On Setbacks and the Pain of Suffering – Quotes and Resources

SandArt - PropDel_CompressS
Carved sand by the water’s edge.

Life seems to present varying degrees of setbacks and suffering.  While taking a brief walk outdoors between shinpan duties at the 2018 U.S. Junior Nationals Championships, I was moved when I saw a young boy in kendo gear hunched over, heaving and sobbing with a person – perhaps his father or coach – by his side.  He may have lost a match that he desperately wanted to win.  Jin Yong JO (조진용, 趙秦用) 先生, a member of the Korean team at the 2018 World Kendo Championships shared a similar experience after their loss to the Japan team in [Jo_KendoJidai].  A close friend suffered a concussion in a shiai with a rather physical opponent and many months of pain and down-time.  And, sadly, a kendo family with the Butokuden dojo in California lost a loved one, Arata Ogikubo, a little over a year ago.  He was struck by a car while riding a bicycle.

 

Who hasn’t experienced difficult events or times in life?   Who has never lost a match or failed an examination?  Who has never experienced a tragedy, the loss of a loved one, rejection by a significant other (person, school or employer), failure, financial loss, an accident, injury, illness, loneliness, depression, addiction or ____________ (please fill in the blank)?

The challenge for myself, those mentioned above, perhaps yourself and many others, is in dealing with such events and times.  Here are some quotes and resources (below) that I have found helpful in this regard.  The quotes also include a few from those I know or have met by chance. I will update this article as I come across additional quotes and resources.  Here’s the breakdown of the content:

  • Quotes
    • About Suffering
    • The Value of Suffering
    • The Source of Suffering
    • The Truth Behind Suffering
    • On Handling Suffering
    • On Healing
    • Surrendering vs. Giving Up – Distinctions
  • Resources
  • References

If you ever feel moved to do so, please feel free to comment on suffering or how you handle suffering.  It’s a topic dear to my heart.  The related topics of grieving, dying and living are addressed in “On Grieving, Dying and Living – Quotes.”

May you experience peace and freedom from suffering!

Updates – Oct 2019: Added quotes from Morty Lefkoe, Sean Stephenson, Jeff Foster and Robert Adams.

Quotes


About Suffering

  • Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
    • The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.  Beautiful people do not just happen.
    • You have to temper the iron.  Every hardship is an opportunity that you are given, an opportunity to grow. To grow is the sole purpose of existence on this planet Earth. You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose.
    • When life puts you through a tumbler, it’s your choice whether you come out polished or crushed.

    • When we face the worst that can happen in any situation, we grow. When circumstances are at their worst, we can find our best.
    • We point to our unhappy circumstances to rationalize our negative feelings. This is the easy way out. It takes, after all, very little effort to feel victimized.
  • God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open. – Hazrat Inayat Khan
  • All the world is full of suffering.  It is also full of overcoming. – Helen Keller
  • Watch a man in times of adversity to discover what kind of man he is, for then at last the words of truth are drawn from the depths of his heart, and the mask is torn off. – Lucretius, On the Nature of Things
  • Adversity introduces a man to himself. – Unknown
  • Suffering is equal to pain multiplied by resistance. – Shinzen Young
  • God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or diplomas, but for scars. – Elbert Hubbard

  • There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so. – William Shakespeare
  • If a man talks of his misfortunes there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him; for where there is nothing but pure misery there never is any recourse to the mention of it. ~ Samuel Johnson
  • We, who are like senseless children, shrink from suffering, but love its causes. – Shantideva

  • Dalai Lama:
    • Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
    • I am the source of my own suffering, because of the habits of my mind.
    • I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance.
  • Michael L. Fournier
    • Suffering is entirely our own creation. Suffering can not exist unless we create it in our own mind and give it the attention and energy to continue. Suffering is created entirely by our own thoughts.
    • Without thought there is no suffering.
    • One who has endured enough suffering will find themselves ready to strive for this state (of Pure Awareness, Consciousness) and will continue working tirelessly observing their thoughts, quieting their minds, and will continue until the ego no longer exists.
    • If you are not ready to put in this level of effort, perhaps it only means you have not suffered enough yet.
      • It is like the old man and his dog sitting on a porch. The man’s friend asks why the dog is moaning. The man replies that the dog is laying on a nail. “Why doesn’t he move?” asks the friend. The man answers “I guess it doesn’t hurt enough yet?”
  • Sean Stephenson [Stephenson_MindPrison]
    • Note:  I found this ~10 min video very helpful when facing adversity in life and thoughts.)
    • Lesson number one:  Never believe a prediction that doesn’t empower you.
    • You know what the worst drug that ever hit the human race is?  Pity.   The moment you feel sorry for another person or the moment you feel sorry for yourself, you’re hosed.  You’re totally, completely frozen in potential.
    • The second lesson today is you are not your condition.  You’re not.  I’m not disabled!
    • I’ve been looked at and treated my whole life as if I am not able.  I have had to rise above and show people that the only disability is one’s refusal to adapt. You have to adapt to whatever environment you’re in, even if it’s prison. 
    • And what does adaption look like?
      • I think it looks like celebration.  Because when you meet people that are celebrating their life, you want to be around them, you want to learn from them, you want to do business with them, you want to hire them. 
    •  If you do not want to be seen as a prisoner or a convict when you get out of this, or even while you’re in this, then it’s an attitude, it is a belief in yourself that you bring value to the human race, no matter what your current condition, title, or stature is.
      • Because if I believe that I am disabled, I would wither up, I would be shy, I would be insecure, I would be afraid, I would act like I need your help.  And the rest of humanity would be OK with that.
      • But I choose something else, I choose to be strong, I choose to be a leader.  I choose to have words to move this planet.
    • I’ll tell you why I was born.  And I hope it inspires you to find out why you were born. 
      • I was born to rid this world of insecurity.  Because when a human being is insecure, they do stupid stuff.  When we feel like we’re not enough, we chase external validation, and external objects to try to tell us we’re enough.  You are enough.
      • I found that every human being just wants to be loved, even if they’re tough, even if they’re scary, even if they’re vicious.  You get them in the right position, at the right time, they’ll tell you the truth.  They just want to be loved. 
        • Do you know whom they want the love from the most?  Not their moms, not their dads, not their wardens.   None of these people.   They want to be able to look in the mirror and love themselves.  And if you can figure that out, then you’re going somewhere.
    • I’m going to teach you what the real prison is. 
      • It’s not surrounded by bar, wire, or electrical fences.  The real prisons do not have guards, the real prison’s up here (pointing to the head).  And we all got it.  We all have a mind that chatters, so often won’t stop chattering.
    • What I call “bullying yourself”:  beating yourself up, being your own enemy and telling yourself that all those predictions, those negative opinions that they’re true, they’re right, you’re washed up, failure.  You’re not going to amount to anything. 
      • Bullying yourself is the most dangerous thing that you could do. 
      • You can not afford to pity yourself, you can not afford to bully yourself, you have to love yourself,
    • Do you know where your salvation is?
      • It’s not outside these walls.  I’ve met so many people that are so extremely successful and famous, that are in prison, because they’re stuck in their minds, bullying themselves, pitying themselves. 
      • True freedom is dropping down out of that mind. And what my wife has taught me is to drop into your hearts.
      • When you love yourself, whether you’re sleeping on a prison cot, or in a mansion, whether you have food in your belly, or you don’t know when your next meal is coming, when you love yourself, when you learn to master your emotions, then and only then are you free.

