Thursday, May 11, 2017
Facing Genuine Pain and Suffering
EZosophy is a philosophy that calls us away from ego driven suffering. EZosophy does not deny that we experience real physical and emotional tribulations. Individuals suffer, communities suffer, America suffers, and the world suffers. Suffering is not just individual; all suffering pulls at the fabric of humanity.
One of the most beloved saints of all times, St. Francis, overcame tremendous suffering. He was born into a wealthy family. He ran around with his drinking buddies and eventually went to war – or at least participated in a skirmish. He fought for his city and was taken and held prisoner for more than a year. After his release he wanted to become a soldier, but illness kept him from military service.
Can you imagine? He was to be one of the greatest saints in history and he wanted to join the army! No wonder he kept getting sick. Deep down the seeds of spirituality were planted and his body said, “Hell no, you won’t go.” None-the-less, he planned to marry, but after seeking guidance, he was called back to a more solitary spiritual life. Eventually he became the original animal whisperer, a respected spiritual teacher and leader, and attained sainthood from the Catholic church.
Once I was in love and planned to marry. Many things got in the way of the marriage; it never occurred. I didn’t understand. I wanted, longed for an explanation. I asked for help and guidance through this dark night. The St. Francis story led the way to understanding. When the young man’s path was blocked from his chosen career and his marriage, he might have felt sorry for himself or complained about the unfairness of life. Instead, Francis was led deeper into the spiritual life. This wasn’t the end of his life; it was his renaissance. But things didn’t go so smoothly for Francis; actually, his life was miserable. His community thought he was crazy. He was guided by a voice his friends and family did not understand. Yet, under pressure, Francis grew into a spiritual giant. The following thought is attributed to the great saint. “Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” The saying sounds too contemporary to be the words of a 13th century mystic, but it does describe how Francis lived his life.
While I was not happy that Francis suffered, I was happy to find that even saints, maybe especially saints, suffer. It was comforting to know that I was not the only one - even the most spiritually astute suffer.
Ego driven suffering can be cleared up in an instant, but an instant cure for genuine suffering rarely exists. The trying times anoint us and guide us. These wearisome times, at their best, evoke compassion and humility. When we are on top, it’s so easy to serve the egoic mind, but when tragedy strikes, it brings with it the ability to reach into our deepest spiritual strengths and reach out to our support systems. This is what makes our situations EZier. We might not be able to carry our 50 pound load, but when a friend joins with us or someone wipes our tears, it lightens our load. And when there is no one else to count on, something can rise from deep within to soothe us. We are never left alone.
We must navigate genuine suffering with care so as to not complicate suffering by suffering about our suffering. This is affectionately referred to as feeling sorry for ourselves or having a chip on our shoulder. We can’t use tough times as a bargaining chip to get others’ attention and resources. That’s like trying to go into the back door of life. When we rise up and face difficult situations, such as a loss, and don’t complicate the circumstances by involving the ego, we receive assistance from other realms and join a flow that eventually carries us past the pain. It’s called integration. Our past pain becomes a part of us that informs us and sends us into higher levels of compassion, but the pain no longer dominates our lives.
The saints, the foremost champions, and the greatest losers go through times of genuine loss and suffering. While we can’t escape these times, we can be sure that we do not travel alone. The eight word miracle mantra, “Everything can be EZ (Ego driven suffering can improve right now!) or at least EZier,” speaks to the nature of suffering and recovery. We are the champions of our lives, and whether life is peachy or downright sucky, we exist in a matrix of love that guides and guards us, even when we are too weary to look. Love says, “You may not be able to see it from where you are standing, but I assure you that everything is okay. The Supreme Okayness is with you and you are safe.” Our lives have already been saved, so when tough times befall us, we can be assured that we will make it though. This is the promise of the spiritual life, that we will make it through and emerge and reemerge into the adventure called life, and that every pain, every burden, every mistake – all will be renewed, restored, and revitalized if we allow it to be. We must give up our ego driven suffering, face our genuine suffering, and surrender to the Source. Spirit brings us the present of life, but we must open it to receive its gift and trust that the good and the bad work together to provide exactly what we need to be free, joyful, and fulfilled. #EZosophy #Saintfrancis #spiritual
You may find the following links about St. Francis engaging: