Everyone experiences challenges, pain, loss, and setbacks. How can we look at our disappointments and hurts and still maintain a positive perspective on life? How do we increase our resiliency when we’re going through turbulent changes?
The story of Kisa Gotami
A Buddhist story, “The Mustard Seed,” shows that we don’t suffer independently or differently from others. This story is a favorite of the Oneness guides of India. As the story goes, Kisa Gotami, a woman whose son has died, is in deep suffering. In her grief, she carries her son’s body to all the people in her village and asks everyone for help. Finally a villager sends her to see the Buddha, to whom she cries out, “Master, please help me! Give me medicine to cure my child and bring him back to life!”
“Bring me a handful of mustard seeds that were taken from a house where no death has occurred and no grief experienced,” the Buddha replies. “It must be a home where no one has lost a parent, friend, spouse, or child. Then you will be free from suffering.”
So Kisa Gotami searches for a family that has not experienced death. She cannot find such a family, of course. At each home in her village, she is reminded that everyone has gone through the same grief she is experiencing. There is no house where a beloved person has not died. Everyone has suffered as she is suffering. Finally, she realizes that her suffering is not unique. Now she knows that her situation cannot be changed. Since death happens in all families, she can no longer remain selfish in her grief. At last, because she sees that she is not alone, Kisa Gotami releases her suffering. She buries her child in the forest and returns to the Buddha to take comfort.
This story is a lesson about shared suffering. It’s about understanding that we don’t suffer differently from other people. Like Kisa Gotami, we have experienced joy, happiness, pain, and fear. None of these are new, and our suffering is not special. Suffering is common to humanity because no one leads an independent existence. In the New Testament writings, the mustard seed represents faith. Everyone has the same emotions, even the same habits that we use to avoid suffering. We are intimately related and connected through suffering, and we share it collectively. We can no more own suffering than we can own the stars.
Your suffering is not unique
Your suffering is not unique, nor are you alone in your suffering. Suffering is shared, nobody owns it, and we even suffer the same way. Suffering is the same for everybody, because it is always the same mechanism at work. Since we share the same mind and consciousness, why would our suffering be different?
There is no one on this planet that will escape suffering. When we resist suffering, we dissociate from the experience, we blame others, or we set up escape routes in our mind to distract us. We’re afraid to experience suffering, but if you want to be finished with it, then you’ll have to allow those feelings to come. Resistance can be its own brand of suffering. This is because your resistance will keep the experience coming back again and again.
If hurt is present, don’t create some explanation for it. Experience the hurt completely and let yourself go straight through the experience. Give yourself permission to feel these things just as if you would if joy were in front of you. Don’t be afraid. Suffering is just another experience. It comes to an end. When you embrace it and move though it, you won’t get stuck in it.
I hope you enjoyed these tips on being with ease with yourself. I’d love to hear from you, so please do share your comments and personal stories below.
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© Charlene M Proctor and The Goddess Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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