The Value of Suffering

  • To have become a deeper man is the privilege of those who have suffered. – Oscar Wilde
  • Eckhart Tolle [Tolle_Suffering]
    • If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you, no humility, no compassion.
    • Suffering is most people’s only spiritual teacher and suffering deepens you.  It gradually erodes the mind made sense of self, the ego.
    • Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego.
  • Suffering is a corrective to point out a lesson which by other means we have failed to grasp, and never can it be eradicated until that lesson is learnt. – Edward Bach
  • Suffering is one of life’s great teachers. – Bryant H. McGill
  • Life is rough. If it were smooth, we’d slide right through it without noticing. A bumpy ride teaches us gratitude and perspective. – Terri Guillemets
  • Blessings alone do not open our eyes. Indeed, blessings by themselves tend to close our eyes. We do not come to know Him in the blessing, but in the breaking. – Chip Brogden
  • Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever. — Isak Dinesen
  • Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.  – Charles Dickens
  • The period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience is the most difficult period in one’s life. – Dalai Lama
  • Most people begin to open to their life not because there is joy, but because there is pain. – Stephen Levine [Levine, p. 34]
  • When suffering happens, it forces us to confront life in a different way than we normally do. – Philip Yancey
  • When you are suffering, you become more understanding about yourself, and also about other people’s sufferings, too.  That’s the first step to understand somebody – to understand their sufferings.  So then love follows. – Yoko Ono
  • It is by overcoming obstacles that man develops those qualities he needs. – Peter D. Ouspensky
  • Life smoothens the corners of a square personality into a round one that can roll. – a Korean proverb from the mother of a friend.
  • Like ocean waves to rocks, suffering seems to smoothen our rough edges. – Young, KendoNotes

The Source of Suffering

This set has grown large and is organized as follows:

  • Eckhart Tolle
  • Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • Ken Wilber
  • Patrick Wanis
  • Jeff Foster
  • Morty Lefkoe
  • Alfred Korzybski
  • Charlie Badenhop
  • Robert Adams
  • Additional Ones
  • Eckhart Tolle:
    • Suffering begins when you mentally label a situation as bad. That causes an emotional contraction.  When you let it be, without naming it, enormous power is available to you.
    • The mental suffering you create is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is.  On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgement.  The intensity of the suffering depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment.
    • [Suffering] is created out of resistance to what is.  … It comes from a thought, an interpretation – not from the situation.
    • [R]emember it’s the thoughts, your thoughts that make you suffer more than anything else.  It’s not usually the situation.  It’s your interpretation of the situation of how dreadful it all is.
    • From [Tolle_Stillness]
      • Much suffering, much unhappiness arises when you take each thought that comes into your head for the truth.  Situations don’t make you unhappy.  they may cause you physical pain, but they don’t make you unhappy.  Your thoughts make you unhappy.  Your interpretations, the stories you tell yourself make you unhappy. p. 147.
      • “The thoughts I am thinking right now are making me unhappy.”  This realization beaks your unconscious identification with those thoughts.
  • Nisargadatta Maharaj
    • Pain is physical; suffering is mental. Beyond the mind there is no suffering. Pain is essential for the survival of the body, but none compels you to suffer.

    • Suffering is due entirely to clinging or resisting; it is a sign of our unwillingness to move on, to flow with life.

