Monday, January 5, 2009

Overcoming Pain and Suffering in a Recession

One of the greatest challenges facing us today is understanding how terrible it feels to have so much pain and suffering in our lives. The Buddhist write and discuss suffering quite extensively. It is actually the cornerstone of their teachings. The Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Muslims have similar teachings.

It seems clear to me, that for all the major religious organizations of the world to base their teachings on suffering, it must be very difficult to overcome. So difficult that, after thousands of years, we are still seeking answers. Everyone -- from the rich and powerful to the poor and powerless -- is searching for ways to overcome pain and suffering.

Why do people decide to suffer when we don't have to? Freedom means to accept your behavior as who you are right now. If you dislike it, and if it's causing you great pain and suffering, you can do something about this.

For us to claim freedom, we must start where we are right not. We must stop robbing ourselves of freedom by releasing all the secrets in our lives. To do this small task, allows us to stop stealing small pieces of our emotional freedom.

For me, my pain and suffering is personal. I recognize that I am the one responsible for the thoughts causing me to suffer. I also recognize that I have the power to change the way I think. When I acknowledge and accept that my thoughts and I are one, then I can do something about my feelings. Now I'm ready to change.

Nevertheless, many of us only talk about change. After a few days, we begin to numb ourselves with distractions so we don't have to face the seemingly unpleasant tasks of changing our behavior. We nurture our distractions to television, food, wine, beer, and drugs into thoughts that make us feel like victims.

Within a short period of time, these thoughts frequently morph into victim fantasies of impending layoffs, depleting savings accounts, or fears of not succeeding in life. They become scary.

From our fears, we create our secrets. It's an easy transition from using our distractions to hide our fears. Regardless of how we try to disguise our distractions as fun, entertainment, and happiness, they are responsible for the pain and suffering we feel. When the fun disappears in our lives, we can see the pain and suffering more clearly.

Similarly, it is our interpretations of the utilitarian value of distractions that cause us to hide them from others. We don't want just anyone to know what types of television programs or movies we watch, nor the types of books we read, or don't read.

Whenever we have secrets, they usually are things we don't want others to know about us, or someone close to us. We suffer with our parents, friends, and family secrets too. We not only feel their pain and suffering, it's magnified tenfold or even twenty fold in our own pain and suffering.

What are some of the things our family and friends like to keep secret from others? One thing that immediately comes to mind is an affair with someone other than their spouse. Some others are job layoffs, foreclosures, loss of retirement benefits, AIDS, family member in prison, incest, drug addiction, pregnancy, abortion, racism, embezzlement, homosexuality, rape, sex with prostitutes, and so forth.

Meanwhile, while we aid and abet our family and friends in keeping their secrets, we continue wondering when someone is going to find out about them. We know from watching some prominent person on television being publicly excoriated for one of their dirty secrets that the same can happen to us.

In some instances, we even empathize with the publicly disgraced victims as their voices quiver, hands tremble, and tears well in their eyes. How sad, we think. How could he or she do something like that? I would never do something like that. Oops, I am doing that. I've got to be more careful.

In some cases, we even admire their courage for coming forth. They seem so relieved now that everyone knows about their secret. From the pedophile, to politicians sleeping with prostitutes, fondling young kids, or having homosexual intercourse with strangers in public restrooms, or even in alleys, they want us to believe that because they were exposed, they are freed from the pain and suffering.

This type of public discourse does not free someone from pain and suffering. The judgments we have about the power of our secrets to harm us are the true cause of our pain and suffering.

When we are willing to finally accept that it's our pain and suffering and not someone else, then we free ourselves without the need for public exposure and scorn.

It's your pain. Claim it, and change it.

The book "Seeds from the Ashes" release date was delayed, and is now coming to life in 2009. To receive a book, please visit your online book store or our web site