Open to Suffering

Why do we find it difficult to bear suffering? Why aren’t we more open to suffering? A simple response is that we are surprised when there is suffering. But we should not be surprised, because we are still not enlightened, and naturally as we are not enlightened we are bound to suffer. We should be surprised if there was no suffering! And when we are surprised what happens? We give it a big minus. Only I suffer. No one else suffers in the way that I am suffering, and I know in my life I will continue to suffer. So we can create a big story out of the suffering that we are having. In this situation how can we be open, how can we not be affected when there is suffering? So this is the beauty of the Buddha’s teaching if you can see suffering as a Noble Truth.

I’d like to offer a very interesting tool. You should wait with an open mind thinking: Let me experience the First NobleTruth of the Buddha. So unlike in the past, not being closed to suffering, but waiting for suffering to arise. One thing is, as we found out, that when we are really open to suffering it doesn’t arise!

The second point is: when we are being open to suffering, waiting for it to arise, then we are not surprised by it. And when suffering does arise if you can say: Very interesting; I’m very grateful because now that it has come I can work with it. Please try this tool and see what a difference it makes when suffering comes. To put it in another way, now we see it as something extremely negative, but in the way that I am suggesting it is something very positive. And if you can, at that moment ask yourself the question: What can I learn from this suffering? In what way can I use the Buddha’s tools? In what way can I use the Buddha’s medicine in working with this situation?

And this brings up, as I said, the Second NobleTruth. Here you will see very clearly that suffering is due to this idea you have that something that is happening should not happen. So if you can develop this positive attitude you will be really open to suffering. And then you can really make use of suffering to find a way out of suffering. So it is simply changing your attitude towards suffering. When you change the attitude you see suffering in an entirely different way.