Saturday, March 21, 2009

Expanding my world view



According to the cosmology of Reya, the multiverse is an intensely complicated fabric in which everything is interconnected, and in which everything is necessary, even if I don't understand why. In other words, I don't believe in superfluousness.

When I'm feeling generous, there's a place at my table for everything, including what's painful and troubling. I see clients every day at work who are dealing with awful diseases or working through unimaginable issues, yet somehow they are benefiting from these experiences, becoming wiser, more compassionate, more self accepting. It is because of these amazing people that I've had to adjust my cosmology of trouble. Without their problems, would they be as luminous, humane? How else could they accumulate such incredible wisdom? Does wisdom ever accumulate through ease?

I believe that life is a precious existence, as the Buddhists say. I believe we work through so much karma while we inhabit our beautiful bodies. This morning I'm thinking that learning things "the hard way" is part of what we're supposed to do. Trouble is a part of our destiny.

As you can see, I'm feeling generous today. One disclaimer: I am not in favor of trouble or pain. I'm not thinking we need to get out there and look for trouble, oh no. Plenty of trouble comes our way organically. And I'm not happy to see anyone suffer, not EVER.

But maybe there's a reason for all our suffering. Maybe it serves a purpose. It has for my clients, at least. And it is at the center of the stories of Passover and Easter. Maybe suffering is redemptive. Do you think?

38 comments:

Auntie, aka cagny said...

good morning r,
how is jake doing?
there is something about SPRING that gets us to rethink everything in our lives.
as always, great pics.

Auntie, aka cagny said...

oooooooh, i was first!
the early bird gets the worm.
:D

Adrianne said...

"Yes" to your question. There was a wonderful quote posted at the gym this week that dealt with this very point -- I wish that I could remember it well enough to repeat it here.

When I reflect on my life, I always am struck by how things that seemed really awful at the time invariably turned out to be blessings in disguise. In most cases, I did not realize the blessing aspect until many years after the fact. Now when trouble or pain crosses my path, I try to remind myself that it really *is* all for the greater good -- that there really is a why and how, even if I can't see it yet.

Seeing trouble and pain as a path to greater strength and wisdom gives all of life -- the good and the bad -- both a greater meaning and a greater ease.

As someone I love very dearly (that would be *you*!) would say, "I salute you!"

Adrianne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cynthia said...

Sure, I'm with you on expanding our vision and seeing how this (difficult) situation might be redemptive.
I embrace the Buddhist philosophy, too. And as Adrianne said, I try to look for the silver lining but I give it a pause..no point in looking too soon and getting annoyed at myself.

I don't want to be Pollyanna and all that-though my kids say I do look for the positive bit when they have a problem-and it gets on their nerves! Please come over to Oasis and collect a well deserved award!

analogman said...

Although I believe we are capable of significantly influencing our destinies with positive attitudes and the elimination of fear from our lives, I'm sure you are absolutely correct with this post, Reya. If I had not gone through many of the troubling experiences in my life, I may not have come to realize what a true joy life can be.

To everything there is a season...

John Hayes said...

Yes, I do believe that has been true for me-- have been working thru some difficult things-- memories, etc.-- myself & I do believe that painful experiences have added a depth. Whether or not that always happens, I'm not sure. It does seem some folks lapse into constant bitterness & chronic regret, & I don't think this is "their fault." Love your caveat about how we'll find enough trouble without looking for it. & love the picture of the gate.

Mrsupole said...

Physical pain is just another way our bodies are communicating with us. They are telling us that something needs to be done to get this fixed. Mental pain is something that can be felt just as much but is harder to go through, especially if we do not get any help. So pain is good, we are alive if we feel pain. It strenghens our body and soul to survive it. But it is something we could do without, yes, but unfortunately, very few do.

I loved the pics. The yellow and the pinks all in the same picture, it was grand and oh so beautiful.

Thank you again for a great post.

God bless.

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

I've given a lot of thought to the same profound question. Troubles and sorrow carve a deep channel that accumulates wisdom and gives it a place to rest. I personally have known bliss in the good times, but the deep learning and wisdom came from the other times.

kathi said...

It is in our times of suffering that we search our hearts and minds for "truth." When all of our superficial masks have failed us, we learn that only God can save.
So yes, in suffering there IS redemption.

Reya Mellicker said...

Wow. Reading these comments brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for your powerful thoughts!

