Suffering is Optional
1. Suffering is optional. While suffering is quite real in our lives, there is a state that is free from suffering and it is possible to achieve it. Since there are two possible states – one with suffering and one without it – we have a choice but this choice is only available to us when we have the wisdom and insight to see it.
2. Suffering is mental. While pain may be unavoidable in our physical body, we do have a choice not to suffer from it. In my work as a doctor, I have seen patients who experienced similar bodily pain, yet one may suffer more than the other. The one who suffers more is the one whose mind is totally absorbed in the pain, creating stories around it and embellishing it with all kinds of fear.
3. Suffering is an error in thinking. It arises out of a wrong view, belief, perception or thought. When our thought departs from reality (from what is) or when we want things to be other than what is, then we suffer.
4. Resisting reality is futile. No matter how hard we try to resist reality or want things to be other than what is, we will fail and suffer for it. The more we resist, the more we suffer as we are going against the flow of what is.
5. We resist out of ignorance. We believe the story we created around our experience. We do not realize that our views are wrong. In truth, no belief is true. No perception is real.
6. A belief is merely a perception of reality. We must realize that our perception has severe limitations. There are at least 3 ways our perceptions are limited.
a. We are first limited by the limits of our sense organs. We see light only between a specific range of wavelengths and cannot perceive those beyond this range. In addition, the way our eyes are structured allows us to see an image that is different from that seen from the compound eyes of a fly. Our other sense organs are similarly limited.
b. Secondly we are limited by our perspective. We can see things only from a specific point of reference, very much like the story of the blind men and the elephants.
c. Lastly, we see things through our own filters. These filters are our mental prejudices, concepts, assumptions, beliefs, experiences and ideas. It is like a camera catching a shot through a certain filter, changing its original colour.
With so many limitations to our perceptions, how can we be absolutely sure that our perception is true? Is it not more likely to be wrong?
7. We are deceived by our thinking mind. Our thinking mind is coloured by our ego or self, rich with its own experiences, assumptions, beliefs, concepts, desires and expectations. Ultimately, our thinking mind itself is limiting our life experience. It locks us into a self created reality, a world of our own creation – an illusion of reality.
8. We can live intuitively beyond the ego-mind. Beyond this thinking mind is another that serves us intuitively. It has the ability to dip into the all-knowing, all-pervading universal mind. It is free from judgment and prejudices, and is therefore free from error.
9. There is no suffering in this mind. Living like the lotus is then possible – to be in this world but not of this world. We can then live in this physical mundane world and still not be afflicted by it.