Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Endless Suffering All
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 9:26
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We suffer because we give room to the idea of suffering. We take what is difficult, or painful, or unjust and let it fester in our minds until it is the whole of our thought, our existence. There is an easy mantra that says, "Change your thoughts, change your life." And it is sweet and simple and only partially true. The magic of affirmations - tricking your mind to believe what you find impossible to believe - is a type of self-hypnosis. It is benign if all that is affirmed is the will to carry on, to continue, to hold out against despair. It is cancerous if it becomes a denial of the life in front of you. Suffering is real. It is the loss of agency, the ability to act, to stem the tide of a loss. Do not deny this feeling, but remember no feeling is final. You suffer endlessly from your losses when you give them the air of permanence. There is no affirmation that will move that stone.
Let your mind do its job instead.
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I pray. I pray every goddamned day. I pray to the life inside me. I pray to what Aurelius called the logos, the mind behind creation. I call it The River. Are my prayers self-soothing lies? Affirmations by a different name? All I pray for is to be in the swim, to give back to life the life inside me. I pray to be as I am and nothing else. I fail at this task often. I lose track of it. I give up on it as the tasks at hand mount and grow overwhelming. I stumble back to my meditations bruised, a bit embarrassed, uncertain of what I am doing, or why I am doing it. All I know is I must do it. My mind craves the silence I find there. I grow calmer, more certain of my name, of my ability to do what is asked of me. This is allowing my mind to do its job: keeping me present, ready to give what I have to give. Without it my life is chaos.
If this is so, why do I ever leave it?
Because suffering is sweet and simple and only partially true and we wedge our hope against hope into the partial truth and convince ourselves that by staying attached to that suffering we can undo it, make our losses come right. All we do is fuck ourselves because we have made permanent that which is transitory.
We were made for something other than this. We are made for something more than this. We have our minds to help us know the world, to connect our soul, our spirit, our logos to world around us. It is here, in the world - with its injustice and ugliness and strife and fear - that we will come to know ourselves and come to know love and kindness and forgiveness. It is here, amongst ruins of incomplete and adolescent thought and feeling that we will grow into our names. It is here, in the brief span of our lives, that we will touch what is eternal, outside of time.
The endless suffering is our attempt to stop up time, to stifle what is changing anyway and we suffer because that river is always flowing. It brooks no dam. It does not eddy. It moves.
Allow your mind to do the same.
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Oh Lord, heap mysteries upon us, but entwine our work with laughter low.
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