    • Selfishness is the cause of suffering. There is no other cause.  It is only with separateness and self-seeking that real suffering appears in the world.  When desire and fear end, bondage also ends.  [Maharaj_Suffering]
    • It is the emotional involvement, the pattern of likes and dislikes which we call character and temperament, that create the bondage. Do not be afraid of freedom from desire and fear. It enables you to live a life so different from all you know, so much more intense and interesting, that, truly, by losing all, you gain all. [Maharaj_Suffering]
  • Ken Wilber
    • From [Wilber_NoBoundary]
      • And it is just that understanding which is universally said to constitute liberation from all suffering. p. 49
        • Stated positively:  when it is realized that one’s self is the All, there is then nothing outside of oneself which ‘could’ inflict suffering.  There is nothing outside of the universe against which it much crash.
        • Stated negatively:  this understanding is a liberation from all suffering because it is a liberation from the notion that there is a self which ‘can’ suffer in the first place.
      • As Wei Wu Wei put it:
        • “Why are you unhappy?  Because 99.9% of everything you think, and of everything you do, is for yourself – And there isn’t one.”
    • From [Wilber_Awareness]
      • We say, “To lose face is to die of embarrassment,” and that is deeply true: we do not want to lose face! We do not want to die! We do not want, to cease the sensation of the separate-self! But that primal fear of losing face is actually the root of our deepest agony, because saving face—saving an identity with the bodymind—is the very mechanism of suffering,…
      • But when I rest in simple, clear, ever-present awareness, I lose face. Inside and outside completely disappear.  It happens just like this:
        • As I drop all objects – I am not this, not that – and I rest in the pure and simple Witness, all objects arise easily in my visual field, all objects arise in the space of the Witness. I am simply an opening or clearing in which all things arise. I notice that all things arise in me, arise in this opening or clearing that I am.
  • Patrick Wanis [Wanis_Suffering]
    • Simply put, all of our suffering derives from our relentless and crippling attempt to seek permanence or constant control in life – our inability or refusal to accept change and our battle to control things over which we have no control and are truly powerless.
      • We refuse to accept that our bodies age, that we grow old and frail, and therefore we expend so much energy trying to look young, only to find ourselves wallowing in self-loathing, misery and rejection of who we truly are. We seek to control our world and even the universe, again refusing to accept that we have no real control over our universe. We can influence our world but we cannot control it;
    • We overcome suffering when we are flexible and open; when we surrender and become fluid as water.
  • Jeff Foster
    • From [Foster_NonDuality] which I found very helpful and clarifying
      • Within suffering you’ll always find seeking.  Seeking is the basic mechanism behind all of our suffering.
        • We might seek wealth, success, power, fame, or we might seek for ‘spiritual’ things instead – but really it’s all the same seeking.
        • The spiritual seeker might seek awakening, enlightenment or a non-dual state instead of money and power and success – but deep down, it’s the same movement.
        • We live on autopilot and we don’t question our seeking until this way of living breaks down, and we call that suffering.
      • The wholeness that everyone is looking for is actually already here within this present experience, within this present moment.  The wholeness that you’re looking for – is what you are.
        • It sounds like a total paradox when you try to understand it with thought and it really goes against everything that we are conditioned to believe.
        • It’s not about understanding this with the mind, with thought – it’s about really seeing this for yourself, in your own experience.
        • In a way, this offers nothing to the seeker – it is the experience of being a seeker in the first place, that’s the illusion. And it’s that illusion that this message exposes.
      • We are like waves in the ocean, looking for the ocean, longing to be part of it.
      • Suffering is “forgetting” who you really are. 
        • We suffer when we don’t see this completeness – this intimacy – within the present experience.
        • When we don’t see that every wave that’s presently appearing is part of the ocean and therefore allowed in the ocean, we start trying to escape this moment to attempt to reach the next moment.
      • We experience ourselves as not whole or somehow broken so we attempt to move “away” from this moment.
        • In truth, that movement is not actually possible but we try anyway because that’s how we are programmed.
        • We try to move away from this moment to get to the next moment, to tomorrow or next year or to ten years time.
        • We start to use time to achieve this.  This is the origin of suffering.
          • We try to escape what’s happening now. 
          • We try to run away from aspects of our present experience.
          • We try to escape these thoughts, sensations and feelings and get to a future place where things will be better.
          • That’s the movement of suffering.
        • Then we create stories and identities around this suffering: ‘Oh, I’m a victim of my suffering. I’m a victim of fear and pain! Why is this happening to me? How can I escape this experience?’
      • Suffering is a great teacher.  Maybe it’s the best teacher but we often don’t see that…
        • But suffering is always an opportunity; it’s an invitation to discover the completeness in what you are running away from. Which aspects of your experience right now are not okay? Which waves (thoughts, sensations, and feelings) of the ocean are being rejected right now? Which waves are not being seen as part of the ocean?  Basically, what are you at war with? This is always the question that suffering leads you to.
      • Within the experience of suffering you’ll always find seeking.
        • You can believe as much as you like that you’re not seeking, or that you are free from the self, but whenever there’s suffering there’s seeking.
        • It’s the story of ‘me’ looking for something, escaping something; it’s the story of incompleteness or of feeling that there’s something wrong with you.
        • So, the invitation – not a demand – is to take a look at what you are at war with right now. What’s the story? What are the images you are trying to hold up? What are you defending? What are you rejecting? What are you running away from?  Look a little deeper. Perhaps these images of yourself are not who you really are. Maybe these stories don’t define you.
      • We suffer when we try to hold up images of ourselves – ‘I’m strong, I’m enlightened, I’m a success, I’m loving, I’m kind, I’m happy’ – which conflict with life as it is. And in the end, all images conflict with life as it is – no image can match this moment.
      • What I’d say is forget about trying to become more present; that can just be another form of seeking.
        • It’s a beautiful idea, but it’s still the same seeking mechanism. ‘One day I’ll be present!’ 
