Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Prayerfully Sitting with Suffering


Sitting with the Suffering

By Grace Opened to Grace

Jan 18, 2016


All is Welcome Here

Living in Love beyond Beliefs

Day One Hundred and Thirty

Although my students often put me up on a pedestal and think I've figured out something wonderful, I tell them all the time: my path was the path of failure. Everything I tried failed. ... I failed at meditating well; I failed figuring out the truth. Everything I ever used to succeed spiritually failed. But at the moment of failure, that's when everything opens up.

*Adyashanti. The End of Your World.

Many of us come to the point we want a new lease on life, another chance, that new beginning. But we may resist what is most vital to receive it. We may resist the truth that we have failed. This does not mean we are a failure. We have failed. Grace has lead us to fail, for Grace. The paradox, then, is failure is seen differently, is seen as good news, as the very compost out of which newness arises. This is somewhat like Jesus' disciples looking at their Teacher on the Cross, and thinking, "Well, now this is over. Back to our old lives." But it was not. They could not see the life in the Cross, they could see only death, regardless of how their Teacher had taught them otherwise.

*Arem Nahariim-Samadhi

* * *

I think most of us come to some sense of spiritual awakening or beginning again through mostly failure. Some may have another experience. I simply have not seen persons generally awaken to Grace largely through success, through good fortune. I am not saying this is the way it has to be, I am saying this is how it is generally. And this I see from looking into varied traditions over centuries and widely divergent places, as well as working with persons in varied contexts for many years. Likewise, I have seen where suffering seemed to have no influence on persons spiritually, at all. So, there simply is no certainty that suffering will or will not lead one to an opening to Grace, by Grace.

Still, something about suffering has the marked potential to open us up, break us open. This is intimated in the story of Jesus' crucifixion. And we see this same in the Buddha awakening. Yes, we see Buddha in peace under the Bodhi Tree - another Tree of Life, like the Cross -, but before that peace was years of immense suffering, and trying to escape suffering and failing to escape. Finally, he just sat with it all, faced it, and trusted more in the goodness of Life than in suffering. So, he sits, in peace, quietly. And, so, Jesus comes forth from the tomb, quietly, peacefully.

I used to warn persons, when they began my meditation teachings. Basically, I would caution, "If you are only looking for peace, and not pain, you may wish to consider quitting the class, now." I, also, simply cannot put into words, for example, the pain I have sensed taking religious vows has led into within my life, as well as the depths of joy. I mean, when you say "Yes," that "Yes," if you really mean it, is going to grab you and take you somewhere. And Grace is not mainly interested in your comfort, but your evolution, your growth, your growing intimacy with Love and capacity to love. I do think the path gets easier, as Grace allows the burning away of the roots of suffering within us, and as we grow in cooperation with Life.

This all may sound negative, but it is not. There comes a point the suffering is good news. It is like you say, "Okay, come suffering, I am ready." You know you can relax. You have seen it does not go away, and that you cannot simply flee it. When you see this, and that you can sit with it in compassion, not trying to wear a mask of being too holy or awakened to be human, to hurt, to suffer, and, yes, cry, you sit gracefully, and you feel fully. You, like Christ and the Buddha, no longer trust in the authority of suffering, but in the goodness of Life. You no longer trust all the stories of pain, but you are willing to allow Grace to undo them. You are no longer into the blame game. Or the "if only" program. Then, there is the real possibility an opening occurs, and Life enlarges within and through you. The suffering drops away, and by Grace you are led more fully into Grace, for Grace.

For many of us, this process may occur over and over, at intervals, as we progressively heal. We cannot predict when it will be over, or when a new coming of the inner pain will arise. We say "Yes" to it, when we want to move beyond it more than wanting to run from it. We are no longer looking for some spiritual or psychological technique to save us from the suffering. We are not asking God, or anyone, to save us. Then, we are open to be saved, for Grace has been silently working to move us to that ripeness, that receptivity within our sense of powerlessness.

old monk

*Move cursor over pictures for creator of photo and title.


Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Prayerfully Sitting with Suffering

©Brian Wilcox 2019