October 15, 2009

Looking at Suffering

In Buddhist practice, we investigate the nature of suffering. One of the first things we may notice is our relationship to it. We may discover how we tolerate, avoid, or accept suffering in unhealthy ways. We may notice our aversion to suffering, which creates even more suffering.We may also notice how suffering functions in our lives. We might be using it as proof of or justification for inappropriate judgments about ourselves: e.g., that we are blameworthy, inadequate, or incapable. Identifying strongly with our suffering can become our orientation to the world. Occasionally people hang on to the identity “I’m a victim,” and want to be treated by others as a victim. We can use our suffering to get other people to respond to us in ways that may not be healthy.

However, being willing to investigate suffering and to look at it closely and nonreactively changes our relationship to it. We bring a healthy part of our psyche to the experience of suffering. Instead of being wrapped up in our suffering, lost in aversion to it, or shut off from it, we simply ask: “What is this?”

- Gil Fronsdal, Tricycle, Winter 2002

Read the full article:
Living Two Traditions

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joseph mc lean's picture

hi yes i would agree to that feading in know gil is a very wise man,but what he said i think is just relivent to are own suffering within our minds,i still belive that each one of us on this earth has to share are own responsability towards the suffering that is around us every day,we need to look deep within our self,s and think what am i doing to help those who are suffering around the world.we all need to take responsablity toward are actions. Its a great and wounderfull thing to do when we meditate and send our love and compassion energy towards all ,but i also belive that if we also speak outside of our minds to each other,and alot of needless suffering in the world could be stopped.
love and respect

Gina Sage's picture

There was a time in my life years ago my children were 6&7 at the time. I was married to a woman who was physically abusive to all of us. I had also got sober and was going to meetings, trying to change. I had been laid off from my job. Times were very bleak, afraid to leave the children home with her, bills were piling up.
My sponsor was and is a practicing buddhist. We met for coffee and I would tell all that was and wasn't going on in my life the poor me's as we call it and he listened.
Then one day my sponsor said to me. I don't know why you're going though this difficult time but embrace it, honor it, love it, for what it is.
At first I looked at him and said what are you F*#(ing crazy! But from that point on my life changed, I was okay. Nothing had changed except my perspective on my situation. Today my children are 22 & 23.