“most suffering, here in the US, is psychological”
It is everyone’s personal responsibility to end the suffering in our lives. No one can do it for us. Some may assist us, but it is we who must put in the effort to make it happen. And it is the most spiritual thing anyone can do. Actually ending the suffering in our life will draw us closer and closer to the truth and whether or not you would label it as such, that will put you firmly on a spiritual path to your own awakening.
There are two basic types of suffering. The first is actual physical suffering caused by discomfort, pain in the body for whatever reason. This is the least common type of suffering, some of which can be avoided or healed, and some that cannot. The most common and prevalent kind of suffering is psychological suffering. This kind of suffering afflicts nearly everyone and is the most difficult to eliminate, and I will explain why that is true in a minute. But once we truly understand how this kind of suffering operates in our lives, we are on the road to freedom from it. I think we have to understand it first and then practice that understanding, bit by bit, until we begin to eliminate suffering.
Psychological suffering could be defined as the difference between what is true and what we expect or want to be true. The expectation or desire that I refer to here is always something housed in our mind, our thoughts. So, it is a mental problem. It may seem, on the surface, to be a problem in our environment, relationships, or other areas, but the real problem lies in our minds.
I have a friend who is extremely concerned about the next presidential election. She is very worried about the possibility that Donald Trump will win again. And I can tell that this expectation and desire is causing her a lot of suffering. Every time she reads something in the news that goes against Trump, she is elated. But just the opposite occurs when she reads or hears something that may indicate his popularity or possibility of being reelected. This is a very simple but powerful example of psychological suffering. And I have spoken to her about it, in an attempt to help her see that her suffering lies within, but so far she refuses or is unable to accept that understanding. And this leads us to the reason why it is often so difficult for us to let go of expectations and desires that cause us so much pain. I can tell by communicating with her that she has become firmly identified with the notion that Trump is a bad person. Her identity has made it a ‘personal issue.’ Now just the thought of him winning causes her to suffer with fear of the future.
And as all identities go, we feel stronger and bigger when we get reassurance from the world around us that we are ‘right.’ Of course, we feel threatened and belittled and ‘less than’ when situations or people around us conflict with what we believe and want, or when we feel we are wrong. But I can see that her identity with this particular issue is not going to change. I could suggest to her that she abandon this belief and just stop caring about it, but that would mean a loss of her identity, something that most us dread. This loss of identity is the one thing that unconsciously most of us dread more than anything else. People have fought and killed others over it and done the most horrendous and unimaginable things, just to keep their precious ‘identity.’ So, with my friend, I realized that she was very attached to her beliefs and desires in this area and it was off limits – no point in trying to show her a way out of her suffering.
I once took an inspiring and motivational training program and they had a series of great questions they asked us participants, questions that helped bring our attention to what was real and important in our lives. One of those questions was something like ‘would you rather get everything you want from life or be right?’ They portrayed this human desire to ‘be right’ as one of several great fallacies and cause of suffering. And I found that question to be so powerful for me. Just pondering on that could change the course of someone’s life forever. Another way of putting this would be ‘how many things do you need to be right about, that are taking away all your happiness?’
My father was a Gemini 2 of Clubs. And as many 2 of Clubs people go, he seemed to have this perpetual need to be right, and especially to be right about how bad things are in the world. And I have seen this same trait in myself, as a Cancer Sun sign Queen of Diamonds I have the 2 of Clubs as my Cosmic Moon. It acts a bit like another planetary ruling card for me. In my dad’s later years he realized that he had a pessimistic attitude. He would say, ‘there I go again, being negative.’ It was a big breakthrough for him. He had never really seen it before. The fact that he could admit it and joke about it was a big transformation for him. And he didn’t have this realization until he was in his late seventies.
So, the question for each of us is how long are we going to allow our suffering to continue, suffering born entirely out of mental constructs that we created. We have to have some compassion for ourselves in this process. As my spiritual teacher says, we must be ‘tender’ with ourselves. These mental constructs which are comprised of beliefs, points of view, attitudes and what we might even call ‘truths’ were each created by us, in order to protect us from the harms and evils in the world. We adopt these things hoping that doing so will alleviate our suffering, not knowing that we have created a new way for suffering to get to us.
As a Jack of Clubs Decanate Ruler, I have had so much invested in being right, about nearly everything. I even used to tell my closest friends, ‘I am always right.’ I felt like, using my mind’s great capacity and resourcefulness, that I had figured out how the world worked and the best path to take in most every situation that would protect me from being cheated, robbed, or ripped off. I had no idea, until later, that all these ‘truths’ I had arrived at were each a wall I had constructed, one that separated me from life and things that really made me happy. I had a great defensive shield but it shielded much of the good in my life. And I was a great arguer or pundit. No one could out debate me or talk me out of my stances. It was never apparent to me just how much fear was behind all this mental protection I had created, until after four failed marriages I began to take a closer look at my mental structures.
Having any mental position in life is a set up, even though we don’t usually see it. We are setting ourselves up to first of all, have enemies. Anyone who is opposed to our mental position becomes our enemy. We say, on the surface that we want peace. But that is actually a lie. We want to fight with others to achieve our version of peace. Our egos sneakily got us into fighting and fighting is not peace. Every belief system, be it political, religious, diet and health related or any other area of life, automatically makes enemies of others. It is Maya (the goddess of illusion) way of keeping us bound to untruth, all the while causing us to belief we are in contact with ‘the truth.’ Just ask yourself, who are you fighting with. Who are you resisting, judging, comparing, evaluating? Who threatens your position? Who agrees with you and makes you feel stronger and safer? It is all illusion, all bullshit. You are stuck in the Matrix and you do not know it.
I can say now that most of us have nearly countless beliefs and mental structures that run our lives. And we suffer enormously because of them. I have been able to release some of mine, and it has been a slow and painful process. But I was supported by a great spiritual teacher who kept pointing me to the truth, week by week. And I can see that my life now has a great deal less suffering in it. I can see myself not being triggered by as many things, and when I am triggered I am glad to see it and work at seeing the truth underneath it. I can say that I have let go of many of my treasured beliefs and I feel much lighter and happier in general because of it. I also know that at any given moment another of my precious mental structures could be threatened by some circumstance. I am ready to see what is going on. I now consider the times when I am triggered like this to be ‘gifts’ of spirit for which I am grateful. I can also say that I no longer have any beliefs regarding race, religion or politics that need defending. There are no enemies out there. The problem, if there is one, is in me.
In the end, the word truth gets examined very carefully. What is really true? From where I am standing, no belief is. So, if all beliefs were released and let go of, what would be left? Who would you or I be? Just the thought of this will scare the hell out of your false image of yourself. It would be like death itself. And psychologically, that is the death that all ego enslaved people are most afraid of. But it is also the one true destination of the awake person, the person no longer bound by false identities. This is the true path to awakening.