        • Ultimately, you cannot become more present; for you are presence itself.
        • There is “already” presence and there is only presence. Everything is already appearing “in” presence.
    • [Foster_NoteSuffering]
      • Forget the attempt to escape suffering. Suffer fully – and suffering evaporates. Why? Because there is nobody there separate from what you call ‘suffering’. There never was. It’s a paradox when you talk about it – and yet when you discover this secret it’s the most obvious thing of all, and there is no paradox, there is just life appearing, in its fullness.
  • Morty Lefkoe
    • Editor note:  I highly recommend watching Lefkoe’s TEDx Talk listed below.  He describes a path to less suffering in life.
    • From [Lefkoe_Suffering]
      • Suffering is not inevitable. The Buddha recognized that it is not our pain that causes our suffering.  It is the meaning we attribute to the pain that causes our suffering. Meanings like:  I can’t do that.  My boss will be upset. They’ll laugh at me.  She’s angry with me.  I screwed up again. … Sound familiar?
      • There actually is a way to quickly and easily dissolve the meaning we unconsciously and automatically give events all day long.
      • Whenever you notice a negative emotion of any kind, ask yourself what happened just prior to the emotion and what is the meaning you gave that event that caused the emotion.  Then make a clear distinction between the event and the meaning you gave it.  That’s it. 
      • As soon as you get that the meaning is not part of the event, that it is only in your mind, it will dissolve.  And as soon as it dissolves, any negative emotions it had caused will disappear instantaneously.  And when the emotions disappear, your suffering stops.
    • From [Lefkoe_TEDTalk]
      • Attributing meaning (to events) causes upset and suffering. (9:08)
        • Suffering comes from the meaning you give events. (10:47)
        • All meaning exists only in our minds, not in the world. (6:58)
        • Events have no inherent meaning. (7:03)
        • Dissolve your meaning (given to events) and stop your suffering. (6:13min mark)
      • It’s important to distinguish between suppressing feelings and dissolving the meaning that causes a feeling. 
        • Suppressing a feeling is having a feeling and pressing it down – keeping yourself from knowing that you’re actually having a feeling.
        • That’s very different than dissolving the meaning that causes the feeling because when you do that, feeling disappears.  There’s nothing left to suppress.
      • Editor notes:
        • I love his example starting at 7:45 of three ways a person could feel about rain in the evening:  nothing, pain (because of an open air wedding the next day) or joy (because rain on the wedding day is good luck in that person’s culture).
        • And the example of his friend Josh Maroney who turned the mundane job of photocopying to an interesting one. (9:18).
        • The directions to distinguish meanings from events starts at 11:12.
        • It is probably important to point out the value of living with a sense of meaning and purpose as put forth by Dr. Viktor Frankl.  And that Lefkoe appears to be neutralizing the emotional drama that the mind might create when events occur.
        • A reviewer’s comment pointed out similarities of this with the work of Albert Korzybski and General Semantics from the 1930’s.
  • Alfred Korzybski from [Korzybski_Science]
    • The map is not the territory, it is a representation of the territory and useful in so far as it corresponds to the territory.
    • Comment by Dr. Peter Davies in an Amazon Review:  “The book is the great statement of non-identity – the description of a thing or process is not the thing or process itself.”
  • Charlie Badenhop from [Badenhop_Suffering]
    • When we don’t understand our essence we misrepresent and distort all who we meet and all we encounter, and thus we suffer.
    • When we’re at peace with who we are we’re not attached to winning or losing, succeeding or failing. When we’re not attached to the results we achieve, our body stays relaxed, we breathe freely and easily, and we think less. Quieting the thinking mind leads to intuitive action. Intuitive action leads to living calmness. When we don’t think we don’t know. When we don’t know, we learn from everything.
      • I want to be careful to not give thinking a “bad name” here. Thinking is necessary and can of course also add to the quality of our life.
      • The crucial point to consider is whether or not you’re able to think while remaining calm.
  • Robert Adams from Transcript 72 on “Suffering” [Adams_Works]
    • What you mean by suffering is that the world is not turning the way you want. Things are not going your way.  p. 874.
    • If you live in the now, and you are spontaneous, and you do not react to conditions, how can you suffer? 
      • It is only when you react to conditions that come your way that you suffer.
      • As long as you believe you are the body you will have to deal with conditions. When you realize you are not the doer, you are not the body, you are not the mind, there is no one left to suffer, there is no one left to be unhappy. Consequently, you have to identify with reality, and then lose your identity in reality.  Then you will never suffer.  p. 874.
    • The I-thought has made you believe there is an ego, a mind, a body, a world, a universe and a God.  You have to put up with all those things because you didn’t follow the I-thought back to the heart. … If you do not trace the I, you will always suffer. p.874
    • When you are suffering, you will look for someone to relieve you of suffering. So you look for a guru, or a healer, or someone who will take away your misery. But if you take this approach, when one misery is taken away, another ensues. There is no end to it.  … If you try to alleviate suffering, you are doing the wrong thing, because you are trying to alleviate something that never existed! You are creating the problem situations. p. 875
    • Rather, search for the Self, which is what you really are. When the Self is uncovered, so-called problems and suffering will no longer be there. p. 875
    • So how do I stop suffering? Realize that no one suffers. Suffering is in the imagi-nation. When the imagination is transcended, there is peace and harmony. The way to attain this, is to question yourself, “To whom does it come?” Follow it through. Do not work on your problems, do not try to solve them. Do not even think about them. If you start thinking, catch yourself. The mind has to become quiescent. When there is a quiet mind, no one suffers. There is no room for suffering. Where the mind identifies with the body and world, suffering increases. p. 878.
  • Additional Ones
    • Attachment leads to suffering. – Buddha
    • All the suffering, stress, and addition comes from not realizing you already are what you are looking for. – Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Most people wish they could erase suffering out of the dictionary. Today’s culture of comfort and instant gratification has no patience for suffering – most people want to drug it, escape it, divorce it; do anything but live with it. – Joni Eareckson Tada
    • The reason you experience suffering is because of the illusion of separation (from the absolute). – one of my teachers.

