Thursday, June 21, 2012


Suffering bothers bothers me a lot. Speaking about suffering and enlightment, in this video Ken Wilber said, "It hurts more; but it bothers you less...When we taste the infinite Absolute of consciousness, the world is seen just as it is—radiant, perfect, and whole. The relative, however, does not cease to be. Quite the contrary, the pains and pleasures of our relative lives are intensified to an unimaginable degree. We have to give ourselves PLENTY of room to feel BOTH: The ABSOLUTE PERFECTION in everything that arises.
..And yet see ONE person starving and you will start crying so hard it will kill you.
" The more we become aware, the more it does hurt; the more acutely the pain and suffering of all those around us is felt.  At the same time, every manifestation we see around us is sacred and part of the Divine and so nothing is ever lost.  Suffering is of the utmost horror, but not to be taken too seriously because in the end nothing can be harmed at all and even death has no real sting.

From that perspective, we CAN watch everything unfold almost like watching a movie, for even though pain and suffering are very real, they are not the ultimate reality...

Enlightenment is realizing that we are all ONE, all manifestations of the Divine, all sacred, all holy.,,and to treat all "others" as such.  How much suffering in the world would be alleviated if we all treated everything as a part of ourselves?  This is why Jesus said, "As you did it unto the least of these, you did it unto me." Because we are all part of God.


Don said...

Mae- I share Bart Ehrman's dilemma to some degree. His book, "God's Problem" (suffering) is a perfect example of what you say. Ehrman says "suffering" is why he is a agnostic today.

Yet I see and feel what you are saying here. But, the historian, pseudo-scholar in me says, "Yes, we are all one, part of the divine BUT". For now, I will have to be content to strive for Ken's view (which I claim to believe) and being sucked back into "God's Problem".

Mae said...

Yeah, I know, I struggle with that all the time...the suffering breaks my heart and I really get stuck in social justice and wanting to change the world. Ehrman does a really good job of examining all the reasons the Bible gives to explain suffering and how inadequate and contradictory they are, but his conclusion leaves me without hope. I really like the Buddhist teaching on impermanence, not that I understand it, but I HAVE seen glimpses...mere glimpses that fade away, but they do leave me comforted as I struggle to maintain hope in the midst of all the suffering in the world. I wrote about one such glimpse here if you're interested:

Mae said...

I'm sorry, this is the link I was referring to:

Don said...

"there is no longer any reason to be afraid of death"

I was able to give up my fear of death when I was able to understand that nothing is really lost (even at death). And, even though I have no idea what lies beyond death, I have a confidence that there is more and it will be fantastic for us all.

Mae said...

Yes, well said my friend. And it is what gives me hope, that "even though pain and suffering are very real, they are not the ultimate reality..."

I'm seeing that when we go numb to the pain and suffering, it causes numbness in all of our emotions. To be fully alive, to be awake and aware, we can't turn away from suffering, but have to be willing to face the pain as well as the pleasure. So to be fully alive "hurts more" yet by facing pain and suffering we allow ourselves to feel all our emotions and that opens our capacity to experience great joy more fully (that's the "bothers you less" part).

Of course, this is certainly not an answer to the reason for suffering, but I think if we allow ourselves to feel the suffering, allow it to touch us deeply, we are more apt to work to alleviate it in any way we can.