January 27    

Today's quotation:

The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.

Thomas Merton

Today's Meditation:

I think that most of the trials and sufferings that we go through are intensified because of the fear we have that they'll never end.  If I have a slight cold, it's easy for me to deal with it because it's not that intense and I know that it will pass soon.  If I have the flu and I'm in intense pain, fear that the pain will continue kicks in, so I'm no longer suffering just from the sickness, but also from the fear that I have.

If a friend betrays me, that often sparks new fears of others betraying me, as well as doubts and fears about my own self-worth.

Ironically enough, my strength to overcome both the suffering and the fear comes through acceptance.  My situation is as it is, and unless I cause it to do so, it won't bring on any further suffering.  There is a subtle, quiet strength in acceptance that helps people I know to get through almost anything that happens to them.

The strongest people I know are the ones that fight the least--they don't need to fight, for life and its foibles don't get them down.  They maintain their balance and cheerfulness because they see in every trial a lesson; they see in every bit of pain something new to learn.  Once an affliction becomes a teacher, we don't need to fear it any longer, do we?

Suffering is a part of life, but the degree to which we suffer is pretty much up to us.  We make of our situations what we make of them; the power to decide to make something positive of a seemingly negative occurrence is all ours.  What will we do with that power?

Questions to consider:

Think back to a time when you've suffered greatly.  How much did your own mind contribute to your suffering?

When are you the strongest--when you're fighting something that's inevitable, or when you accept it and maintain your peace of mind so that you can be more helpful to others in your life?

Do all bad things pass eventually?  If we know this to be true, do we need to fight all negative things, or let them run their course?
For further thought:

Strength is a capacity for endurance.  One of the dividends of suffering is the universal discovery the we possess a strength within us we never knew we had.  Navigating through a difficult episode not only shows us that inner strength is there but convinces us it will always be there to serve us in the future.  Overcoming gives us an assurance of personal confidence and value that far exceeds what we thought we possessed before our struggles began.

Dennis Wholey

more thoughts and ideas on suffering



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