The Truth Behind Suffering

  • Every flower must grow through dirt. – Proverb
  • Rumi:
    • The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
    • O Seeker, pain and suffering make one aware of God.
    • What hurts you blesses you. Darkness is your candle.
  • Buddha
    • If the problem can be solved, why worry? If the problem cannot be solved, worrying will do you no good.
    • Nothing is forever except change.
  • All the suffering, stress, and addiction comes from not realizing you already are what you are looking for. –  Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Suffering is a call for inquiry, all pain needs investigation. – Nasargadatta Maharaj
  • We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, “Why did this happen to me?” unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way. – Author Unknown
  • Suffering is a signal.  …  (I)t alerts us to the fact that we are not being aware of what we really are. – Robert Thurman from “Fear the Right Thing”
  • (I)f you really look into that, you can find out for yourself that behind the pain there is always something we are attached to. There is always something we’re holding on to. – Pema Chodron from “The Answer to Anger & Aggression is Patience.”
  • Again and again we cry “I can bear no more!” — that is the human of us. And again and again we bear more, — that is the god of us. – Muriel Strode (1875–1964), A Soul’s Faring, 1921
  • If you are suffering, I can assure you, that you either ‘share’ your suffering with others or you have an on-going ‘conversation’ in your mind where you ‘discuss’ how good you are and how the other person is ‘wrong,’ and has treated you badly. Even feeling guilty and seeing yourself as’wrong,’ is still the need to be ‘right.’ – A Course in Miracles

  • There was a time centuries ago when children often died at a young age and when people died at a younger age.  Our expectations have changed. – A rationale elderly man that I met recently who suggested that I read up on history.

On Handling Suffering

  • My definition of healing is: coming to terms with things as they are. – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Eckhart Tolle:
    • From [Tolle_Problems]
      • Fulfill me, make me happy, make me feel safe, tell me who I am.  The world cannot give you those things, and when you no longer have such expectations, all self created suffering comes to an end.
      • And so when you see that, you see that there is another way to live in which I no longer mentally argue with what is.  And that’s the end of self-inflicted suffering.
      • You can always be free at this moment simply by entering the state of presence.
    • Suffering needs time.  It cannot survive in the now.
    • Much suffering, much unhappiness arises when you take each thought that comes into your head for the truth.
    • The ego says, I shouldn’t have to suffer, and that thought makes you suffer so much more.
      • The paradox is that suffering is caused by identification with form and erodes identification with form.  A lot of it is caused by the ego, although eventually suffering destroys the ego – but not until you suffer consciously.
    • It may look as if the situation is creating the suffering, but ultimately this is not so – your resistance is.
    • You don’t need to suffer anymore.  You’ve suffered enough to take you to this point where you hear the words, “You don’t need to suffer anymore,” and you understand them.  You recognize their truth and you then can see that you do have a choice that you can surrender to the suchness of now, which means every moment to relinquish resistance and if it still arises, to recognize it.
    • After having been lost in the world, suddenly, through the pressure of suffering, the realization comes that the answers may not be found out there in worldly attainment and in the future.  That’s an important point for many people to reach.  That sense of deep crisis – when the world as they have known it, and the sense of self that they have known that is identified with the world, become meaningless.
    • From [Tolle_Stillness]
      • Can you refrain from naming the experience as bad or painful?  Can you immediately accept the “isness” of that moment?  p. 151
      • Naming something as bad causes an emotional contraction within you. When you let it be, without naming it, enormous power is suddenly available to you.
  • Peter Cutler [Cutler] :
    • (Editor’s note:  I cherish these words.)
    • I experience thoughts as thoughts. I no longer mistake them for reality. And this is why I live free from thoughts. And freedom from thoughts is freedom from suffering.
    • If any experience of suffering, no matter how subtle, should arise, I open to it fully without resistance. It always leads back to a thought.
    • There is very strong conditioning to experience thoughts as more than thoughts, to experience thoughts as reality, as truth, or at least as “my truth”.  And there is great resistance to accept that ALL suffering comes only from these thoughts that are believed as truth.  It seems that most of us would rather continue suffering, no matter how bad that suffering is, than accept 1) that thoughts are just thoughts, not reality, and 2) that ALL suffering is created by these thoughts mistaken for reality.
    • When our addiction (to and beliefs in thoughts) is very strong, as it is in most people, we are not yet ready to surrender this addiction. We must hit bottom first. That is the reason for suffering. That is the gift of suffering. It helps us hit bottom. For most of us it is necessary to hit bottom before we are ready to give up such an entrenched and reinforced addiction.
  • Ranjneesh (Osho) [Osho_Suffering]
    • Whatsoever falls upon you, accept it. It is your fate, it is how life is, and nothing can be done about it.  If you take this attitude, there is no choosing. You have become choiceless. And when you are choiceless, you will become aware of yourself, because now you are not worried about what happens, so you not outgoing.  You are not worried about what is happening around you. Whatsoever happens you will enjoy it, you will live it, you will go through it, you will experience it, …
    • If there is really no suffering you will be poor for it, because suffering gives you depth. A man who has not suffered will always remain on the surface. Suffering gives you depth. Really, if there is no suffering you will be saltless. You will be nothing, just a boring phenomenon. Suffering gives you tone, a keenness. A quality comes to you which only suffering can give, which no happiness can give.
      • A man who has remained always in happiness, in comfort, who has not suffering, will not have any tone. He will be just a lump of being. There cannot be any depth. Really, there cannot be any heart. The heart is created through suffering; through pain you evolve.
    • (I)f there is too much pain you fall unconscious.
  • William Ury [Ury_Yourself]
    • If there is a single lesson I have learned, it is this: in life, we are destined to lose many things. That is the nature of life. Never mind. Just don’t lose the present. Nothing is worth it. There is nothing more important than “this,” the fullness of life right now. p. 72
    • A key to staying in the present moment, I have learned, is to be able to focus on what lasts while accepting what passes. It is to stay anchored in our essential connection to life while we say yes to situations that pass us by—some good, some painful. Let the passing pass, let the lasting last. By focusing on what is lasting—life itself, nature, the universe—we become more aware of what is passing, more appreciative of the preciousness and temporary nature of every experience. p. 72
    • If you talked to your friends the way you talk to yourself, you wouldn’t have any.
  • The sages describe a Way that leads to a higher level of existence, one infinitely more desirable than the level on which most people conduct their lives. The mystical tradition does not offer therapy in the usual sense of that word, but achieving the goal of mysticism – experiencing the Real Self – is said to cure human suffering because its very basis is thereby removed. – Arthur J. Deikman [Deikman]
  • The answer to your problem is to see who has it. – Ramana Maharshi
  • Most of our tensions and frustrations stem from the compulsive need to act the role of someone we are not. – Dr. Hans Selye
  • Love life and life will love you back. – Arthur Rubinstein
  • When you have made good friends with yourself, your situation will be more friendly, too. – Pema Chodron [Chodron_Apart, p.7]
  • Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’. Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.
  • The hope to see my wife and children again one day kept me going. – An Elderly Vietnamese I happened to talk with while waiting for a car tune-up.  He had managed to survive many years in a prison camp.
  • If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it.  … I do say meet it as a friend, for you’ll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it. – Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • Do not wish for an easy life, wish for the strength to endure a difficult one. – Bruce Lee
  • Joni Eareckson Tada
    • My weakness, that is, my quadriplegia, is my greatest asset because it forces me into the arms of Christ every single morning when I get up.

