Suffering?

Refugee camp for Rwandans located in what is n...

A day or so ago, I had the following request from somebody I know and respect greatly:

“If you have ever wondered why there is so much suffering in the world and felt overwhelmed by it I would love to know how you moved on from that.”

This lady is going through a great deal of suffering of her own at the moment.  I’m awed that she has the time and energy to concern herself about the world’s suffering, when she already has plenty to contend with.  The least I can do is to offer her my own response and, given the news items and social media posts we are all seeing at the moment, I thought there might be a wider audience for my reply.

So what follows is very much my personal truth.  I’m not suggesting that anyone else should believe it or follow it, but if anything here feels right to you, by all means feel free to adopt whatever sounds helpful.

To start with, this is what I DON’T believe:

  • I don’t believe in The Devil or any of the ‘forces of evil’ humanity has enjoyed blaming for its problems through the ages.
  • I don’t believe in a vengeful or ‘just’ God who behaves like the worst sort of patriarchal Victorian father, setting up an impossibly high standard of expectations and punishing us for our sins when we fail to live up to them.
  • In fact I don’t believe in sin.
  • I don’t believe in Karma. In my truth, we are not here to atone for things we or the ancestors did ‘wrong’ either in this life or another.
  • I don’t believe humanity is intrinsically bad, wicked, cruel or evil.

Now for what I DO believe:

  • I believe that everyone – each single human being – does what feels and seems right to them, given their situation at the time.  If they are coming from a position of love, they will give, share, help and benefit the world around them in whatever way they choose.  If they are coming from a place of fear or want, they may bully, torture, attack or destroy; they may seek scapegoats (racial minorities, politicians, corporations, the rich, the poor…) to vent their anger and frustration on; they may believe themselves to be powerless and controlled by forces beyond their control.
  • I believe we create our own reality.  Yes, I’m still struggling with this one.  My ego keeps telling me there’s a solid, unchanging basic world here and I’m just a bit-part player who can’t do that much to change things.  Other sources tell me otherwise.  They tell me the keyboard I’m typing on is almost entirely empty space.  They tell me I have complete control over the world I’m living in and that I use my own energy – the power that comes from my thoughts and emotions – to create it.
  • I believe that every atom in the cosmos is a tiny holographic part of GOD.  That makes the universe a living, expanding, creative, vibrant web of which you and I and everyone and everything else out there is a vital and perfect part.
  • So yes, I believe that we – individually and collectively – have tremendous power and are able to form our own reality, by focussing our energy where we choose.
  • I believe that ‘I’ (in the eternal soul sense) chose to be born and to have this particular life, with all its attendant heartbreaks, terrors and difficulties, because that’s what being a human is all about – just like the computer game I used as an analogy in my book.  We all select a storyline beset with puzzles, problems and difficulties in order to find ways to solve and overcome them, to bring love to them and to expand as the divine beings that we really are.  The bigger the problems, the greater the opportunities for growth and expansion – for ‘spreading the love’ if you like.  As Kahlil Gibran said, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”
  • I believe I’m not acting alone; there is infinite help available from the cosmos.  Whether we call this help god, goddess, saints, angels, spirit, guides, nature or muse is irrelevant.  We can interpret and visualise it any way we like, but it is real and there for us, always and all ways.
  • I believe this is tough to grasp and work with, because we’ve just emerged from around 2500 years of giving our power away and expecting others to solve the world’s (and our) problems, while we sit subserviently and wring our hands in despair.

English: Job's Sons and Daughters Overwhelmed ...

Several people have asked me recently why I don’t feel bitter towards those in my life who have caused me suffering on a personal level.  It’s because I know that at some level, I consciously drew those experiences to myself.  They didn’t feel good at the time; they hurt like mad.  It’s those experiences, though, and the ways I finally found to work through them, which have made me the person I am today.  And I haven’t finished growing yet.

So to answer the lady’s question (finally!) I do see the suffering in the world and yes, I could easily become overwhelmed by it, on a personal and a global level.  However I can make choices as to where I put my energy.  I choose to put it into feeling positive, because that helps to ‘grow’ more positivity.  I choose, in my very small way, to spread hope and light and love, because – according to my truth – I am a holographic spark of God and that means I am powerful enough to change the world.  So, of course, are you.

