Tag Archives: philosophy

The Paradoxical Need for Suffering

To be honest, I’m horrified by suffering.

My own sufferings, though perhaps modest in comparison to those of others, mostly left me furious, and full of doubt and disappointment. But one thing I know for sure now – as sure as a man can be in a subjective universe – is that I learned something in every single troublesome period of my life, a necessity of experience and insight that I would never have been able to acquire had I not suffered the way I did.

 

I am not going to preach here – let’s leave out religious opinions that so commonly ignite fires of disagreement or even are a cause for contempt – just going to share my experience and insights. I have struggled with cancer and with loads of personal and family drama, but I do not regret having experienced those things. What I DO regret, is that I was unable to accept everything the way it was, that I resisted, fought, and over-analyzed everything. But even that has, on the long run, helped me gain knowledge and tools that are very useful now.

 

But enough about me, let’s try to see it from a different perspective. Imagine you have a child that is suffering from cancer. Mayhaps a daughter, a charming little five-year-old daughter. She still has a long, beautiful life ahead of her, many friends to make, smiles to show and tears to shed. But all of that will be taken away, because that horrible sickness is devouring her every molecule of hope and livelihood. To make things worse, the monster that’s eating her up also makes her suffer, her every waking breath one of agonizing pain.

 

Now here comes the clue. There is a treatment. It is a proven treatment, will leave her fully cured and with no risk involved, because the doctors know what they’re doing, and they are one hundred percent dedicated to your lovely little girl. There is only one problem: it is very painful. It will make her scream, she will have nightmares and at night she will wake up and curse you and the doctors for doing that to her. But it is the only way, and once that short, but horrible treatment is over, she will be healthy, strong, and, as a side-effect, she will also forget what she went through, a no-trauma guarantee.

 

Suffering she will, even without the treatment. But without the treatment, there is no hope. With the treatment, she will go through a hell of pain and fear, but after that it will be like she’s reborn.

The question is: what would you choose as a parent?

Short, severe, suffering, with the prospect and certainty of having a perfectly healthy happy daughter afterwards?

Or call off the treatment, but let her slowly die a death that leaves her without any hope of betterment, of happiness, of life?

If she resists the treatment, she will suffer longer, but eventually, she will cure. The only thing needed is for you to sign the parental consent form, for she is underage.

What would you do?

 

Some spiritual truths, whether we believe in them or not, are very counter-intuitive, very hard to swallow, even disgusting in our common sense of morality. But I believe, in the greater perspective of the higher realm of reality, where there are no absolute differences, where there exists no absolute suffering, and where there are no absolute time or space, it all makes sense. And suffering makes sense too, but only if we submit, accept and reach a higher plain of insight, where the little events of daily material life, that haunt us all the time, seem insignificantly small and meaningless.

 

I have learned personally that suffering made me wiser, and also happier. It left me with scars, but the scars healed and eventually made me a more multi-dimensional person. Whenever I was able to submit, and let go, the suffering was short and less painful, but each time I got upset and resisted, it left me cursing and crying in agony and self-pity. And the times when I SHOULD have received some trials, and they did not appear, I became a lesser me, with some of my resolve and wisdom dissolved, and it created problems I could have avoided otherwise.

 

For me, and maybe also for you, suffering is actually beneficial, it is the treatment that, while enduring it, might seem like unfair and horrible, but which, once you submit to it and let it heal you, will make you a better you, a stronger you!

 

Of course that does not mean that you should seek out suffering, and especially not affect others with it. The beneficial type of suffering is the one that comes uninvited, throught the agency of life events that all play a roll in the greater script, the drama script of the omniverse of the higher reality.

The Crazy Craving for Power

After digesting too much mainstream news, you cannot feel but helpless and pessimistic. If you try to follow stories and sources that supposedly expose the falsity or at least incompleteness of mainstream news, you get an ever grimmer view on this world.

It seems like exploitation, corruption, fraud, theft and oppression is everywhere. It is not a thing of the barbaric past. Neither is it something that only occurs in poor, over-stereotyped developing countries. It is a global, omnipresent “thing”.

I did not write this article to reveal the many secrets (or, for those who believe, conspiracies) that prevent the general public from learning the horrible truths that keep a civilized future just that: a mere “future ideal”. It is up to you to dig and try to figure out how deep down the rabbit hole you’d like to go.

