The purpose of suffering, I believe, is to gain a deeper respect for those words we enjoy the most; love, sex, spontaneity, lust, and happiness. The purpose of the loneliness, we attempt to avoid, is to make us more present, more spontaneous, and deeper lovers. We suffer, to discover our connection, to create unique paths of communion with God. By this I mean: some find their connection through writing, others through meditating, some through making music, and others through creating platforms for people to tell their story. We must learn to recalibrate during moments of despair; when suffering seems endless. Everyone craves recognition, to be seen, and, definitely, respected; one must learn, and there are many ways to learn, to do this for himself. There is a thin line between necessary and unnecessary suffering; necessary suffering, must be respected, coming from a source beyond one’s knowledge, and in order for a shift in consciousness; we must dive to the depths of this suffering. Unnecessary suffering, also must be respected, must be analyzed to discover its purpose and solution. There are psycho-social limitations placed on the choices of dealing with our suffering; whether we grow up in a Christian home, Christ is expected to deal with our battles. Or we are raised Muslim, then Allah shall resolve our internal conflicts. A personal example, being a black boy that played football, all his life, the last means of escape for me, in anyone’s mind, would be yoga and writing. I watched as my friends became addicted to weed, found communion in gangs, or skipped sleep to play the Xbox. Everyone treated these symptoms of despair like they were apart of becoming an adult; these were avenues I was not willing to accept. Socially the path, I chose, was given the nefarious term of being “weird”; however, I had to learn to deal with my suffering in my own, unique, way. I had to get creative with the passage through my, personal, darkness. Suffering gave me the confidence to follow my, own, moral compass. One must learn to go his own way, without hesitation, deeply, but must not block off acceptance from guides. The way of the loner, maverick, individualist voyager is partly illusionary, but there is a grain of truth. No one is entirely alone, but one must have the ability to carry himself through the world. This is not an easy task when trauma has paralyzed us; creating a deep mistrust of the world, believing this distrust protects us, as we continue to reinforce a harmful, divisive, hyper-independence. If we continue to treat suffering as an enemy; the feelings of aloneness will continue to block us from connecting with the world. No one can live with this blockage, and anyone doing so is merely hanging on to life by a thread. Living has never been easy; everyone shares a responsibility in empathizing, and helping people get through their suffering. We cannot do this without trusting ourselves and having a faith in life. We can not move through the world expecting someone to take our manhood, or believing someone is out to destroy us. People carry crystals, wear crosses, and pray on their knees 5x a day to protect themselves from suffering. There is a desire, a wish, to be freed from suffering, but there is no way of escaping this universal truth. We put up so many barriers to prevent ourselves from experiencing the depths of our pain, but we must realize suffering and joy depend on one another. Although, our suffering is unique it’s also universal; only through trusting our voice, and our work, can we bridge the gap between us and our avoidance of pain. We escaped the jungle and settled for an existence of monotony, routine, and predictability of modern life. Now we cling to wealth; we move through our bleak days chasing certifications, and grow weary from following illusionary standards of living. I, personally, have no desire to revert back to our hunter-gather days, but there has to be a way of life that allows us to live without so much fear, resent, and envy.
I have personally met, very smart, people that believe you can follow certain steps to live a perfect life. They tell us: Do not get pregnant, Go to college, Save all your pennies, Do not disturb anyone or get on anyone’s bad side, never be content, and, most importantly, never make a mistake. The most damaging, for me, is the phrase “Never be Content”; the definition of content is “in a state of peaceful happiness”. How could we possibly continue to move through the world with such misanthropy that we are telling people to never be peacefully happy? We are, absolutely, following the advice perfectly; with so much of our lives devoted to acquisition. We are completely avoiding anything close to contentment. I question our relationship to life. Do we enjoy living? Or are we merely waiting to die; finding a way to scrape by until we do not rise for the universal morning roll call. Maybe this is the reason for our disrespect and smiling contempt for anyone that lives a lifestyle outside of what we consider good or “what the race truly needs”.
