Acceptance of Suffering

Buddha taught that life is suffering. He also taught why that was, but today I want to focus on the first piece, the simple declaration of what is true. Life is suffering. I’ve written in countless posts about how I can’t understand the suffering in the world and that other people’s suffering causes me pain. Reading IF and pregnancy loss blogs fills me with incredible sadness and I frequently become wrapped up in the unfairness of life.

Now that I have a daughter I’m acutely aware of how much I have to lose. The thought of living life without my daughter inspires a physical and emotion devastation that I cannot fathom and surely would not survive. I could spend my entire life worrying that my daughter might fall ill, be kidnapped, injure herself, or be afflicted by some other horror. I could easily torture myself with the “what ifs” and the “what thens”.

I could also try to make sense of the pain and suffering of all those around me, of the women who have lost children, of the children who have lost parents, of the people who have lost loved ones, of all the countless losses shouldered by people around the world.

But none of that would get my anywhere, because life is full of suffering and no pondering that suffering makes it go away.

I think, for the first time, I’m realizing that.

How can I just realize something I’ve written about countless times?

I suppose it’s not that I’m just realizing that life if full of suffering, but that I’m accepting the suffering without judgement.

In the past I’ve faced the suffering of life kicking and screaming, hurling recriminations and bellowing that it’s not fair.

And while it remains unfair, the suffering in life has to be accepted.

For some reason today I can accept that life is full of suffering without it causing me to suffer. I can just accept it for what it is.

And while the idea of losing my daughter still paralyzes me in ways I cannot articulate, I feel acceptance that it is a possibility. Not resignation, but acceptance. Of course I’d still try to move heaven and Earth to save my little girl from any harm, but the uncertainty of her wellbeing no longer holds me hostage.

I don’t know what has brought about this acceptance. I don’t know if I’ll be able to embrace it tomorrow or the next day. I do know that it brings with it a peace that I cherish and want to nourish.

I have let life lead me away from my practices of mindfulness, acceptance and loving kindness. One of my goals in the new year will be to reincorporate them into my daily life. I intend to write many more Mindful Monday posts in the months to come.

Until then, I accept the suffering of this world. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel the pain of others and their losses, but it does mean I no longer writhe against them.

5 responses

  1. This is an interesting post. I had such an idyllic life up to my losses but I always had in the back of my mind that something really terrible was going to happen to balance out the good. I was constantly on edge for whatever bad thing might be around the corner. Now that some truly terrible things have happened, I’m NOT more at peace, actually. Instead, I wonder if that was the tip of the bad iceberg. This is not something with me all the time, but it manifests when, say, the phone rings at an unexpected time. Or I’m traveling without my DH. Etc. I could use some acceptance.

  2. thanks for this post … it seems like our culture has little capacity to recognize, accept, and give us tools to help us through suffering, but it is real and part of life. Kind of like death – there are cultures and religions with practices that recognize it, give people tools and rituals to help with it … but overall it is a subject we shy away from and prefer to kick under the carpet.

    Atlhough I come from a different religious viewpoint (christianity) I look forward to learning more from you about how to accept, and live peacefully with, suffering. I, too, tend to get into the ‘it’s not fair’ mindset and instead of focusing on the things for which I can be grateful.

  3. I love this. It nails it. Writhing against suffering is exactly it, for me. I have been focusing my practice right now in sitting in suffering without having to escape it. Staying present is the key right now for me, but it is not my nature. I heard someone say recently that living in the past is depression and living in the future is anxiety. That made sense to me. I have done this really silly, but effective, thing every time I find myself either in the future or the past. I just stop and stare at my feet. This is right where I am. I try to take in my surroundings without judgment. There is a chair. There is a desk. Anyway, thank you for this post. I cannot believe I haven’t been reading your blog. It is now in my reader and I will be here reading. XO

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