Today, I want to take the opportunity to write about finding the source of suffering–specifically, my suffering–but I think other people will also get some use out of this exercise.
Right now, one of the biggest sources of my suffering is worrying about whether I’ve been betrayed or cheated on, or what someone else thinks about me. Connected to that, is ruminating over what I coulda/shoulda/woulda done in the past. “It’s all about the he said she said bullshit” as Limp Bizkit so poetically put it.
Then I worry about how dependent on others I currently am financially, which makes me ruminate about how I got myself into this situation in the first place. So it’s not a good mental place to be, and I’m well aware of that.
The fact that I can articulate my thoughts and write this article suggests that I’m figuring out some important things about myself and about life. I believe there are several concurrent and synchronistic journeys taking place in anyone’s life; spiritual/mental/emotional/physical. It’s like the roots, trunk, branches, and leaves of a tree. Each separate part works together to tell a complete story.
I’ve written before that suffering can be a catalyst for self-realization, enlightenment, and transcendence. This may be the only meaning of suffering that makes it bearable. Suffering can also be the reason we make our lives a living hell, or decide to improve it for the better.
In order to transcend suffering, we must find the source of it. Going back to the thoughts that are causing my suffering, I see that it’s wrapped up in my self-image, aka Persona, and whenever I identify with my Persona, I suffer for it. And even the “I” or Ego that’s identifying with the Persona is in itself a form of identification. It’s made up of thoughts, beliefs, and images which have feelings and moods.
This is “me”, and “I’m” suffering. I call this the False Self; my sense of who I am in the world and in relation to other people. The one who’s doing the observing, this is closer to my True Self.
All suffering comes from identification with the False Self. When the False Self eventually has a nervous breakdown, it may finally come into alignment with the True Self. Then there can be real strength, stability, and joy.
I’m not so interested these days in self-esteem building affirmations, like “I’m a worthwhile person” or “I’ve got a lot to offer.” First of all, I am and I do, but that’s pleasant Ego-stroking that quickly wears off.
What I’m really interested in is experiencing freedom and joy–freedom from worrying about other people’s opinions, freedom from a fragile Ego, freedom from a false sense of self–and this can only be found within.
image credit: Pixabay