I wrote this to talk more about the “omnipresent thing”. What thing? The craving for power, and all that is related to it (like the temptation of money). What follows is my take on it, my 2 cents.

 

If you have ever heard or read about chaos theory and the theory of complexity, than you might have an understanding of dynamic systems. I am not an expert, but it has influenced my thinking a lot. My idea is that we live in a world that is always changing. The only way for systems to continue their existence, is to adapt, to be dynamic. Otherwise they perish in chaos. Our thinking mind (see previous articles for more information about the thinking mind), which we may also call the Ego, is also like a system. It tries to maintain itself, and to experience a level of comfort while doing so.

 

What does the Ego need? It needs to be able to (or live under the suggestion that it can) exert control; it needs resources like people, self-worth, emotional resources, basic and higher levels of comfort, wealth and money, and energy; it needs the position to be able to leverage between resources, control and the environment.

 

The problems? There is competition, especially at the top of (let’s call it) the pyramid of social existence; resources are depletable and can only be renewed slowly; it is not possible to maintain control of an environment that is constantly changing without changing tactics, or “cheat”.

 

What does the Ego do? It fights the competition by socially acceptable means, or by other means (manipulation, cheating, corruption, extortion, etc.); it is greedy and takes more resources than it actually needs, lowering the chances of the “competition”; it fights a psychological war, by acquiring social or material status; it gains power in its environment and inspires fear into the competition. However, the thinking mind is not the real essence of being. The (let’s call it) soul-mind is the real source of life and consciousness and this pure source has to be intimidated into following the plans and ideas of the Ego, for actually the soul-mind (read more on the soul-mind in earlier articles) does not need the things that the Ego needs. So it has to use trickery in order to survive in its actual form. The Ego feels threatened in its existence and this perceived threat is greater, the higher it is on the ladder of status and power. It will let the soul-mind experience greater fear, and stronger levels of greed, desire for control and need for status.

At the same time, it will become insensitive to things that matter to the soul-mind (like the suffering of other beings, compassion,and empathy) and will offer “the easy way” for any perceived problem. To continue its manipulation and self-affirmation, it can also inspire religious justification for things that are actually more of a political and psychological nature.

 

We see many examples of such justification and manipulation around us, or on “the news”. But it has got nothing to do with spirituality, or even religion.

Is there an alternative? Yes! Power and material fortune, especially when acquired by less humane means, only go so far as to maintain the perceived comfort and control of the Ego. And although fear and greed will keep inspiring to continue on this negative path, the Ego cannot really offer anything lasting and deeply satisfying, it cannot give peace and meaning. The alternatives can, but the Ego feels threatened by them and will do anything to hide them from the soul-mind, its actual real essence. That’s why most people can easily be fooled, manipulated, brainwashed, indoctrinated and tempted.

 

But if they become aware of the false identification with the thinking mind, with the Ego, then they might learn how to let go and find something rewarding and peaceful that no worldy power or money could ever offer. And it is infinite, completely free and available to all!

People who embrace both their true soul-mind, who ignore (but not repress or fight) the illusions of the Ego, and who welcome change and the unknown of the real world that lies beyond this misleading, material one, those people will stop being victims of whatever manipulations or use of power they may be confronted with. It will affect their bodies, but not their soul-minds, and they will not feel the least threatened by it. Because nothing really holds power over us, unless we give it that power by identifying it as such and believing in its effects on us.

The reality that we are served every day by our Ego and the thinking minds of “the competition”, is limited by what can be perceived and constructed in the limited thinking mind world. However, those who partake in it will do anything to further their agendas. Those agendas will only cause suffering to people who still identify with the “thinking mind world”.

 

If you can ignore the screaming tantrums of the brutal, loud and childish thinking mind, the Ego, then you enter a realm of calm and peace. It is this realm that will allow you to see beyond, to welcome the definite reality where all true power and truth reside, where everything is clear and meaningful. In that state of being, the crazy craving for power is transformed in gratefulness and the admiration of the endless beauty of the omnipotent, the omnipresent and the omniscient being of oneness.

The Overwhelmingness of Emptiness

The Overwhelmingness of Emptiness

Try to picture yourself floating in a dark, black room, with no sound, no smell, and no noticeable air friction. It is totally void of any substance that could trigger your senses. There is no background noise. That is hard enough as it is.

