I Am Thankful For Suffering

I should be waking up in a matter or hours, however it is impossible to wake up if you were never asleep in the first place. Tonight is one of those sleepless nights. A little blurb before I start writing is the announcement that this is my 50th post! I Never thought I had so much to say in less than a year but I have managed to surprise myself. I have had the chance to see the changes and growth in myself within a few months through this blog concocted on a sad Sunday night last time around Christmas. So let’s pop a bottle of nonalcoholic grape juice and celebrate the 50th post before the actual post starts.

Now I begin.

I want to talk about my homeboy Buddha. Let me start by telling you about his life.. Back in the day (way way back in the day to be even more correct) there was a prince named Siddhartha Gautama, he had the “perfect” life. He lived in a palace of luxury and ease. He only saw the best of things, and not because of his mindset of being a positive person but rather because that was all he knew. Yet, with all that he had he desired more, not in the materialistic sense but a desire for spirituality and understanding. He left the palace in search of knowledge. Guess what he found? Suffering. His eyes were opened to human misery, and he saw that not even royalty could protect him from disease, pain, heartbreak and death. It’s inevitable. This is where Buddha became Buddha, “The Awakened One.” He became enlightened by his journey of seeing pain and suffering and allowing that to teach him understanding. The thing that I love most about Buddha is his message that he brought throughout India and now to the world, he taught of having compassion for every human being. Notice the mention of “every”… not most, or your family or just your friends. No, he said every human being. What a wonderful man, he really knows what’s up.

Now that I shared that story you probably are wondering why I felt the need to write about Buddha and how it relates to now. So, I shall tell you. This week has been a hard one for a lot of people. Never in my life have I had so many people come to me and tell me of their struggles. I’ve had friends talk to me about losing their boyfriend to a mission or to the war in Afghanistan, I’ve watched tears fall over the changes of leaving home and going off to college without support, I’ve held friends as they mourn over seeing their former love move on to someone else, I’ve seen friends devastated over feelings of hopelessness about their falling apart family hundreds of miles away and I have cried with friends about losing a parent to cancer. This week I’ve seen more suffering and pain than I ever have in my few seventeen years of life. And I would be lying if I said those events didn’t bring me down as well. I cried each time and wished I could take it all away, I wished we never felt this kind of pain and suffering. But through it I realized something that I have thought of before but never truly appreciated until now. And that is that suffering together makes people closer.

I’ve always known the quote “wisdom comes only through suffering”-AESCHYLUS. But what I find even more truthful is that true friendship and understanding comes from suffering together. Now I know that kinda sounds like the whole “misery loves company” but no, that is not the point I am trying to make whatsoever. What I want to show is that through sharing our pain and suffering can we only truly create a bond and real understanding for one another. Because suffering strips away the superficial differences between each other, even those differences we have built our lives on.

Without suffering there would be no understanding, and also no Buddha… and that would be one world not worth living in. Think of Buddha and how suffering opened his mind and allowed him to find enlightenment. Now how are we any difference and less deserving of that. Through our own sufferings and the sufferings others we learn to understand, we learn to love and we gain friendships and see people as human beings not as a caste system or income bracket. We see fear, insecurity, heartbreak, and loneliness, and as a world we deem these things as bad. But what if we view them as essential feelings that bring us closer to enlightenment and to one another? or if we viewed them as the only way this world can become united and learn to love one another as our own? What if suffering really is the key to not only enlightenment but to happiness? wahhhh, ponder that one.

So, tonight I am thankful for suffering, I am thankful for loneliness and sadness because without them we would be a self-absorbed, close minded, and ununited world. I am thankful that I have been able to suffer with others and hold them as my partners in life like I would with my family, and feel their hearts against mine allowing us to become as one. So this Thanksgivings when my turn comes up to say what I’m thankful for my answer will be: I am thankful for suffering. Imagine the looks I’ll get with that one…

“To look into the eyes of anyone who has suffered deeply, or is now suffering, is to find yourself moved into at least a momentary relationship with them that is immensely tempering of your usual self-absorptions. Perhaps glimpsing that ‘suffering will bring its own rewards’ is enough to loosen the stranglehold of fear that most of us have when we contemplate even the idea of suffering, often without realizing that such fear itself is creating suffering and holding us at some distance from living fully.” — Excerpt from Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love

~Katie

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