The country has no issue blaming the sufferer for having suffered; but the congratulations, for the overcomer, is never as great as the silence that consumed him. Suffering is not for respect from the world outside, but a inner tranquility of self-assurance; a deep reverence for the self and recognizing the world is going through those battles as well. Suffering is a fact of life, and only if we can take on the responsibility of that suffering can we love deeper, more respectfully, and give ourselves over to the moment. No explanations, psychological textbooks, spiritual readings can help us move into a place of contentment with suffering; only a pure acceptance of its position in our lives. Suffering is just as real as the wind, trees, joy, happiness, plants, sun, moon, and stars. This acceptance is not passive, but comes through an active participation of self-discovery. Through every triumph more goblins appear; but one must have the courage to accept that goblins will forever be apart of ones life. The power to overcome our suffering is through accepting the fact of these creatures; there is no life without hardships, pain, fears, silence, and loneliness. It is, so deeply, unfortunate when we deny the existence, or prevent ourselves from feeling the entirety of suffering, for that pain provides the intimacy that allows for vulnerability; it’s like a secret reservoir of possibility. This vulnerability is the carving of a new identity; which means, a new relationship to the self and world.
Another, unfortunate, assumption of the American idealism — an ideal I believe is being slowly pulled apart, thanks to the work of enraged passionate revolutionaries of language; men and women creating spaces for conversations because we recognize the effect of these debilitating assumptions— is the split, in personality and wholeness, placed on masculinity and femininity. The world places its expectation inside of you the moment your genitals are discovered; in that moment we all are essentially split in half from exploring the treasures of our other sides. Men are not allowed to be vulnerable and women are not allowed to be independent. We are, essentially, denied wholeness; creating a dependency on someone to fill that space for us. We often forget the people we love share this same division of personality; they also share our same longings, desires, and traumas. Because of this naïve delusion, our loves are merely, empty, attempts at bridging our divide. This romanticism of love, spills into our idealism of suffering, creates a belief in escaping from our troubles through an energy outside of us. This is innocent and immature; truly, while both naïve and arrogant, it is an attempt to live and love wholesomely. Buddha said, “Life is suffering”, and the Buddha was correct, but life is also joy; we must learn to strike a balance between these truths. That balance is where we find the reason for suffering; in the deepest depths of our being and those spaces of vulnerability is where the light shines through.
We must destroy the belief of being the only sufferers in the history of the world. We move through the world with a Jesus Christ complex; believing no one, so moral and just, has ever been through such turmoil. This belief is only clipping our chances of connecting with other sufferers. It is through suffering that awakes us to the depths of our love; the moment I reached my loneliest was when I began to respect the opportunity to love. I told myself, the next time love comes into my life; it would be treated with the upmost respect. It was in that darkest hour I made a commitment to being loving; I understood how love, if treated loosely and carelessly, can be taken away from the indolent. The darkness, of loneliness, helped me appreciate the light of love. There comes a time when one must rise from his cave and venture into the world that rejected him; we cannot forever remain buried, underground, or in basements. We must fight for our lives and use the intimacy of suffering to connect to the world around us..
Death is real, life is real, love is real, suffering is real, and it is not a matter of choosing what to focus on. Facts and truths exists regardless of our focus; it’s a matter of accepting them when it’s there time to come. This may require a devotion to spontaneity, a commitment to shock, and acceptance of unpreparedness. We begin by creating our own sangha, church, meditation center, and sacred spaces — I have no desire to spread the myth of the self made man or that one must achieve this state through rejecting all help — within ourselves, so we can have a foundation as we carry ourselves around the world. Using suffering is recognizing that other people suffer, and will always suffers, but if we can, somehow, allow ourselves to not be corrupted by this suffering, I believe; we can love deeply. We must learn to suffer; that is the only way we can learn to love.