For forty-five years, the Buddha said, over and over again, “I teach only suffering and the transformation of suffering.” When we recognize and acknowledge our own suffering , the Buddha-which means the Buddha in us-will look at it, discover what has brought it about, and prescribe a course of action that can transform it into peace, joy, and liberation. Suffering is the means the Buddha used to liberate himself, and it is also the means by which we can become free. Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh
Suffering is unpleasant. At the very mention of the word, I can immediately think of several different instances, I would rather not relive. Then immediately I begin to contemplate pain vs. suffering. Related, often used together, but not really the same, right? In fact, I would take pain over suffering any day. Why? Because suffering seems to imply a long drawn out experience of discomfort. Maybe this has been my experience because the events I tend to associate with suffering felt as if they would never end.
Today’s lesson gives me hope. What if suffering is not the interminable condition I have been thinking it is and rather an opportunity for transformation? The key is the willingness to greet our suffering with open arms and get to know it. (I say this like it is so easy.) I for one have spent a good amount of time avoiding any contact with suffering; it does not mean that it was not there. However, suffering was something be avoided at all costs, with any distraction at hand. Maybe that is why it has always felt never-ending. This leads me to the next bit of hope; if I get curious about my suffering right away then in theory, the faster I can move into the transformation phase. It is worth a try. Peace, joy, and liberation sounds good.
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