John I agree with you that some people drop into bitterness instead of growing from their difficulties. I can't explain it, but something in me believes that this, too, is a part of the multiverse and that if they could move more quickly through bitterness, they certainly would.

Everyone does the very best job they can. Life is NOT easy, but oh man is it rich and beautiful, yes? Oh yeah!!

Adrianne, a double salute back and forth. So looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Andrea said...

Two things you say struck me as really true. "does wisdom ever accumulate through ease" and "we work through so much karma while we inhabit our beautiful bodies." From my own experiences, my greatest lessons have always come from my greatest troubles/issues. I don't know if wisdom comes through ease but I do know that I am grateful for the periods of ease.

Tessa said...

Yes, life is indeed rich and beautiful. And made more so by thoughtful and thought-provoking people such as you, Reya. A whole new world has opened up to me since I started blogging in July last year. I have 'met' many absolutely remarkable people who have given me a view of the world and its inhabitants which would otherwise never have been possible. I am so grateful for that.

Strangely, I too have just written about the mixture of elation and pain that life deals to each and every one of us.

Reya Mellicker said...

Tessa I love being on a wavelength with you!

And Andrea, YES I am always very very grateful for periods of ease. Without any ease, there's no way to integrate wisdom.

Meri I loved the way you described the way wisdom gathers in a channel that has been carved out by difficulty, and is allowed to 'rest.' Yes! I get that. Thank you.

Ronda Laveen said...

Amen.

Lover of Life said...

I totally agree with your assessment on pain/trouble. I know a couple of people who have never been "tested", and both individuals concentrate mostly on themselves and have zero compassion for others, including family. On the other hand, the most empathetic people I know are those that have had to work through trouble and pain. It goes back to not being able to understand something you have not had experience with. So even though it is hard, and no one wants pain - it is there for a reason. It makes you a better person.

Love your pic of the daffys!

Elizabeth said...

Suffering is pretty, bloody awful on the whole.
I totally hate suffering, but I agree that it is very good for you.
Makes you think and appreciate what good comes your way.
Suffering makes you think that 'normal' isn't dull but wonderful.
See peace after war
or walking after a broken leg
or not having sciatica
Much love to you and Jake

e said...

I am taking a break from the icing of my currently most painful part, and this is a fabulous post on the subject. Yesterday, despite a less than stellar week, I found myself laughing! I am walking a bit now, though it hurts still, but being housebound has given me time to think, and know that whatever happens next, my spirit remains intact!

Great photos, as always.

Bee said...

I guess that I probably agree with Elizabeth -- suffering is the opposite of pleasure/bliss/comfort and lets us appreciate or understand or even recognize the good things. I also think that Lover of Life is right: I've know many teachers and therapists whose deep empathy came from true knowledge of pain. Meri puts it so beautifully: sorrow carves out a channel in our hearts/minds. (But for some, doesn't it seem to be just hardened scar tissue? Why does suffering bring wisdom to some, and only a mental/emotion hardening to others?)

I love the way you capture the sun peeking through the daffodil.

Anil P said...

Wisdom rarely accumulates through ease, rarely ever.

Pain tests one's ability to deal with it, and it is in dealing with it that new perspectives float to the surface.

lakeviewer said...

Hi, thank you for visiting my blog. I agree with you that when we see our lives interconnected and interdependent we begin to think as WE, rather than I.

Interesting cosmology.

Lisa said...

yes to all my dear friend- a very real, honest post- the road to who we are suppose to be is fraught with emotional potholes, but also with beautiful views and signs to tell us when the potholes are coming.........blessed be xx

Reya Mellicker said...

Why does suffering bring wisdom to some, and only a mental/emotion hardening to others?)

Great question, Bee. When I feel generous, what I think is that the mental/emotional hardening is a process that is moving so slowly I can't recognize it, but it's still moving. When I'm not feeling generous, I judge others, oh god do I judge others.

Joanna said...

Yes, it's so true--without our difficulties we stay in a place of ease and perhaps don't grow. I also believe that the tough times are the times that hone our souls. In everything that we encounter we have the choice to grow forward or remain stuck. I guess the people who become bitter are the ones that don't get that.
I love today's photograph. Beautiful colors.

Delwyn said...

Suffering is of course the first of the four noble truths - and would therefore seem inevitable


M Scott Peck begins his The Road Less Travelled with the great line

- "Life is difficult." FACT


Carl Jung said that neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.

