This Month's Contents: Haiku Prayer | Outpouring a poem by David Carse | Acceptance-Surrender by Tess Hughes | Quietude by Bart Marshall | Committed? by David Scoma | How the Word "My" Changes Everything by Paul Hedderman | Quotes | Humor | Reader Commentary & Question of the Month |
As a reader of The Forum over the past several years, I have eagerly anticipated the arrival of each edition for its thought-provoking, inspirational and motivational content. My goal as editor of some of the upcoming issues is to maintian the essence of The Forum as the spiritual magazine that it is, and I hope that it will inspire, motivate and encourage introspection for others as it has done so well for me. Big shoes to fill for sure, and I will certainly do my best to make each edition Truth infused.
Please notice the question of the month at the bottom of The Forum. Prayer will be the theme of the May issue, so send me your thoughts, experiences, poems, photos....
Someone asked me recently, “What exactly do you mean by the word suffering?” Good question, and more importantly, how do you come to the end of it in your own experience? This is the essence of spiritual development.
I have read that the Buddha summed up all his teaching by saying “I teach suffering and I teach the end of suffering.”
I will tell you a story which is a good illustration of suffering in action, both legitimate and non-legitimate. This story was told to me by the principal of the local school in the community where these events took place.
Some years ago, in a rural village in Ireland there lived two families who on the surface had much in common. Each family had four children of around the same age, of whom the youngest was a boy. This being a farming community, having a son is highly prized as families like to leave the farm to a son who will carry on the name of that family into the next generation. This traditional way of life still continues in rural Ireland to this day.
The boys were born about one year apart. When each boy was ten-years-old, he was killed in a freak accident. Needless to say these events caused much grief and sorrow, not only in their families but in the whole village.
It was a few years after these events that I met the principal of the local school where the boys and their families had attended and she told me that the two mothers had responded in totally different ways to the tragedies. One mother, Mother A, had become supportive and loving to the class her son had been in. She came to their Confirmation ceremony with a gift for each child in the class because, she said, they had been her son’s friends and had brought so much fun to his life while he was amongst them. She told them how much she loved them for having been her son’s friends and she was really interested in how each one of them was getting on since he died. She invited them to always remain in contact with her. These children loved her and felt loved by her.
The other mother, Mother B, was resentful and angry with the children who now lived while her son was dead. “It is not fair,” she insisted, and made clear to the children that she resented them. She grew bitter and withdrawn. The other parents withdrew from her as well, finding her accusations too painful.
The question: What had been going on with each woman to cause them to react so differently to such similar circumstances?
The loss of a child is undoubtedly a cause of tremendous sorrow, what I would call legitimate suffering, to use Bob Ferguson’s term.
Legitimate suffering is the suffering of life, the inevitable happenings over which we have no control. The strange thing about legitimate suffering is that in accepting it, it becomes a doorway home, to our true self.
For me, legitimate suffering has the quality of originating in the emotions. It is not thought-produced. When thought takes over these emotions, this is when non-legitimate suffering begins.
The kinds of thoughts that arise in non-legitimate suffering include ideas such as should, resent, reject, despise, despair and so on. They are commonly known as negative thinking.
These thoughts amount to a rejection of what is actually happening. What's happening is the ego is rejecting what life has presented, and in the process is setting itself up as contender for the role of the Almighty. It claims, “I know what’s best.” Of course the ego is doomed to failure, but it does put up a fight.
The problem is in the claim to “knowing”. There is no knowing what's best or not. Life is. The full acceptance of what is, is automatically free of non-legitimate suffering.
Legitimate suffering contains the key to the kingdom of heaven.
Nisargadatta Maharaj said “Life is trying to wake you up; please cooperate.”
In my story, Mother A cooperated with life’s attempt to wake her up and Mother B did not. In other words, Mother A accepted the legitimate suffering that life dealt her in the loss of her son and her ego became weakened as a result. This is based on the observed behaviour of the two women. Mother A's behaviour does not carry the hallmarks of self-righteousness displayed by Mother B who clearly showed her non-acceptance of the situation dealt to her. This attitude on non- acceptance of life on its own terms is an ego-enhancing attitude.
