Our Addiction to Suffering
Have we become addicted to suffering? Learn how to turn unhappiness into joy.
Many of us – from all walks of life and at every level of society-- have become addicted to suffering. Our addiction reaches such an extent that even when everything seems to be going perfectly; we find a reason to feel bad. A classic example is during those times when everything is going far too well, it feels too good to be true, and we look for ways to question, doubt and even complain about our good fortune! The good news is we can free ourselves.
For some of us there may be a certain comfort in suffering, in being a victim, because we don’t have to take responsibility; it’s much easier to blame someone else for our own discontent. Some of us get lost in the suffering we have been through in the past, unable to embrace things anew or see them through fresh eyes. We then miss out on experiencing the beauty of the present moment. We need to restore our innocence and focus on the love within us and in the world. This requires rising beyond he discontent of the intellect, and embrace freedom and joy in every moment.
Tapping into Love-Consciousness
Love-consciousness is the unconditional love within all beings. It is not a strange or ethereal experience but something very concrete and natural; you have probably experienced it before in moments of your life — maybe while spending time with a baby, a pet, expressing yourself creatively or watching the sunset. This experience is available to all of us at any time, only we have become so distracted by the world around us, we have lost sight of its presence within. Until we go back inwards, and reestablish our awareness in the unchanging fullness that has always been there, we will feel insecure, incomplete. The experience of love-consciousness becomes more apparent when we learn to live in the present moment.
Living in the Moment
Living in the moment helps us rise above the judgments and complaints of the intellect to embrace the world around us with innocent, joyful acceptance. When we experience love-consciousness, we realize that everything is perfect exactly as it is. This does not mean we shouldn’t want to improve our situations and grow. Evolution is the nature of life, and everything is always moving forward; but if we choose to embrace the beauty of what is happening right now, instead of focusing on what we perceive as wrong, love grows, instead of fear
Have you ever watched children building sandcastles on the beach? They are a delight to watch, totally absorbed in what they are doing. They run around filling their buckets and make their castle higher and higher. When it finally stands in all its glory, they wait in excitement for the tide to come in and pull it down. Then they happily start again, building another castle. There is no regret--just the excitement of the next project, a new moment, as they intuitively embrace creation and destruction as natural parts of life.
As adults, on the other hand, most of us seek to preserve the walls of our sandcastles at all costs, in a vain attempt to protect our achievements and possessions from the unpredictability of the world. But it doesn’t matter how rigid those walls are; the tide of life will eventually come in and sweep them all away. We were all children once. Open again to the unknown magic that awaited us around every corner. Embrace that simplicity and spontaneity and let go of the questions, controls, and opinions of the intellect. If you can rekindle the lost innocence of childhood, while at the same time maintaining the maturity and sense of responsibility, you have gained from adulthood, you will transform your life in ways you can’t imagine.
In order to find true freedom from suffering, we need to begin to find happiness within. As adults, we may resist taking responsibility for our dissatisfaction. It’s easier to blame the politicians, our parents, religion, pollution, our bosses, and so on. We can change our external circumstances ad infinitum, but in reality that will never change anything. The outside is just a mirror of our own discontent. Fulfillment, peace, joy, and love do not come from outside. When we are no longer dependent on the shifting changes of our surroundings, we can finally enjoy the unexpected nature of life, free from fear.
Speaking the Truth
In modern society, we have learned to lie all the time. We lie to please others, to defend ourselves, and to hide the parts of ourselves we have learned to judge as wrong or inappropriate. We think, It’s just a little lie, but there are hundreds of them! Whenever we lie, we are abandoning ourselves; we are not loving ourselves. Whenever we modify ourselves in order to receive love, we are separated from self. In speaking our truth, on the other hand, we never compromise ourselves in the search of approval from the outside.
The thrill of romance is something many of us seek tirelessly — the pursuit, the candlelit dinners, the flowers, the songs, all the theatrics. But in reality, we are seeking distraction: the excitement and fantasy are just ways of avoiding the lack of love we feel within ourselves. With love-consciousness, this need to distract ourselves falls away. All the expectations we place on the outside and on our partners — all the reasons we feel unfulfilled within our relationships — just vanish, because we have created a relationship with ourselves. Once you have discovered love of self, romance might appear in your life as an added bonus, but it will no longer be a requirement for your contentment.
Giving of Yourself
Once we have found love of self, the natural desire to share this with others is born. The nature of love-consciousness is to give, and it has the power to reach beyond all apparent differences. When people are complete within themselves, they stop needing to protect, control, or grasp because the nature of love, the nature of love-consciousness, is to give to every aspect of itself. Love perceives itself in everything. It perceives no scarcity or lack. In love, a new perception is born, a new vision for life.
Free Yourself Now
We can find freedom from our addiction to suffering when we choose, instead, to focus on love.
Imagine when you look in the mirror
that the face looking back at you is someone you truly love.
Just imagine. . .
Isha is founder of the Isha Foundation Educating for Peace, and author of Why Walk When You Can Fly. Learn more by visiting isha.com .