I hope the Buddhists and would-be Buddhists in the enrivons will forgive me for eliding one Buddhist hoodoo term. It was distracting to me and added nothing to the meaning conveyed in this quotation, which I otherwise admire greatly. It provides fine grist for the mill of thinking on the subject of loss and resultant suffering.
The person that desires to have only pleasure and refuses pain expends an enormous amount of energy resisting life–and at the same time misses out enormously. He or she is on a self-defeating mission in any case, for just as we evade certain forms of suffering we inevitably fall victim to others. Underlying our glitzy modern consumer culture there is a deep spiritual undernourishment and malaise that manifests all kinds of symptoms: nervous disorders, loneliness, alienation, purposelessness. . . So blanking out, running away, burying our heads in sand or videotape [I believe he refers here to self-help videos, but I dunno for sure.] will take us nowhere in the long run. If we really want to solve our problems–and the world’s problems, for they stem from the same roots–we must open up and accept the reality of suffering with full awareness, as it strikes us, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually . . . . Then, strange as it may seem, we reap vast rewards. For suffering has its positive side. From it we derive the experience of depth, of the fullness of our humanity. This puts us fully in touch with other people and the rest of the Universe. [Emphasis added.]
~ John Snelling, in “Elements of Buddhism” from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, aTricycle book.
Mr. Snelling invites some questions in response. Can he be speaking of the suffering of a parent after the loss of a child, for example? Can he be speaking of the loss of a life without relentless, chronic pain? Can he be speaking of any suffering after a loss so horrible that it seems to eviscerate one’s own life? Those who have suffered from a loss of such magnitude will have to answer for themselves as to whether this passage has any meaning for them. As for me, this passage has much to say that is of great value. I continue to mull it over.
For one thing it explains for me why I have always been drawn to those who have known true suffering and come out on the other side of it spiritually intact. They are always authentic people, are they not? I simply have no time for the ever trimphant, the rampantly successful who have known only the suffering of worrying about accomplishing their next self-set goal, then credit their own brilliance, perserverance, and perspicacity when they accomplish it. It was just dumb luck. They learned nothing of any importance about themselves, let alone others, and are quick to begin striving toward their next goal. The randomness and absurdity of life allows for the existence of many such.
Are there instances when loss and suffering destroy people? Of course. There is a multitude of people who have been destroyed by suffering and loss. Some continue ambulatory. Yet, there is another multitude who survived. Those are my people. What can we say about that? One either survives great suffering or one does not. Why some do and not others is a question beyond answering. The ones who do, however, are my people, the people I want to be with.
I do feel fairly certain of this. Any of us who moves through dark suffering and, by means of whatever resources, reaches the other side is a better human being than he would otherwise have been.
All of that was simply by way of introduction and explanation. Some days ago I was exploring Susan Creamer Joy‘s new facebook page beautiful web site. I went to look at the art of course. Then, I also read her prose and poetry, some selections of which I had missed over the past couple years here. I was completely startled when I read this one for the first time:
Acceptance of the less appealing aspects, circumstances, and situations in life is not easy, but doing so has its own rewards.
Susan Creamer Joy
4 September 2011.
I cannot appologize for the sound of the tennis game in the background because there was nothing I could do about that.