    • I had to be healed of my desire to be healed.
    • Yes, I pray that my pain might be removed, that it might cease; but more so, I pray for the strength to bear it, the grace to benefit from it, and the devotion to offer it up to God as a sacrifice of praise.
  • I started seeing difficult times with ‘thanks’ to this hardship – instead of ‘because’ of this hardship. – Sunny Kim after nearly losing her husband to a serious illness (in Korean at 7:55min of [Sebasi_Sunny] )
    • 어려울 때 아! ‘때문에’라고 생각을 하지 말고 ‘덕분에’로 제가 인생을 보기 시작했습니다. – 김성희
  • We all yearn for what we have lost.  But sometimes, we forget what we have. – Mitch Albom
  • It is our thinking that puts fences up that block the natural flow of the universe from coming into our lives. We then experience this version of our thinking in our life.  Pull up the fences and let go of the resistance. Trust in the universe that created everything that you can see (and not see). – Tracy Webb [Trans4mind_Awareness]
  • Dalai Lama:
    • If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.
    • If there is a solution to a problem, there is no need to worry. And if there is no solution, there is no need to worry.
  • Let go and let God.
  • Not My will, but Yours be done. – Jesus, Luke 22:42.
  • I saw Jesus in my husband. – A lady (perhaps a living saint) that I’ve know since childhood who had cared for and nursed her bed-ridden husband mostly on her own for several years until he passed away.
  • Must you continue to be your own cross? No matter which way God leads you, you change everything into bitterness by constantly brooding over everything. For the love of God, replace all this self-scrutiny with a pure and simple glance at God’s goodness. –Saint Jeanne Chantal


On Healing

  • Pema Chodron [Chodron_Apart]
    • We think that the point is to pass the test or to over come the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. … The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. p. 8
    • When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen.  When we think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know.  Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. … When there’s a big disapointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story.  It may be just the beginning of a great adventure. p. 8

Surrender vs. Giving Up – Distinctions

  • Tim Custis [Custis_Surrender]
    • The difference between giving up and surrender is the difference between suffering (giving up) and being at peace (surrender).  It is the difference between being lost and finding your way.
    • Giving Up:  Implies a lack of action, Is resistance to what is, Says no to life (you curl up into a ball on the bed), Fuels your suffering, Moves you away from God.
    • Surrender:  Requires action, Is acceptance of what is, Says yes to life (you hold your arms wide open ready to receive), Fuels your happiness, Move you closer to God.

  • Mara Tolas [Tolas_Surrender]
    • To give up, is to stop believing. It is admitting you do not care about the outcome. Surrendering is caring about the outcome, while acknowledging you do not control the process, and ceasing your resistance.
  • Tanya Carroll Richardson [Richardson_Surrender]
    • Surrender feels peaceful and is often accompanied by a sense of relief, and giving up feels hopeless and like a defeat.
    • Surrender feels moderate or balanced, and giving up feels extreme or intense.

    • Surrender is admitting that you might not have all the answers and there could be another way, and giving up shuts down new possibilities.

    • Surrender invites the universe to bring grace, new people, and new opportunities into your life, and giving up can block some of the flow of new things into your life.

