Difficulties, problems, unhappiness appear in our lives when our ideas of how things are supposed to be contrast with the way things actually are. It is a very obvious thing, but we often don’t think about it this way.
Based on our conditioning and past experiences, we construct a world in our mind, and then, expect and believe that the outside world should accommodate to my design. And in our modern times, more than ever before, there is this believe that we can and should control the external world!
Of course, when we do control it and things do happen the way I expect them to be, it feels good, it is sweet, it is wonderful! We feel at peace, happy, content, satisfied, full of life and energy.
The problem is that because the world is infinitely more complex than we understand it to be, it often does not adapt to the way we believe it should.
And then what happens?
We feel bad, depressed, negative, upset, angry, disappointed, anxious, stressed.
This is what I call the ups and downs of life.
On the one hand, hoping, fighting, and delighting in and for the ups.
On the other hand, fearing, resisting, and grieving in and for the downs.
And in this way our lives move, develop, evolve…and pass.
One name this has in some traditions is Samsara, an endless circular movement of existence.
For most people, this is all there is.
And for most people, because they don’t know better, they feel that this is how things are supposed to be: sometimes down, sometimes up and, hopefully, later/tomorrow/next month/next year/when and if this or that happen, more up than down.
But it is not!
There is a way out of this cycle of Samsara.
And this way out is to be at peace with myself before the world is or is not the way I want it or expect it to be.
What does this mean?
Finding peace within myself means to connect, to find, to discover the experience of Now: not the past, not the future, and not even a thought about this moment. Now, as the experience of Being.
What is this Being?
It is a space of silence. Not an empty, hollow silence, but an alive, aware, meaningful silence.
Past and future require thought, a movement of the mind, a sound.
Try to go to the past, or the future, but don’t think about them.
It is impossible.
It is not easy to realize, but unless you think about them, they are not there!
Actually, both the past and future are spaces that only exist in the mind.
But don’t believe me, try it for yourself. Go to the past or the future but don’t use thought.
You can’t find them.
Now, just for a second, even a fraction of a second, stop thought, and see/realize that something remains.
What remains is Being.
An ‘experience’ without movement, without sound; an aware silence.
(This space of silence, of Being, is always there, with or without thought, but is ‘hidden’ behind thought, just like a screen is ‘hidden’ behind a movie.)
And in this space of Being there is peace, there is fulness, there is completion.
And Being is always here, is always available, is always at hand…if we are open to receive it.
The problem is that, because we spend so much time in the past, in the future or complaining and fighting with the moment, the space of Being is apparently hidden from us…like a screen is apparently hidden from us behind an exciting movie. Because we are always lost in thought, in sound, in the movement of the mind, we don’t realize Being.
But we can discover it.
It is always here. It is always now. It is always available.
We just need to realize that it exists.
And then, to want it deep enough.
And here comes the reason why suffering can be useful.
I mean, nobody likes suffering, and for very good reasons! Generally speaking, suffering is something we all want to avoid and get rid of.
But there is one good use of suffering, and that is to show us that depending on the world to find satisfaction does not work.
I mean, think about it. When do we suffer?
We suffer ONLY when the world is not giving me what I want, when the world is not behaving the way I expect it to behave. And because of the infinite complexity of the world, we cannot, and should not expect it.
We can, without a doubt, study, learn, practice, and discover ways that will help us get what we want from the world. But we cannot demand or expect that we will always get what we want. For example, sickness, old age and death, for us and/or for the people we love, are sure to happen. This is actually what the Buddha discovered; that suffering is inevitable.
But if in the moment we suffer, we are not completely taken by the suffering (as most people are most of the time), then we have a chance to see that suffering is trying to communicate with us.
Suffering is like a whisper of life telling us that we need to find a different way to be happy, content and satisfied.
If we have ears to hear, we will be able to listen to what suffering is whispering to us:
‘Don’t rely only on things to be the way you want them to be. If you do, together with joy, you will also find me. We are inseparable.
Look higher, look deeper, look inside.