How one deals with a tragedy, indeed any problem in life, depends on the attitude one has developed prior to the event. We can decide what attitude we will have, though many people are not aware of what their own attitudes are.
An attitude of acceptance of legitimate suffering leads to awakening. The opposite is also true: an attitude of non acceptance of life’s events is ego-enhancing and contrary to awakening to your True Nature. This is what Nisargadatta is pointing to.
The more intense the suffering, the greater the consequences in terms of either enhancing or destroying the ego.
And another thing that can happen is that intense suffering can lead to a complete turnaround of attitude.
Here's an example of how acceptance of small things works. A person stubs their toe. This is painful and is legitimate suffering because toe stubbing is a natural part of life. How one responds to it is the key. One can simply accept it, deal with it, take pain killers or whatever and consciously accept the pain involved until it passes. It's having an attitude of accepting one's share of the world's suffering.
An alternative is to complain and feel sorry for oneself and put energy into resisting what has happened. This attitude is ego-enhancing and leads to non-legitimate suffering.
We can choose our attitude; we can develop an attitude over time.
By developing an attitude of acceptance of what is actually happening one is automatically dissolving ego. Ego is, by definition, non-acceptance.
So, acceptance of legitimate suffering is the key to ending all suffering, paradoxical as it may sound. Take note in your own daily life of the minor events that give you the opportunity to develop an attitude of acceptance to what actually presents itself.
Richard Rose used the term “afflictions to the ego” to refer to incidents of suffering. These afflictions to the ego are the “life’s attempt at waking you up” that Nisargadatta is referring to. What both these great teachers are saying is that events of your personal daily life contain the key to your awakening. Just pay attention to how you deal with these events. Are you willing to accept your share of legitimate suffering? Or do you resent or deny events that do not fit in with your plans for how you would like it all to play out for you?
For more writings by Tess Hughes visit tesshughes.com
Find out more about the book The Perennial Way
If somebody told you, right now, that you could walk over to the other side of the room, sit in a chair, and wake up - simple as that - what would be your reaction? What would be the first thought that would pop up into your mind? How eager would you be to dash across the carpet to prepare for the inevitable? How would you feel about being provided the opportunity? What would be your reaction - both verbally and through actions - to the one who asked you that question? What would you do to demonstrate your intent?
Now what if, instead of the situation described above, you were told instead that in order to wake up - starting now - you would have to get some 'work done'. Meaning that the universe, while perfect, was not just going to give your character a free ride. Intent was ripening 'within', and it was time to 'act' on some of that and start scraping off the barnacles blocking Truth. What would be your reaction? Would it be as excited and as focused as it was in the first scenario? Would you dive right in and with a precise, non-wavering attitude? Allowing without objection what needed to be removed to get blown away - even if it might take a while? How would you feel about being provided that opportunity instead? As before, what would be your reaction, both verbally and through actions? What would you do to demonstrate your intent?
Now what if, instead of the scenarios listed so far, you were told that in order to even have the possibility of waking up occurring, your trajectory would have to be perfectly 'guided' by the universe through the assailing of your motives? Or through your demonstrated intent? And most especially through the pace of egoic dismantling? Additionally, what if the surrender to this process had to be without question and not mired in your resistance? Instead of weeks or months, what if it could take years? Perhaps painful, hard-lived years of desolation, scrutiny, and honest difficult work? And what if it were made clear that even with all you would potentially have to go through, there would be absolutely no certain promise of any sort of 'success' along the way on this particular pursuit? One last time: how would you feel about even being provided the opportunity in the first place, despite these current caveats? What would be your reaction, both verbally and through actions? What would you do to demonstrate your intent?
Review your responses to all three scenarios, as honestly and as bluntly as you can.
Ups and downs, difficulties and setbacks abound on the pathless path. Yet should Truth be sought sincerely, Truth is worth any price. But if any of your responses from scenario three or two lacked the drive, the excitement, the power, or the determination from scenario one - do yourself a favor. Take a good, hard, unflinching look at the reasons why.
For more writings by David Scoma visit justperception.net
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check out more from Paul on his website zenbitchslap.com
Thy will and not my will… you know you are living this when…
by Anima Pundeer
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