 

PS  A dear and wise friend reminded me yesterday of Anita Moorjani’s amazing story.  In case anyone reading this is interested, click here for her Ted Talk: Dying to Live.  It explains with far more eloquence than I can muster the relationship between life and suffering.

 

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9 comments on “Suffering?

  1. Well said, Jan. The more we’re able to see suffering as an opportunity to expand the love we are in spirit, into our physical reality, the easier it becomes to expand (move on) to other opportunities.

  2. I very much agree with your beliefs. Just to add or modify one point, I define karma differently because of one experience I had. And because of it, I do believe in karma, but not as some punishment to be atoned for. I believe that our genes carry energies passed down to us, at times by many generations, and one that I discovered in my family showed up as a continuing pattern of female (mother/daughter) wounding. I was guided to look at my mother as a young girl, being wounded by her mother. I saw it as verbal wounding. Then I saw her and I doing the same dynamic, and then back in the family line, back several generations (saw this in meditation). I called in a few ascended masters (Jesus, for one), and archangels to transmute these energies (heal it), and they did. After that day, my mother never verbally abused me for the duration of her life. She also experienced physical change that was undeniably related. So, I see karma as an energy pattern that can show up as behaviors, that we, as a soul, choose to take on in order to experience and grow, discover and heal.

    I very much like your answer to the lady. And I’ve read Anita Moorjani’s book; fantastic.

    • That’s a fascinating story Sue; thank you for sharing it. Yes, I agree, that’s a very different interpretation of Karma and one that makes far more sense to me.

  3. What an enlightening post, Jan! To me, real suffering comes from not honouring yourself by refusing to listen to your heart or trust your instincts, as this is how God guides us to do what is right for our own lives and therefore, by following its voice, we will not harm ourselves or anyone else’s wellbeing. I believe that we are all fundamentally good until we lose sight of this connection to our inner light and therefore we invite all sorts of trouble to our own selves and to the wider community. I do believe in Karma, but not in any sense of being punished for the ‘sins of the fathers’, as it is our duty as individuals to make choices from understanding our heart connection to the Divine (regardless of the context of family and the society we are born into and the big challenge it poses to the realisation of your own, unbiased truth). For me, Karma is all about the effect of your thoughts and actions on the world around you, so if you are presented with an opportunity to do some good, no matter how small, you will never regret it, as each person who feels relieved of even the smallest burden, is more likely to make a correct choice further down the line and this will affect all people eventually – even future generations! Like most people, I struggle with finding the gift in suffering, because it’s hard to accept responsibility for creating such difficulty and drama in the first place, but as I said, the cause lies in our failure to love and accept ourselves enough to trust our own good judgment :)! Oh well, we can but try to be true to ourselves and that is our real challenge to avoid all sorts of suffering further down the line…Thank you for this brilliant post, Jan – everything you write is always so wonderful and thought-provoking :)! With much love to you, Meliza xxx

    • Lovely to hear your thoughts, Meliza, which are as always deep and wonderful.
      My rejection of Karma has obviously surprised a few people. Like any spiritual truth, I’m aware that it can be debased in everyday usage, in this case into a kind of ‘tit for tat’ or comeuppance. I’ve written before about how easily we slip into wanting there to be some kind of punishment for those whose behaviour offends us, whether it be Divine Retribution, the strong arm of the law or the far more trendy Karma. Accepting, as you say, that the drama or suffering has been created by ourselves in some way is a far more difficult and bitter pill to swallow.
      I certainly believe that our actions and thoughts affect our world, in deep and abiding ways, but without the cause and effect element of Karma as I understand it. xxx

      • Thank you, Jan! I truly understand your aversion to ‘tit for tat’ as a motivation for people believing in Karma. Yes, it is a ‘trendy’ definition and if interpreted as a vengeful philosophy, causes much damage. I’m no expert and am sure I’m way out of my depth in commenting about Karma, but as simplistic and idealistic as I might sound, if it reminds us to become more responsible and do good for ourselves as individuals, we will automatically create a better, happier and more supportive world. I guess we’re only trying our best 🙂 🙂 xxx

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