  • Nneka [Nneka_Surrender]
    • When you surrender, you are calm, …, you feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
    • When you give up, you are exasperated, …, you delve into the depths of despair.
  • William Ury [Ury_Yourself]
    • Accepting life as it is does not mean resigning ourselves to the way things are.  p. 70.  (Editor’s note:  I’d suggest reading the story of a mother Judith and her son as told by William Ury to see a remarkable example of “letting go.”)
  • Chris Axelrad [Axelrad_Surrender]
    • Giving up is resignation, admitting defeat.  The posture of giving up is head slumped forward, expression of sadness, grief, exhaustion.
    • Surrender is different.  You open your arms wide, embrace the Universe, and trust in its flow.  You know in your heart that youare loved by the Divine.
    • At some point, it becomes time to let go. .. to accept, surrender and release.  Time to SET YOURSELF FREE.
      • That’s either going to happen now, or later.  For many, it doesn’t happen until the very end
      • For those of us who REALLY WANT TO LIVE, it must happen sooner.  Because all that weight you’re carrying is what is keeping you from reaching your full potential, from truly living, from being creative and alive and beautiful.
  • Jana Kellam [Kellam_Surrender]
    • If you give-up, your focus is on not being able to do something. 
    • If you surrender, your focus is on trust, belief and utter faith that everything is working out for you in its own perfect way.
  • Christine Kane [Kane_Surrender]
    • Here’s how to know the difference between surrendering and giving up:
      • Surrender keeps you connected.  It may involve painful decisions but you can still feel a sense of peace, and a connection with your truth.  Giving up feels shallow, reactive or incomplete inside.
      • Surrender is a decision.  When you surrender, you remain engaged.  You step in and choose your role in a situation.  Giving up is not so much a decision as a way out.
      • Surrender is drama-free.  Giving up nearly always involves dramatic exasperation and blame on outside people or circumstances.  Surrender needs no fanfare.  It makes itself known only through its undeniable clarity.
    • Surrender doesn’t mean you’re weak or you didn’t try.  It means you’ve tried all you can and you’re consciously choosing to let go.
  • Bernadette Logue
    • [Logue_SurrenderVideo] (Editor’s note:  a powerful video and gift.)
      • 1:21 If you’re in a position where you want to give up it’s likely that you’re feeling one of the following ways: exhausted like you just run out, tired, maybe stressed, frustrated, feeling incapable or inadequate like you can’t figure this out, …
        • 2:27 When you get to the point where you want to give up on something, someone, some situation, some goal, it’s usually because you are completely blocked.  You don’t know how to move forward, …, you get to the point where you’re out of answers.
      • 3:06 Giving up is essentially rolling over, …, saying: I give up.  I walk away from this. … I quit.
      • 3:51 Clearly distinguish there for yourself right now. 
        • Is it that I want to give up because I’m done, I’m not interested, this isn’t for me OR I want to quit because I don’t have answers and … I don’t know how to move forward?
        • 4:10 If you’re … exhausted, you’re tired, you want to create resolution, you want to create outcomes, results, achieve your goals … and you just don’t know how, then surrender is the next step.
      • 4:20 Here is what surrender is:
        • Surrender is:  I don’t have all the answers.  I don’t control everything in life.  I know I can’t do this all on my own.  I’ve done as many things as I know how to do.  I have done my very best … and now I’m in this position and I don’t know what to do.
        • 4:47 Surrender is I don’t want to give up but I don’t know what to do next.. … I need help.
      • 5:05 Here’s what happens when you surrender:
        • You may not get answers right away, you may not get resolutions right away, you may not achieve your goal right away.
        • But … you don’t turn your back on the thing that’s important to you.  You open yourself up.  You leave yourself open.  You leave your mind open.  You leave your heart open and your life open to something new becoming available to you.
        • Surrender allows something new to enter your life.  What?
          • Answers, support, help, signs, synchronicities, right people, right time, new awareness dawning upon you, new insights coming to you.
          • Surrender allows something new to enter when you are struggling with something on your own.
      • 6:07 When you surrender you say I know I’m not alone.  I  know that I am connected to this whole universe.  I know that somehow life supports me but I have to come halfway and be open to life supporting me.
        • 6:21 You might say, “No, I’ve asked life to support me and it hasn’t shown up and I’ve waited a long time and I’ve been very patient and it hasn’t done anything to help me.”
          • It might be very valid in your experience but what I want to say to you is this.  Your energy is everything and most times when people say I’ve done that, what they’ve really done is they’ve demanded of life, begged of life.  They’ve been a desperate energy.  They’ve been frustrated and life listens to your energy not your words.  The universe listens to energy not your words.
      • 6:59 Surrender is like you give “it” up. … You don’t give up on it.
      • 7:05  It’s like you take the issue or you take the goal that you’re stuck with.  You life it up and you say “Life, please give me some guidance.” 
        • And you know what?  I trust.  I’ve got faith that something else is going to come into my awareness.
      • 7:39 And finally the big whammy:  Patience.  I surrender and I have patience.
        • I don’t know when things will become clearer to me.  I don’t know when these answers that I need will flow into my path.
        • They may come when I least expect it.  I can’t control that.
      • 8:17 You might say: “Well, that’s easier said that done.”
          • Yeah, I know.  You have to practice it.  You cultivate surrender llike you cultivate peace, like you cultivate consciousness, … your health.  You practice.
    • [Logue_Surrender]
      • Surrender is giving over to life, NOT giving up.
      • It is when …
        • You admit that you’ve gone as far as you can go with what you know, and you need guidance.
        • You stop resisting the situation. …
        • You acknowledge there must be a way forward, even if you can’t see it.
        • You offer it up to life / the Universe / a Higher Power and ask to be shown how to move forward (give it up, versus give up on it!)
  • Jenny Mannion [Mannion_Surrender]
    • There is a HUGE difference between giving up and surrendering…
      • Giving up is the ultimate disbelief in yourself and what you are truly capable of.  It is telling yourself that no way, no how will anything change to make your situation better.
      • Suddenly I KNEW I HAD to surrender the thought that I had “done all I could do”. 
      • There are many ways to “surrender” and just plain say “I do NOT know it all, I am RELEASING all attachments to the HOW and I am leaving it up to God / The Universe to supply me with WHAT I need to move forward.”
    • Giving up – giving up on yourself versus Surrendering – giving up on the attachments and forgetting about the HOWS.
  • Carla Birnberg
    • As I aged, however, and experienced more of life than planned, I learned there’s a difference between giving up (on a person, on a diet) and surrendering (a belief system, a relationship). [Birnberg_Surrendering]
  • A beautiful poem by Priyanka Kashyap:  “Giving Up or Surrender!!”

