Suffering is a funny thing because, not literally, but it’s something we see all around us, but don’t necessarily know how to change. I was watching American Idol last night and they had their annual Idol Gives Back episode. They told amazing stories about hope, compassion, and collaboration.
If we follow the story of the Buddha, it wasn’t until he was an adult that he encountered suffering. His life had been sheltered and full of privilege, but once he left the safety and security of the palace walls the reality of life, and it hit hard. He endured a tremendous amount of suffering in order to achieve enlightenment and his perseverance had been the north star for many a follower.
What we get from The Buddha is that we all suffer. I know that you believe your suffering began when you were diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness, but you probably were suffering on more subtle levels prior to crossing the illness threshold. What causes suffering? Our attachments are at the root of our suffering. I bet you’re wondering what you’re attached to.
We’re all attached to our identity as a person who has their health. That saying, “but I was healthy before I was sick”, says it all. The fact that we live with what was instead of what is causes suffering. This isn’t about accepting a health challenge, but knowing and understanding your health challenge and the actions requires to attain health and healing.
There’s a famous saying, “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional”. For many facing a chronic or life-threatening illness it’s the misery level that can be controlled, but we place it in the category of something happening to us, instead of us colluding with it. What do you want to change about your level of misery? How would you like to change your story? Can you escape from suffering?