Tag Archives: suffering

Troubled Times or Great Opportunity: Embracing the Unknown

Image: By Hans Thoma – cyfrowe.mnw.art.pl, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28406642

Many of us are plagued by the violent whispers of fear and apocalyptic visions of death, loss and economical demise. We are imprisoned in our own homes, condemned to utter solitude and sentenced to isolation and helplessness. The seemingly contradicting messages sent out by either experts or politicians do not bring relief either. And then there are those who believe that panic is the true pandemic, rather than the true malefactor: the lethal adversary that cannot even be seen with the naked eye.

There are times when there is nothing we can do to change our fate, and when we do not know what is going to happen.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist who had survived the holocaust and had to deal with both the suffering in a concentration camp and the loss of his loved ones, wrote that in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Were his circumstances more severe than ours? It most certainly appears that way. Yet, he found a purpose and meaning where most others could not find it, and because of that he persevered.

So, what can we do in these troubled times? I would say that this is the perfect opportunity to learn how to embrace unpredictability, uncertainty and the unknown. We are forced to face things we most likely can neither predict nor prevent, and more importantly, as we are no longer distracted by normal life’s many attractions, we are forced to face OURSELVES. Furthermore, as our natural tendency is to follow habits that lead us away from facing hard truths, changing ourselves is of paramount importance. There are certainly methods that help, from counselling and meditation to mindfulness and breathing exercises, but at the core, I believe, it all comes down to learning how to sit with the chaos of our own emotions and uncertainties, non-judgmentally and without trying to avoid the experience of suffering. There is simply no better way, and we will come out of it stronger and wiser, not just individually, but as a people, of that I am very certain.

© 2020 Marcel van Delft

Why Acceptance is a superpower

Beauty hides around every corner of existence, if we but only use our true eyes to see it

We mortals seem to be doomed to live our lives as slaves, ruled by the ruthless slaver called emotional response, a relentless beast that gets a firmer grip on our well-being the more painful experiences are added to our experience.


Are we destined to suffer the life of slaves, the life of agony?
Are we programmed to get angry every time we hit heavy traffic or encounter a case of severe weather when it is least opportune to us, even though part of us knows it is pointless?

If you read about the science of the brain and free will, you might come to such a mortifying conclusion.

That, however, does not take into account the superpower of acceptance.Generations of philosophers and countless mystic traditions have inspired us to find that power, but most of us take no heed. I was no different. Always got frustrated, depressed or scared when life lashed out with its whip of confrontation.
I finally figured out that there are only two choices: be a puppet of pain, or a superhero; be enslaved, or free.


Whatever we resist, becomes a blockade, which drains us of energy, spirit and creativity, and eventually can lead to chaos: a disruption of the system in the form of psychological illness and misbehavior. We either shut down in depression, explode into fury, or tremble out of fear.


Acceptance is the only way to go, and in intercourse with other beings, but even in relation to the whole of existence – which is all interconnected – forgiveness is a power not to be reckoned with.
The MORE you can accept AND forgive, the more FREEDOM you will attain! You can abide in traffic like a wise master, and sit out a violent storm like an enlightened being, by virtue of the elegant power of acceptance.

Emotions are intentions, directions, masters of their own, but struggling in endless conflict with their irrational opposites and extremes, and with the impossibility of their realisation.
Freedom lies not in want or will, it lies in an absence of want, the blissful void of acceptance. 

Acceptance of yourself and of small setbacks leads to a small state of flow, like when playing tennis. Acceptance of all the exists and happens, even the most horrific truths and immeasurable agony, is the key to ultimate freedom, the path to be truly human, superhuman.

Conquering the final frontier of existential bondage, the serfdom that binds us to our experiential overlords, is the only true freedom that can be acquired in mankind’s tragic existence.

The question is, do you want to serve, or rule? Use your superpower or be subdued by it?The choice, albeit a hard one, is yours to make.

Photography by Peter van Delft