Then try to also get rid of everything you think, all your values, your desires, your fears, your plans, your expectations, your assumptions, your beliefs, and… well, you get the idea. Try to experience something like “true emptiness”.

 

This is so hard that Buddhist monks have to learn how to meditate on emptiness for years on end.

Our minds are busy organizers. They continuously shape our mental universe, our mindscape, into a meaningful whole.

You can see this in the way optical illusions work, and in the way the memory of witnesses of a crime lets itself be reshaped, making it susceptible to suggestion and prone to mistakes. You can see it in the way psychologists use varieties of the Rorschach Inkblot Test, where the minds of their clients see meaningful patterns into what in reality are just random patterns of inkblots on a piece of paper.

 

What does this suggest? Our minds want to create meaning. What psychology and other sciences reveal about this might just as well be the tip of the iceberg.

And natural sciences already  suggests a deeper level of reality where things are behaving counter-intuitively.

 

I would like to take it to another extreme: the “real” deeper level of reality is not in any way definite and is much more profound, non-dual and yet infinitely diverse, and unimaginably more fluid than we could ever perceive in our current state of mind. It is like an infinitely small and dense dot where timeless, spaceless reality is a coexistence of endless possibilities, that never take absolute form, but still are able to take meaningful forms and shape meaningful experiences.

Here in mindscape things are finite. We have limits, we die, things break apart, and time passes without ever repeating the same point on the grand scale of history. Here we see certain colors and discriminate them from a small set of others. We observe shapes and clearly recognize them as objective entities that are separate from others. But what if you really try to experience a greater depth in the things you see? If you see a place in nature with a lot of green colors, maybe your mind will notice a few shades, but that’s it. But what if you try to meditate on one shade of green, and then try to experience thousands if not millions of different shades and a kind of perception of “greenness” that connects them all in a kind of unlimited flow, like a never-ending rainbow?

This is just a first little step on the path to trying to understand and appreciate the overwhelming beauty of deeper reality.

 

And yet, it is empty. It is as empty as the dark black room I mentioned earlier, even emptier. That does not sound as beauty, does it? That does not sound like the overwhelming beauty of deeper reality.

The fault lies with your mind. By emptiness I mean the absence of substance of the mind. Absence of the mind is hardly possible, as we are still living in this current reality. But emptiness can be achieved. It requires us to surrender all our presumptions, beliefs, emotions, values, morals, ideas, shapes, percepts, knowledge, and our experience of space and time. It asks us to let go of everything that dictactes reality, everything that our mind tries to influence or control. And when surrendering this, at the same time we surrender ourselves to what lies beneath this “emptiness”, which is in reality overwhelming emptiness, as it is the very opposite of emptiness. Deeper reality is the fullness of emptiness, it is the screaming silence and the flashing darkness, it is shy humility that overpowers you with unimaginable force. It is the smiling diamond that is both fluid AND crystallized, it is every possible shape and percept AT THE SAME TIME, in a now, a present, that never ends. Of course, the words “time” and “end” do not apply, but such are the limitations of language, which is connected to the mind, being is bound to the same limits.

 

So, if surrendering to deeper reality is so wonderful, why is it so hard?

One word: EGO. Our mind is like an organism, it tries to survive and shape its environment. If fears the unknown, it fears chaos, it fears the unexpected and things it cannot comprehend. It fears this, because it means it cannot maintain its equilibrium, its order, its comfortable little universe that makes sense and gives meaning. But change IS inevitable, just as it is necessary. The comfortable mindscape is actually suffocating and it slowly dies, turning into a meaningless void, a psychological hell. Like in the theory of an expanding universe where the distance between stars will grow so vast, and the temperature and energy levels will decrease to such an extent, that it will become like a frozen void. Why is this? Why can’t the mind just create its own meaning? Because it is not FIT to create meaning. It gets its inspiration not from itself, but from deeper reality, which triggers the unconscious. The ego, the control center of the mind, does not want to acknowledge this, and so struggle and suffering are the logical consequences.

The more the ego resists, the more suffering it will cause, and the more rigid its little orderly universe will be in response. It will experience mental chaos as a result of fighting change, and at times it may give in and surrender, but without full-hearted surrender of the spiritual consciousness that actually falsely identifies itself with the mind, it is bound to return to its rigid state.

 

So, emptiness is beauty, and it requires our FULL surrender, which may take a lifetime to accomplish, but is fully and utterly worth it, because it is more than anything else in mindscape can ever be!