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Buddha of suffering

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“If when I die, the moment I’m dying, if I suffer that is all right, you know; that is suffering Buddha. No confusion in it. Maybe everyone will struggle because of the physical agony or spiritual agony, too. But that is all right, that is not a problem.” Shunrya Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

Image courtesy to Robert Boni: Shunryu SuzukiBuddha of suffering.

I feel so relieved when I read this quote. There are just many Buddha’s, not just the peaceful one. Buddha of confusion. Buddha of stuckness. Buddha of anger and fear.

Being on a path of mindfulness and compassion doesn’t mean that we feel happy, peaceful, and open all the time. Even Thich Nhat Hanh writes about moments of anger and sadness in his life. Being on a path of mindfulness and compassion just means that: being mindful and compassionate of all that arises. Our sadness, our fear, our anger, our jealousy, our depression. Embracing all feelings with love and care, no discrimination. Using our experiences to really understand what it means to be a human being. “Oh, this is what anger looks like. This is how it feels in my body. These are the thoughts that come with it. These are the impulses that grab me.”

Usually we aren’t in this space of openness. We have an aversion to our unpleasant feelings. We want them to go away, and we will go to great lengths to get rid of them, yelling, slashing out, blaming included. Or, we have an attachment to our pleasant feelings. We want to be happy, peaceful, calm all the time, and we hate it when these feelings disappear. Or, we are deluded and ignorant of what’s going on inside us. We zap our time away, drink, drug, sugar coat our experience, or lose ourselves in mindless reading, talking, gaming, watching television.

Aversion, attachment, delusion, the three causes of suffering according to Buddhism.

The less we can stand our feelings, the less able we are to connect with people and situations with openness. Instead of being penetrated by our feelings, and standing our discomfort, we look for a scapegoat, someone we can blame for our suffering. We want to make them wrong, hoping this will make our experience better. We are unable to observe clearly and truthfully, and start creating enemy images in our head.

If we want to connect to the reality of life, we better learn how to accept our feelings. Then we can separate our pain and suffering from the trigger, and look deeply into the causes of our suffering. We might have wrongful thinking. We might carry emotional trauma. We might have unmet needs. When we stand our feelings, we can see the causes of our suffering, and we can connect to the beautiful, precious, universal needs underneath our feelings. Then, and only then, can we make requests that enriches all life.

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You want help to stand your feelings and connect more openly to life? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping professionals schedule time for relationships and self-care. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

6 thoughts on “Buddha of suffering

  1. WOW Miss Elly. That hit the spot quite well. Coping with feelings, looking at everything and trying to find peace with in the trauma. I am grateful for the things I’ve learned through your blogs. I take your messages with me often. I am able to redirect my introspection in a more positive way. More forgiving less judgmental of myself and others.

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    • Oh gosh, I feel so happy you feel more forgiving and less judgmental of yourself and others. There is such a joy in self-acceptance. I think it is Pema Chodron who says in Noble Heart that her teacher instructed her to not dwell on all her mistakes, but learn from it, and create something new. Thich Nhat Hanh shares the story of a Vietnam veteran, whose platoon was blown up by the Vietcong. He was the only survivor. He was so angry that he decided to make sandwiches with explosives in them and hand them out to children. They got all blown up. Getting back to the USA his remorse and guilt was almost unbearable, and he was unable to make a life for himself. He shared his grief with Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich Nhat Hanh tells him to stop dwelling in the past, and instead use his insight and energy to help children who are in need right now. I have always felt touched with that story. To use our mistakes to learn and make a different, more wholesome choice.

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  2. dear miss elly. i hope many people will some day discover your blog for it’s so good to read it and think about it. and rethink it and then try to practice it. i think i am reading my mindfulness book now for the fifth time and it is almost like the Bible, each time another light emphasizes another corner of life, of my life.
    it is quite a miracle that you and i are both trying to lead a mindful way of living.
    please continue your writings as i will continue to follow your interesting blog.

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    • Beloved sister, thank you for commenting on my path. Yes, it is a miracle that we both practice mindfulness as a way of living. I feel happy to know that you are on this path with me, it is encouragement, community, and support. I have never read anything from Jon Kabbat-Zin. I worked with Steven Hayes’ “Get out of your mind&into your life” at least three times, and I plan to pick it up again, when I am visiting the Netherlands in November. I found it helpful and insightful, I can imagine it had the same impact on me, as Jon Kabbat-Zin has on you. Love you!

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