I had some family members in town from Montreal last week and we had some deep conversations about life, death, and religion. One of our biggest discussion and debate was about my firm belief in that "everything happens for a reason" and that life is beautiful even with all its suffering. We need to see the beauty within and all around.
And today, I read an article on Stephen Colbert in the Rolling Stones magazine. I want to paraphrase and quote Colbert from one of his answers, since it plays into some of my recent discussions with my family and friends. It was like Colbert picked my brain and added a new element to what I was so desperately trying to explain to my family. It's a feeling that's inexplicable and illogical, but also sublime and spiritual.
One should be grateful for suffering.
No one doesn't suffer.
The level at which you are aware of your own humanity is the same level at which you can "accept with open eyes, your suffering." - Colbert
"To be grateful for your suffering is to be grateful for your humanity" -Colbert
There are times through my grieving process (for the loss of my brother Robin) that I feel heartless. There's a part of me that wonders if I've grasped the reality and magnitude of my situation. Am I in denial? It's a strange feeling to be "okay" with death, especially when no one around you seems to be. It's weird to feel "okay" when you've just lost your big brother. It doesn't feel normal to feel "okay" with your current and recent situation. Don't get me wrong, I miss my brother and wish he was here with me right now. My heart still feels pain and suffering. But something inside of me (heart, mind, faith or all of it) also tells me that this is life, this is all part of life. And in every experience of suffering there is also beauty. To me, life is beautiful. I see beauty in it all; the pain and suffering, the love and joy, it's simply beautiful. Life and all its wonder, it is truly amazing! And when I read Colbert's words "to be grateful for your suffering is to be grateful for your humanity" it made me feel normal again, human. Without sounding superior, I now understand that the"okay" feelings are a true testament to my strengths in my personal faith, humanity, and love. I accept suffering. I take suffering and find beauty in it to live on. I know I am a very compassionate, deeply emotional person and at the same time I am balanced, rational, and passionately spiritual.
Furthermore, I want to point out that Stephen Colbert is a practicing catholic. I point this out because it doesn't matter what religion you are, faith is all the same, whether it comes from your bible, psalms, or self-help books. For me, when I read the word "suffering" my immediate thought turned to the words of Buddhist teachings. I even mentioned recently in my blog Tattoo This, that all life is suffering and one must simply give in to the suffering and let go. Through this letting go the suffering ends and people can achieve enlightenment. It's hard to deny after every life altering experience I go through, I find my answers in the words of the Buddhist teachings. Maybe, Buddhism, is for me after all.
While I'm on the topic of Buddhism, I want to end this blog briefly talking about the The Four Noble Truths. This is one of the main teachings and the essence of the Buddhist path in relation to suffering. It has enlightened me and guided me through some many hard times in my life...
These are brief explanations to the best of my ability (I'm not an expert on the Buddhist teachings). And surely, more reading and understanding is involved to grasp the true meaning of the Four Noble Truths. And in my opinion, is a lifelong journey. So here's a glimpse:
1) The Nature of Suffering
The very essence of life is suffering. Nothing lasts forever, even happiness. And as pessimistic and depressing as that sounds, it is truth. This truth is part of a strategy or therapy to find the solution to the basic problems in life.
2) The Origin of Suffering
The reason for our suffering comes essentially from our minds. Our main problem is our delusions (of one's self) and attachments (of objects). Because delusions and attachments are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. With every negative action (karma) we do, we create a potential for negative experiences.
3) The cessation of suffering is attainable
Suffering and the causes of suffering are dependent on the state of our own mind, so if we can change our own mind, we can also eliminate suffering. The reasons we do actions that cause ourselves and others harm come from our delusions and attachments.
4) The path to the cessation of suffering
If we can control our body and mind in a way that we help others instead of doing them harm, and generating wisdom in our own mind, we can end our suffering and problems.
"Only with great spiritual attainment can we then see through this delusion and see things as they really are."
One should feel happiness, compassion, love and joyous effort when practicing the Four Noble Truths.
Before I go, let me leave you with a simple quote:
"Smile and accept" -Mother Teresa