On SufferingPosted July 22 2016
Here is an excerpt from our friend, Marianne Williamson’s new book, Tears To Triumph. We hope you enjoy.
Every few years, Williamson steps forward with her finger on the pulse of an emerging trend. Rather than predict, however, she defines. Tears to Triumph is an exceptional example of her skill…an exceptionally timely and relevant treatise.”
A book that has been perfectly timed with what we are going through as a country and universe. We all face times in our lives when the pain of existence seems too much to bear. For some of us, these experiences happen rarely, and when they do, the pain is relatively mild. But for others of us, excruciating pain can weigh us down and make the slightest comfort difficult to achieve. Deeper and deeper we fall into the well of our own tears, into a darkness that seems to have no bottom. We wonder where all this suffering comes from. And we wonder whether it will ever end.
Themes discussed in the book:
Emotional torment — why is such suffering a part of our experience? What does it mean? And how can we survive it and even transcend it?
What is the response to suffering at the heart of all great religious teachings?
Why is it important to be fully available to our suffering, as opposed to suppressing it or numbing it?
Why has our suffering become a profit center for the pharmaceutical industry?
What is the relationship between our suffering as individuals and the collective forces that are depressing us all?
What is the role of forgiveness and love in freeing us from our pain? What are the spiritual principles that deliver us to happiness, and how do we apply them?
“This book is a spiritual reflection on human suffering, both its cause and its transcendence. Spirituality is not some pale-pink, gauzy, psychologically unsophisticated understanding of the world. Rather, it represents the most profound elucidation of how the mind operates and how it filters our experience. It recognizes the extraordinary depth of our most fundamental yearning—our yearning for love— and the extraordinary pain that we feel when we don’t find it.
There is an epidemic of depression in our world today, and a myriad of options for how to treat it. Just as there are natural remedies for disease within the body, there are natural remedies for disease within the mind. And by a “natural remedy” for depression I do not mean herbs or homeopathic remedies; I mean the practical application of love and forgiveness as a medicine for the soul.
As a society, we invite deep sadness by trivializing love. We have sold our souls for a mess of pottage. Human existence is not just a random episode, with no higher purpose than that all of us should get what we want. Seen that way, with no overlay of spirit, our lives seem to have no ultimate meaning. And the soul craves meaning the way the body craves oxygen. In the absence of a spiritual framework, we know the mechanics of life but stop short of understanding it. Failing to understand life, we misuse it. And misusing it, we cause suffering—for ourselves and for others.
Every great religious and spiritual philosophy speaks to the issue of human suffering. This book only touches the surface of the spiritual depth of insight available in the great religious and spiritual teachings of the world, but hopefully it gets to a point often obscured behind veils of dogma and misunderstanding.
Buddha’s spiritual journey began when he saw suffering for the first time; Moses was moved by the suffering of the Israelites; and Jesus suffered on the cross. But the point is not simply that Buddha saw suffering; the point is that he transcended it through his enlightenment. The point is not simply that the Israelites were enslaved; the point is that they were rescued and led to the Promised Land. The point is not simply that Jesus was crucified; the point is that he was resurrected. Human suffering was only the first part of an equation; what matters most is what happened after God showed His hand.
We too are suffering and observe suffering all around us; we too are enslaved by an internal pharaoh; and we too are dying on the cross of the world’s cruelty and lack of reverence. Whether it occurred thousands of years ago or is occurring today, suffering is suffering, oppression is oppression, and cruelty is cruelty. These things are not ancient realities that don’t exist anymore. They’re not gone.
And neither is God’s power to eradicate them. Spirit enlightened Buddha; Spirit delivered the Israelites; and Spirit resurrected Jesus. If we know our suffering is the same as theirs, it makes sense to seek a deeper understanding of their deliverance that we might more easily invoke our own. How arrogant we are, and how blind, to think that our suffering is the same as it’s always been, yet somehow we’ve improved on ways to deal with it. Are any of us under the impression that Buddha could have transcended suffering by making more money, getting a better job, or buying a better car? Or that the Israelites could have escaped slavery if they’d had another round of negotiations with Pharaoh or a private jet to take them to the Promised Land? Or that Jesus could have risen from the dead if only cryonics had been around then?
Humanity, over the past few hundred years, has lessened the incidence of some forms of suffering and increased the incidence of others. We’ve diminished the threat of polio, but increased the threat of nuclear disaster. We’ve diminished the dangers of travel, but increased the chances that our entire ecosystem will implode. And if we think we don’t do “rape and pillage” anymore, take a look at what’s going on around the world.
There is no worldly solution to the suffering, or self-destructiveness, of humanity today that can compare to the solutions offered by the great religions and spiritual philosophies of the world. Which is exactly why the ego mind has sought to co-opt them for its purposes. It has turned the power of peace into the power of the sword, both within the world and within our hearts.
Today’s search for spiritual sustenance is not confined to a particular teaching. There is no right or wrong when it comes to Buddhism, or Judaism, or Christianity, or Islam, or Hinduism. They are all kaleidoscopic facets of one essential diamond. Whether we relate personally to the story of Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, or Krishna; whether we understand truth more deeply when it is expressed by Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, or A Course in Miracles; the essential themes at the heart of all these teachings are universal. They apply to all people, and most significantly, to all times.
The great religious figures and teachings of the world are God’s gifts, a divine hand reaching down to touch the minds of those who are called to them. While the ego uses the outer aspects of these teachings to divide us—sometimes even as justification to destroy one another—their inner truths unite us by teaching us how to live with each other. On an internal level, the great religions of the world have always led to miracles. On an external level, they have as often led to violence and destruction. That must change, and will change, as more people come to recognize the mystical truths, the inner gold, that lie within them all. The greatest opportunity for humanity’s survival in the twenty-first century lies not in widening our external horizons, but in deepening our internal ones. That applies to us personally, and it applies to us collectively.
And we will be sad until we do. Our bodies, our relationships, our careers, our politics, will continue to be sources of suffering when they should rather be sources of joy. Hidden within all great spiritual teachings is the key to turning that around. Once we find the key, and turn the key, we are amazed by what lies hidden behind the door that’s been locked to God. We’re not without hope; we just haven’t been seeing it. We’re not without power; we just haven’t been claiming it. We’re not without love; we just haven’t been living it.
Seeing these things, our lives begin to change. Our minds are awakened. Miracles happen. And at last our hearts are glad.”
You can purchase the book here.
You can get the FREE MP3 LECTURE from the book launch here.