffer’. Sometimes the thought gets transferred to someone close to you: ‘My child should not have to suffer.’ That thought itself lies at the root of suffering. Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego.”[2]

Tolle suggests the way forwards involves saying “yes” to suffering in order to be able to transcend it.[3] Similarly, Albert Schweitzer sees “resignation”, or surrender, as the means through which a person can gain the necessary “inward freedom” and strength “to triumph over the difficulties of everyday life”[4].

Tolle and Schweitzer clearly point to the importance of mastering our inner world, if we want to live an empowered life, where spiritual success, or “inward freedom”, can be demonstrated through even small actions like sharing a beaming smile or empathic hug notwithstanding our own – or other people’s – suffering.

This perspective is similar to the Buddhist technique of divine indifference, which is not a refusal to suffer, but rather, like a hammer, divine indifference breaks down mental illusion and diffuses emotional reactions, bringing the personality fully into the present moment.

Edited extract from my book “She Who Is Unto Herself”

Photo c/o Devanath


[1] Bhattacharya, B. (1988) The World of Tantra. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd: New Delhi, p.80.

[2] Tolle, E. (2006) A New Earth. Plume: London & New York, p.102.

[3] Ibid, p.103.

[4] Schweitzer, A. (1998) Out of My Life and Thought. The John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore & London, p.233.

12 thoughts on “Some thoughts on suffering (part 3 of 3)

  1. Hey Sam…I really enjoyed reading this post and am trying to let the beautiful words sink in. I have some questions which I’d like to pose if you don’t mind? After reading up on Buddhist philosophies and attending a retreat, I was introduced to some of these concepts you describe, and I do accept that resistance to suffering probably does inflame it, and that life is about suffering and trying to transcend it. Suffering CANNOT be avoided. However as an adult if I had had an ok childhood, not a perfect one, but a reasonable one with minimal trauma, I think I’d probably find it pretty easy to embrace these concepts quite readily. But when your blueprint that life is about suffering was set and concreted in early on as you were groomed and abused by your parents from birth, so suffering is ALL you know, with very little let up, how can you transcend that level of suffering in a spiritual sense? I feel MUCH pain, and have done so for the 35 years of my life, battling against chronic mental health problems and complex-PTSD. I just wonder how I can deal with this suffering when I was not equipped during my childhood with the emotional tools necessary to regulate my feelings and my brain was so ruined by the trauma that I am wired differently to most? I am not trying to be confrontational, I’m just really interested and value hearing other perspectives 🙂 Thanks PS. Sorry for rambling lol 😉 B.E

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi sweetie, can I start by saying that I feel great compassion for your situation. I’m so delighted you’re looking into ways to transmute the very deep pain you feel. Of course, extreme life circumstances always present a difficult nut to crack for most spiritual philosophies. As you say, when people are facing “average” life trials and tribulations “it is pretty easy to embrace these concepts quite readily”. However, when there is trauma/abuse, etc. the bar is raised much higher.

      Having read your blog, I know you’re already helping other people who are facing similarly traumatic conditions/memories. This coupled with your dedicated search for a way out of your tunnel is an indication to me that you’ve already made the first steps on your healing journey.

      Please know that healing following severe childhood abuse – although very challenging – is possible. Deborah’s blog is an example of that:

      There are various paths you could follow. I will make some suggestions and comments that you may or may not resonate with. What’s important is that you feel inspired enough to follow through with a course of action. If my words don’t resonate with you. Then keep searching until you find the way forwards that’s right for you.

      I would start by saying that the path to healing requires dedicated inner work. There’s no getting away from that. Healing of deep psychological wounds will not come about through counseling or pharmaceuticals (anti-depressants, etc.). The problem with counseling is that words alone (your thoughts) will normally just reinforce your emotions. So if you are emotionally traumatized, your thoughts will simply reflect that, or you might be encouraged to “think positively” but that won’t bring results because you’re vibrating to a different tune (your emotions are not in resonance).

      It’s interesting you should use the analogy of brain wiring since that is one of the avenues I’d like to propose to you. An outstanding modern day teacher is Dr Joe Dispenza, who healed himself of a crippling back injury by changing his thoughts and emotions, which changed his attitude, which changed his life experience. His work is based on neuroscience.

      Dispenza explains that our normal everyday mode of interaction involves beta brain waves, which are very susceptible to triggering stress hormones. In beta, no deep healing takes place. We only heal emotionally (and physically) in states of alpha or theta, when we are in touch with our subconscious mind and when we can connect with what Dispenza calls the Quantum Field, what Tantra would call Shakti and what others would call universal energy, which transcends our human consciousness as well as being innate within it. It is at the alpha or theta levels that we can “reprogramme” our human software and hardware so that we can transmute the pain of our past into the wisdom of our present. We can enter alpha or theta through meditation.

      I would really recommend you look Joe Dispenza up on YouTube.

      You might also like to read the post entitled “Redeeming the Time” on the Advanced Research Technology blog:

      So, I would say, inner work in the form of meditation, visualisations, etc. are an indispensable part of any emotional healing. In addition, having some energy work done would also likely be a good way forwards. Here I am thinking of, for example, kinesiology or vibrational remedies like Bach Flower Remedies, or even better the Phytobiophysics remedies of Diana Mossop. I believe these things help a person heal at a cellular level, where the trauma is imprinted. Also, of benefit, is EFT tapping, which you can do on your own once you have been shown how – many kinesiologists are familiar with this method.

      These are just some initial thoughts. What I want to emphasise is that the aim is not to suppress your past, ignore it or deny it. Rather the idea is to find ways to stop your past creating your present circumstances. You have the right and the power to have a more inspired future.

      I hope my words can help you in some way. With love & hugs, Sam 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

      • Sam that answer is amazing and I really welcome your suggestions and you taking the time to write me such a comprehensive reply. I will give these ideas some thought. I never knew about the thing with alpha and theta waves-that’s a whole new avenue for thought with me. I have tried EFT with my reiki practictioner and do use it during flashbacks when I remember to! I will look up those things on YouTube for sure and I love all of ART’s posts although I’m a relatively new follower of his.THANKS SO MUCH for all this advice. It’s really appreciated. Love and hugs back to you Sam Xx 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hiya Brad, thanks for the comment. Hope all’s well your end. I wish schools would dedicate time to teaching people how to live an empowered life (e.g. how to respond in enlightened ways to stress, disappointment, unmet needs, etc. i.e. things that easily lead to suffering and emotional pain) rather than teaching solely intellectual stuff, much of which is biased (e.g. nationalistic perspectives on history, or what history actually constitutes). Just some ramblings sparked somehow by your feedback 😉 Love & hugs, Sam 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers so much 🙂 I’m mega chuffed for the nomination, although – as you correctly intuited – I’m going to politely choose not to participate. I loved reading your answers to the award questions, and a huge congrats for your inspirational posts that are very award-worthy! Love & hugs, Sam 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s fine, to be honest I am not sure I will accept anymore myself. I’ve got four in my first month, I think that’s plenty of validation that I’m doing a good job! Love and hugs to you Sam 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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