The Fruits of Suffering

One would literally have to be living on a desert island to ignore the fact that growing numbers of people are suffering in these times.  As human systems break down and the Earth’s natural systems become increasingly unstable, the collective toll of suffering continues to mount.  Physical loss is compounded by anxiety about the future, and by a growing sense of pessimism about material life.

Fruits of SufferingDeep layers of alienation, long muted by myriad drugs and alcohol, are now surfacing and leading to acts of desperation.  A pervasive sense of despair has become especially evident in young people.  Children and adolescents are harming themselves and others in ways that were once unimaginable.  Some are clearly crying out for help; others appear to be cut off from everyone and everything.

The wisdom teachings explain that when we identify ourselves with our bodies and with things of the material world, we experience life in isolation—from one another and from the larger whole.  We see ourselves like the individual seeds of a pomegranate, failing to recognize that we are part of a greater life.  This illusory sense of isolation and separation is one of the basic causes of human suffering.  The “remedy”—inherent in the unfoldment of human consciousness—is awakening to the essential relatedness of all of life.

The growing experience of pain and alienation on the material level appears to have accelerated the pace our global awakening, as it has led countless thousands to search for the meaning of life.  All who undertake the quest for the light of higher truth inevitably experience the healing that comes with reconnecting—with one's own soul, with the Source of all Life, with other human beings, and all living creatures.  On this inner quest, the light begins to dawn that we are each an intrinsic part of a greater Life whose divine essence is love.  We are not alone.

The fact that ever rising numbers of human beings are awakening to their higher nature and expressing soul qualities in the world is a great cause for hope in these difficult times.  The unprecedented scale of human suffering around the globe has brought forth an equally unprecedented outpouring of love and compassion.  The heart of humanity is opening wider and, in the light of higher awareness, we are discovering the deeper causes of suffering and how to heal them. 

In the Ageless Wisdom, we are told that pain serves a higher purpose.  In a chapter of When the Soul Awakens entitled “The Fruits of Suffering, we wrote:”

"In esoteric teachings, suffering has a clear objective.  It is viewed as a prod to spiritual growth.  The purpose of pain is to rouse us from the illusion of our separate, form-based, ego identities and awaken the true, spiritual being within—the soul, the part of us that recognizes the essential unity of all life.  The human constitution is such that when a person is in pain, unable to function normally, he or she is prompted to look more deeply at the inner side of life."

Each of us can learn to reap the fruits of suffering by viewing life from a higher plane of awareness—through the lens of the higher Self, often called 'the Observer.'  Toward this end, we have drawn a number of practices from the wisdom teachings that may be helpful.  Whether you are experiencing personal pain, or identifying with the pain of humanity and other kingdoms of nature, we hope that the simple practices presented here will serve you on your path.


Practices for Reaping the Fruits of Suffering

  Take the stance of the observer—the stance of the Soul—by learning to see your life unfold from a place of detachment.  From that place you can practice dispassion, utilizing the mind to calm the emotions, and learn to discern true from false, and the real from the unreal.  This practice will help you determine the best course of action in a stressful situation.

  Look for the lesson to be learned in any challenge confronting you.  If the pain is emotional, manifesting as a conflict with another person, learn to willingly accept responsibility for your part, in the knowledge that life is being mirrored back to you from seeds sown in the past.

  Practice the Way of the Buddha and the Way of the Christ.  Be “a little buddha” to the people in your life by practicing right understanding, right intention, right action, right living, and right speech.  Practice the Way of the Christ by forgiving others and learning to express the inclusive love of the soul.

  Look for meaning in every event and circumstance—no matter how difficult.  Practice “reading the book of life” by recognizing the symbolic nature of everything and everyone you encounter.  All events, especially synchronicities, have hidden meanings that can shed light on your situation.

♦  Practice the Presence.  Stay aligned with your higher Self, to the degree possible.  Ask for higher guidance from your Soul and from Those who seek to guide your soul’s unfoldment from the inner planes.  By learning to see “Spirit at work in the midst of things,” you'll come to realize that all that happens has a higher purpose of which the soul is aware.

♦  When crisis occurs, look for the opportunities— for openings and breakthroughs that can steer your life in a new direction.  Take an attitude of positive expectancy and you will attract the guidance and resources needed for the next phase of your soul’s unfoldment.

  No matter how difficult things become, recognize that the best way to transcend personal suffering is to serve others.  The true Self is connected to all Selves; we are literally one in spirit.  When we serve others in this awareness, the light of the soul radiates outward and love flows in ways that heal ourselves and others.

♦  Take the long view and remember:  "This too shall pass."  Keep in mind that there is a divine plan unfolding in both our individual and collective lives.  Though we may not see its purpose in the present moment, in due time we surely will.

April 2010

See also:

Eye of the Soul

Synchronicity and the Soul

The Yoga of Now

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