Sunday, November 13, 2011

What to do about your suffering

"not to struggle against the pain in our life"

These were the turning words in the above talk I read recently on a British friend's blog.

I had been having various kinds of suffering or discomfort or pain---
disappointment in a Teacher . . . a widening distance from Zen . . . the pain from the slowly healing broken arm, the real handicaps of not driving, not painting, not cooking much (you try it with your nondominant hand) . . . the side effect of the pain medication in demotivating me. . . the anxiety of the bladder infections coming back, whether surgery is going to be necessary after all. And a second-hand criticism.

It went a lot of places for me. It went to how sensitive I am to criticism, to rejection, how thin-skinned.  How that affects my willingness to send my poetry out.  Then back to how I became thin-skinned, my father's relentless criticism of me, my mother's lack of caring.  It just went all over the place, though I sure didn't want it to.  I've had a hard year, the increasing loneliness of age and disability.  And I was in the grip of a depressing infection at that time.

So I struggled around fighting all this mental and emotional crap.  How could I alleviate my pain? And I didn't have any answers.  I wasn't talking myself out of my upset.

So for some reason - the moon was full - I was ready to hear what Pema said in the talk above.  Yes, we do have suffering.  Inevitably.  Sometimes people hurt and betray us.  We age.  We die.  People and animals we love die.  We are in pain from physical conditions, mental conditions, and maybe we're always going to be.  The point is, relax into it.  There it is.  There is no fixing a great many things, no cure.  You don't have to like your suffering, your pain.  But you don't get anywhere struggling against it.  There.
[p.s. Yes, I have another (or the same) bladder infection. Started antibiotic today.]


  1. I relate to so much of what you write in this post! I've been reading a lot about Narcissistic personality disorder as of late and realize that I get sucked into these relationships all to easily. I am always the giver that gets nothing in return and it drains me, sucks up all my emotional energy and leaves me with nothing by the time I finally decided to end the relationship. I'm learning how to avoid that patter, how to not be co-dependent but it isn't easy.

    I also am disenchanted with Zen. I connect a lot more to Tibetan Buddhism. Zen, for me, is so empty (and not in a good way). Just not my cup of proverbial tea.

    I hope your health is holding up and your suffering is bearable. I hope you are able to find pockets of relief in your days.

  2. It's so nice to hear from you. I have been feeling uneasy about sharing so much-it leaves me vulnerable. (But to what?) I do it in the hope of connecting with someone like you...You may have noticed me writing about Chogyam Trungpa's writings from time to time. Soon I may be writing about Sufi, which is entering my life right when I need it.

  3. gods...this is timely.

    Sorry to hear about your friends, and I know exactly what you mean when you speak of one incident resulting in a memory snowballing effect. And now off I go to ponder my own thin skin...

  4. I hope you are beginning to feel better. Seems you have reached a good place to listen to Pema. She's rather good, isn't she?

    I am glad you are sharing. Your openness helps me, at the very least. I have no doubt it helps a great many others.

    I do hope you get some rest from your pain very soon. You certainly deserve to. x P