Dave, is it possible for us to end our suffering, and if so, how?
Wow, what a great question!
This is how I see it. In living your life you have two choices, the way of resistance or the way of acceptance.
If you choose the way of resistance you will undoubtedly exacerbate your suffering. If you choose the way of acceptance you get a much easier passage through life and greatly mitigate your suffering. The important point here is that YOU CHOOSE, even if it’s unconsciously.
Therefore the key to the whole question is to raise your awareness to the highest possible level. You will almost certainly have to overcome a whole lifetime of negative conditioning, so great awareness is essential.
The Dalai Lama tells us, “there’s really no avoiding the fact that suffering is part of life….” So that’s the first thing we have to accept. “Suffering is the underlying nature of Samsara,” he adds (Samsara means our unenlightened existence). And therein lies a gigantic clue. If we live an enlightened existence, as I have seen in a handful of people, do we then suffer?
Let us now consider the teaching of Eckhart Tolle who tells us that our pain, suffering and all our neurotic behaviour is caused by our refusal to live in the present moment. The past is a mere memory and the future has not yet happened, therefore to live in the past or the future is to dwell in fantasy land. If we come into the present moment, here and now, your ‘problems’ will melt away because now is the only real moment in time, and here is the only real place. putting it another way, it is impossible to be somewhere else other than where you are at any given time, and it’s equally impossible to exist in any other timeframe except in this moment, just as you cannot be anyone else other than who you actually are. As soon as you get that and stop trying to be or do otherwise, you get in tune with reality and your inner conflict drops straight away. That’s what I mean by acceptance.
I have put this to the test many times and it works, but you can only do it with a high level of awareness. Here are a few examples from my everyday life: I start the journey from home to a place in France where I keep my boat. On the way there my mind is crammed full of all sorts of stuff – what happened with a client I saw yesterday, worries about bills and money, and all the things I’ll have to do when I get back home. etc.
But once the sailing begins - in fact the very moment we cast off those mooring ropes – all that stuff disappears as I find myself automatically focusing on what’s going on right now. The challenges, the joys and sometimes the difficulties of conducting a boat safely from A to B occupy my whole mind, and all those worries literally disappear, for the time being anyway.
During the moments we are sailing, the idea of suffering simply does not arise (unless it’s raining and/ or very cold), which is why I regard it as a meditation.
The same happens when I write, build something out of wood, make something on my woodturning lathe, read a book, watch a great movie or play a musical instrument.
Now, because I have had these very real experiences I have discovered it is indeed possible to end my suffering, for a while at least. While I have my full awareness on what I’m doing at this very moment, and while I’m in a state of acceptance of what is going on, there is no suffering, so Eckhart Tolle, the Dalai Lama, and countless other sages and gurus, are right. The difficulty is maintaining that awareness while, let’s say, doing the washing up. Perhaps if I were able to maintain a state of awareness, I would also get great joy from doing the washing up!
Meanwhile, probably the greatest help is meditation. Meditation undoubtedly helps to build your awareness and lifts your consciousness to a higher level. But that’s another story for another day…
More information: www.daverobsoncoaching.co.uk
Dave’s book: www.thefivepillarsofhappiness.com
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