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Suffering Our Way Out of Suffering

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Q: I enjoyed talking with you on the phone, it was really nice to check in. I’d like to share something that happened after our conversation. I noticed that the sweet feeling of being in love with my life here, that I had after finding out my friend tested negative for the new virus, is turning into waiting for the next shoe to drop.

It has to do with the emphasis that some teachings place on suffering as our motivator and guide towards awakening. I have a pretty harsh superego which adds to this emphasis. So that I sometimes feel like I can’t relax and enjoy my life. I “should” be efforting towards enlightenment and being Present at all costs! I should be exercising my self control. And if I don’t, life will serve me up some suffering to get me motivated. Then I start to wonder what it will do to me next to teach me whatever I am supposed to learn. It actually creates more fear than trust in Life. And my superego gets in the mix with motivating me by scaring me into thinking I have to create this self control 24/7.

A: First, I would suggest that suffering is created by our mind, not by life. It still is painful, but the pain comes from what our mind is telling us. Life is not sending us problems to teach us, but the suffering we create with our mind is meant to show us that our mind created problems are not real or true. i wrote some more about this in these articles on my website:

So our fears, desires, doubts and worries generate suffering to show us that the fears, desires, doubt and worries are not very real or true. Again, life does not bring difficulties into our experience to teach us, but when difficult experiences arise, they are an especially good opportunity to discover that suffering does not come from our experiences. And when we do not resist or deny our experience, then any suffering that was present even in a very difficult experience goes away.

This is an incredibly subtle phenomenon, and so it takes a lot of careful inquiry to see the true nature of suffering, especially when there is a more profound or intense experience of physical or emotional pain. The difference when there is a lot of sensation or emotion is that it is much easier to also suffer. It is harder to suffer when things are pretty calm and easy, but it is still possible to suffer and to suffer a lot when life is actually pretty good.

Because it is possible to suffer over almost anything, it is also possible to suffer over suffering itself! Worrying that you might suffer is in essence suffering over the future possibility of suffering. It is sort of like premature suffering! When it is pointed out like this, it can appear kind of foolish. But when it is our own mind (and especially our own superego) that is generating these worries, they are very convincing. I have compared the thoughts in our mind to an IMAX movie: https://endless-satsang.com/the-imax-movie-in-your-head.htm

The good news is that we do have something else besides our mind that is able to discriminate how true or not very true our fears and worries are. Our heart shows us how not very true they are by contracting, whereas to the mind they appear very big and important. The contraction in our being is showing us how big and important they really are. If you feel very contracted when you are worried or fearful, that is the right way to feel. The smaller and more contracted you feel, the smaller the truth or reality of what you are thinking/feeling.

How True Are Conspiracy Theories?

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Q-I felt very much in alignment with the message Jesus gave about COVID-19, yet family members have bought into the conspiracy theories. The data they present is compelling and seems to be convincing people that the government is in on the false information being put out. And certain heads of departments, including Dr. Fauci, Bill Gates, and others are profiting from the virus that maybe they created to get patent rights so that when a vacine is developed they will make billions. UGH! What to do? It does "shake me up".

Wish someone could tell me the truth that is at opposite ends of the spectrum, raising my own fears about what is actually going on. Hard to know and trust my own truth. Any thoughts?

A-Thanks for your questions. It seems that you might be using your mind to try and determine how true things are for you personally and also for the world with this virus. The mind is not suited to that task because it sees truth in everything. And since all there is is truth, that means all of our thoughts and fears are true....to some degree. However, they are not all equally true, and some of them have very little truth indeed.

It is our heart that tells us how true something is for us, and also how relevant, meaningful, important and real something is for us. Simply put, a bigger truth opens and expands our heart (including our awareness and our sense of our self) and quiets our mind. In contrast, a smaller truth contracts our awareness and sense of self and tends to activate our thinking mind. Truths come in all sizes from very big to ridiculously small, and so you can trust your heart's response to show you how true, important, and relevant any thought, belief, fear, doubt, intuition, inspiration, insight, desire, etc. is for you.

This is always relative and unique to each individual, so what is important and relevant for your children may or may not be relevant for you. You can explore more about the heart's innate wisdom in part two of the free ebook, Living from the Heart, available here: https://endless-satsang.com/free-ebooks-free-spiritual-books61.htm

The mind in contrast is useful for gathering information to then evaluate with your heart. Specifically regarding the conspiracy theories circulating, you can quickly and easily find information that contradicts or debunks any particular meme that is out there by searching online, and then use your own heart to distinguish how true the conspiracy theory is or is not. Again, they will always have some truth, even if it is very little. The important question is how true, meaningful, and relevant is the information for you individually. I have also found this perspective helpful on how easily some spiritual seekers are misled by certain kinds of information: https://medium.com/@julesevans/conspirituality-the-overlap-between-the-new-age-and-conspiracy-beliefs-c0305eb92185

If you are on Facebook, there is also some useful discussion about this tendency for spiritual people to be more susceptible to conspiracy theories on this post by a friend of mine, and in the comments on the post: https://www.facebook.com/amir.freimann/posts/10158207218814243

I have also written at length about the heart-centered way of discriminating the relative truth of things in these blog posts:

I hope these perspectives are helpful.

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Different Types of Awakenings

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Q: l have heard many interviews on batgap. Some people have kundalini experinces with awakening and subtle perception and abilities, some people have a simple recognition of their true nature. Is that possible? Yoganada has said that acid test for awakening is that the person should be able to stop his breath and enter superconscious state (formless samadhi) at will. What are your thoughts about this?

A: In my experience, there is a wide range of experiences in what people describe as awakening. My good friend, Jeffery Martin, is a neuroscientist researching awakening, and he has identified several different kinds of awakenings, which he calls locations. You can read more about his research in a popular book he released recently called The Finders. Here is a link to the book on Amazon: https://mybook.to/Finders

I hold all of the maps of consciousness lightly including Jeffery's and even Yogananda's, as I do not think anyone's map is truly complete. But they do all hold elements of truth. i wrote a little about this in an article on here: https://endless-satsang.com/spiritual-enlightenment-spiritual-awakening.htm

The most important thing is your own experience of consciousness. What is your awareness like in this moment? How has it or is it shifting and changing? Does it expand and contract? Is your awareness awake already? Anyone else's experience of awakening can really only show you what is possible. But your experience of the spiritual journey will be unique. The mystery does not even make two snowflakes that are alike, so why would it create two different humans with the same experience of awakening?

I hope this is helpful.

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The Endless Satsang advaita blog by Nirmala is a place for occasional musings and also answers to questions via the contact form on here.
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