Pain is Inevitable. Suffering is a Choice…

<Oct. 2008>

This phrase keeps coming up.

I think I first heard it in an Art of Living course, about a year & a half ago. (1)

Eckhart Tolle says much the same thing – in slightly different words, perhaps, but the message – the essence – is the same. (2)

Life will bring us pain. This is absolutely & utterly unavoidable. There will be pain in many forms. Pain – loss – shocks – heartbreak – illness – the death & loss of dearly loved ones – the repeated failure of the world (& even ourselves) to live up to expectations.

What is really relevant for each of us as individuals, it seems to me, is what we do with the pain; how we choose to deal with it. Do we do the “misery loves company” deal, strike out & flail at others – making those around us miserable too?

Do we hold it all inside, letting it roil around and recycle itself endlessly – very likely making ourselves sick in the process?

Or do we somehow learn to transmute it – learn how to live fully in each moment, to the best of our ability – & experience our (God-given? Universe-supplied?) capacity & potential for joy?

This is our choice.

I am grateful for many, many blessings in my own life. One of my birth gifts, as an Aries person (we are said to be the “infants of the Zodiac”) is a pretty fair ability to live fully in the present moment.

But I’m working at getting better at it.

It requires a lot of vigilance … a lot of practice … a lot of self-reminding.

I plan to keep right on working away at it, because the rewards are HUGE.

What’s not to like about dumping suffering from one’s life??


p.s. Somebody named Richard Rohr said, “All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us.” Is this not so??

(1)  The course was great! I’m not a real AOL “devotee” – but I did enjoy the introductory course very much. It made me feel as though my emotional “innards” had been scrubbed clean…. Learn more about it here 

(2)  I can't recommend his book A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose highly enough, as well as his earlier book, The Power of Now – A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. His audio tapes are also excellent. And, you can also watch the Webcasts he did with Oprah Winfrey; they are excellent! Go to this site