Resources


References

[Adams_Works] Robert Adams Satsangs:  The Collected Works eBook version, Edited by Ed Muzika, 2012 (PDF, 2,355 pages).

[Axelrad_Surrender] Chris Axelrad, “Surrender isn’t Giving Up,” blog.axelradclinic.com

[Badenhop_Suffering] Charlie Badenhop, “It’s Your Thinking That Leads to Your Suffering,” Trans4mind.com.

[Birnberg_Surrendering] Carla Birnberg, “Surrendering vs. Giving Up,” CarlaBirnberg.com, April 13, 2018.

[Chodron_Apart] Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart:  Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Shambhala Classics, 2000.

[Custis_Surrender] Tim Custis, “Surrender vs. Giving Up,” TimCustis.com, Nov 5, 2012.

[Cutler] Peter Cutler, “Freedom from Thoughts = Freedom from Suffering,” July 18, 2017, N-lightenment.com.

[Deikman] Arthur J. Deikman, “Observing Self: Mysticism and Psychotherapy,” deikman.com.

[Foster_NonDuality] Nic Higham, “What is Non-Duality – An Interview with Jeff Foster,” LifeWithoutACentre.com.

[Foster_NoteSuffering] Jeff Foster, “A Short Note on Suffering,” LifeWithoutACentre.com.

[Jo_KendoJidai]  “Players comment:  JY Jo (Korea),” Kendo Jidai International, Oct 23, 2018.

[Kane_Surrender] Christine Kane, “How to Surrender (Without Giving Up),” ChristineKane.com, May 20, 2009.

[Kellam_Surrender] Jana Kellam, “Surrendering vs Giving Up – And why you need to know the difference,” JanaKellam.com, Sept 13, 2013.

[Kornfield] Jack Kornfield, “Guided Meditations for Difficult Times: A Lamp in the Darkness,”

[Komarow] Pat Komarow, “A Story of Impermanence from the Buddha,” RockyMountainInsight.org.

[Korzybski_Science] Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics, Institute of General Dynamics, 1st ed 1933, 5th ed 1994.

[Lefkoe_Suffering] Morty Lefkoe, “I spoke at TEDx: How to stop suffering,” MortyLefkoe.com, July 2, 2013.

[Lefkoe_TEDTalk] Morty Lefkoe, “How to Stop Suffering:  Morty Lefkoe at TEDxHoboken,” TEDx Talk, Sept 7, 2013 (19:17 mins)

[Levine] Stephen Levine, Who Dies? – An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying, Anchor Books, 1982.

[Logue_Surrender] Bernadette Logue, “When You Feel Like Giving Up, Surrender Instead,” TheDailyPositive.com.

[Logue_SurrenderVideo] Bernadette Logue, “Feel Like Giving Up? Surrender Instead,”  TheDailyPositive, Sept 16, 2016 (9:19 mins).

[Maharaj_Suffering] “Some quotes from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,” An End to Suffering Blog, Aug 2, 2006.

[Mannion_Surrender] Jenny Mannion, “Don’t Give Up – Surrender Instead to Move Forward,” SelfGrowth.com.

[Nneka_Surrender] Nneka, 3 Differences Between Surrendering and Giving Up,” WorkingMystic.com, Aug 21, 2007.

[Osho_Suffering] hackspirit, “A Zen Master explains the best way to deal with suffering (and why it will make you a better person),” HackSpirit, Oct 21, 2017.

[Richardson_Surrender] Tanya Carroll Richardson, “How to Know If You’re Surrendering Or Giving Up (And Why It Matters),” MindBodyGreen, Sept 14, 2017.

[Sebasi_Sunny]  (Kor, Eng) 세바시 437회 인생은 뜻대로 되지 않습니다만 | 김성희 Voices from Oxford 대표 The 15 Minutes No. 437 – Life doesn’t flow as you expect but… Dr Sung Hee Kim | Director of Voices from Oxford, University of Oxford (17:57 mins)

[Stephenson_MindPrison] Sean Stephenson, “The prison of your mind | Sean Stephenson | TEDxIronwoodStatePrison,” Jun 12, 2014 (10:25mins).

[Tolas_Surrender] Mara Tolas, “Surrendering vs. Giving up,” OneStrideForward.com, May 29, 2019.

[Tolle_Problems] Eckhart Tolle, “All problems are illusions of the mind,” (9:34 mins).

[Tolle_Stillness] Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks, July 15, 2006.

[Tolle_Suffering] Eckhart Tolle, “The End of Suffering,” (5:14 mins), Mar 17, 2019.

[Trans4mind_Awareness] Tracy Webb, “Living in Awareness,” Trans4mind.com.

[Ury_Yourself] William Ury, Getting to Yes with Yourself: and Other Worthy Opponents, HarperOne, 2015.

[Wanis_Suffering] Patrick Wanis, “How to Handle & Overcome Suffering,” Jul 18, 2012.

[Wilber_Awareness] Ken Wilber, “Always Already:  The Brilliant Clarity of Ever-Present Awareness, Integral Life, Dec 10, 2016.

[Wilber_NoBoundary] Ken Wilber, No Boundary – Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth, Shambhala, 2001.

 

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