So we must accept that suffering is a part of life and the way that we meet our problems and cope with our pain gives meaning to our lives.

However I don't believe that suffering has a monopoly on the gaining of wisdom.

I think wisdom can also be earned through hard work, compassion and love. We can learn to see the joy in the small and simple things of life as well as in the transcendence of suffering.

runmotman said...

Reya, i like that word 'superfluous' ... and oxymoron and polymorphic, and...sounds like an inane group of superheroes.
i wonder if God designed superfluousness into nature, etc. for safety sake; you're probably right, there is a reason for it; though sometimes it seems like overkill.
Which is what you need to rid the world of Oxymoron--a whoopass can of Overkill!

Evening Light Writer said...

I really and truly believe in the power of Karma..100% it always comes back..and so when I go through troubling times I always try to focus on what I could be learning from it..what am I doing to cause this?

I think we assign power and signifiance to our experiences.

Happy Spring by the way...I saw purple tulips yesterday!

Barry said...

I wouldn't have thought so, because it seems a dreary philosophy, Reya.

Except that discovered recently that I had a esophageal ulcer that made eating swallowing difficult and required me to give up coffee and begin to eat a very bland soft diet.

Talk about dreary! But as a result I've lost 10 lbs, am eating the healthiest diet I've ever eaten in my life and have more energy.

So now I'll shut up about that dreary part.

Fire Byrd said...

I am a better person as a result of having had breast cancer and a mastectomy... end of.

karen said...

Honestly, I'm not a fan of suffering in any way, though I've certainly been through enough of those learning experiences, and do feel much the better for them. The joy that I now experience in life is so much deeper and more appreciated as a result... thanks for a great post x

Reya Mellicker said...

Carl Jung said that neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.

wow. That is interesting.

Thanks, Delwyn, for reminding me that wisdom can accumulate through hard work and the practice of compassion. So true!! Thanks.

Pauline said...

I think we have the choice to make suffering redemptive but on its own, it's merely what it is.

Peggy said...

Reya, glorious post! I've learned from my own experience that wheneven I feel broken, a stronger part of me is sure to emerge. Our mistakes make this endeavor we call life human; but even with mistakes and resultant pain/suffering, I aspire to be on the field of life and not on the sidelines! :)

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Dynamic post. I agree with John's assessment that working through difficult memories gives our lives more depth. I see a friend in deep pain and see no out for her at this time. From my viewpoint she seems to be in limbo ... I've been in that state and can attest that it is not fun, but full of pain. I found until a decision can be made within oneself it is difficult to move on to a better life & better understanding of oneself. Perhaps we grow & improve through mental & physical pain, but it is difficult at the time.

Steve said...

Wow. I'm only now catching up with this entry, and there is SO much to say. Of course suffering and its alleviation are at the heart of Buddhist practice, so I hear about this a lot! I do think suffering teaches us and we usually emerge stronger, but for me, the key is to not hold to what came before. Go with the change, no matter how hurtful or scary, and stay present, and move through it all. The holding onto the past, or to ideas, is what often causes the suffering.

Easier said than done, I know.

Amy said...

Reya,

As always, great post.

I've come to believe that so many of the people who "suffer" from anxiety and depression are those who are subconciously trying to avoid suffering of some sort. Whether it's a bad marriage, ill health, a bad job, etc. Instead of dealing with the demons, making changes (scary!) and letting disappointment, despair and sadness pass naturally through them, they resist and the resistance is a pain all its own.

I certainly don't like pain or suffering, but I have learned to embrace it somewhat. To recognize it, see it for what it is and then allow it to pass is the path to happiness.

C├ęcile said...

True, many people seem to live in fear of what may happen if they rock the boat and so they get depressed as they let much of live pass them by. There's this quote I like from Kahlil Gibran: "the deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain" - it doesn't make suffering any more fun, but somehow it can help us grow more beautiful...
Reya thanks so much for this blog - it's nice to know that somewhere on another continent someone else finds time to admire the spring flowers while the suits rush to work =) Your daily bits of wisdom often make my day!

lettuce said...

i'm convinced suffering can be redemptive - but i don't think thats a rationale for suffering, i don't think it has a reason or any justification.

if and when it leads to growth and change and good things I think thats miraculous and extraordinary