True Suffering

photo by Colton Brown

Until I started studying spiritual philosophy, I had a narrow definition of suffering which encompassed mostly physical pain: headaches, cancer, childbirth, broken bones, etc.

But I have realized that suffering is really what we do to ourselves with our (negative) thinking. Anxiety is suffering. Depression is suffering. Guilt and regret are suffering. Worrying is suffering!

In the path to non-suffering, one essential practice (according to the Tao, Buddhists and other spiritual practitioners, such as Eckhart Tolle) is to refrain from resisting reality. For example, if you are planning an outdoor party and it rains as your guests arrive, you do not resist reality (the rain). Instead, you simply move the party indoors and continue your celebration. If you complain and cry out against the rain, will it stop? No. But you pollute the environment for those around you (family and friends) with your resistance.

I propose a concerted effort to watch one’s language in this pursuit: eliminate the words “I wish.”

“I wish it wasn’t so hot in Phoenix!” [forecast: 110°F today]

“I wish my children were better at (fill in the blank)”

“I wish my spouse/co-workers would…”

Wishing for something that is counter to reality is inviting misery, disappointment and anguish.