Buddha said: that suffering was necessary until we realise that it is unnecessary.
Pain is physical and is a sign from the body that it requires attention, whereas suffering is mental. Here we are considering suffering and the five main causes of suffering.
One: Attachment – replace with love.
Any type relationship we enter we do so to give and share of ourselves. Then we begin to experience the return of that selfless giving –the appreciation, regard, etc. – and slowly we get trapped in/attached to this return. Then we develop the desire to continually experience that return and so we come into either fear (of losing) or anger (if unfulfilled). Continuing along this line we can develop dependencies and addictions, resisting the natural changes of life. So we come to confuse attachment with love.
Real love has two aspects: caring and consideration. Ask yourself: do you care for someone/something because you want them to be considerate in return? If you do then this is attachment not love. Love has no expectations of a return, it accepts all differences and it lets go and lets be. The path of spirituality is the path of learning to love again. It begins with learning to be caring and considerate towards ourselves, and then it extends out easily to others. We need to replace attachment with love – to just let go is not enough as then anger will come to fill the void – then no one will be able to touch me with pain as I am no longer looking for anything.
Two: Guilt – use forgiveness
When we make mistakes – maybe because we are acting from selfishness or we go against our better judgement – we experience guilt. To live with guilt however is a waste of our life, it is far better to forgive and move on.
Forgiveness has five steps: i) recognising the mistake; ii) regret; iii) repentance (don’t get stuck here!); iv) realization (learning from the mistake. seeing the hurt you have caused yourself and others); and v) taking responsibility / reforming and letting the past be the past (we learn, change and we forget). If we find that we have not forgotten it means we are still holding onto to some hurt and have not fully learnt what we needed to learn and moved on.
Three:Insecurity – rebuild faith and trust in the self
We become insecure when we loose faith and trust in ourself. This happens when we falsely identify with the ego, believing that we are this body and that we need others to be whole. We need to rebuild faith and trust in ourselves. Faith is of the head and trust of the heart.
It is the head’s job to protect the heart… as it does so the heart begins to trust the head… experiencing this trust the head’s faith in itself increases… So use understanding (head) and acceptance (heart) and emerge and experience the harmony within your own self, then insecurity and neediness will go. Feelings of humiliation, resistance and disapproval are all signals that we are operating from our ego.
Four: Emotionalism – use acceptance
When we are emotional it is as if we have no control over our feelings, we are disempowered, weak and reactive. So, begin to understand where you coming from – usually we react out of fear or from expectation. Then know that it is not always necessary to understand why the other is behaving in that particular way, instead just accept their right to be and to play their part. We will then come to understand that no one behaves badly unless they are unhappy. So we can step back and stay calm rather than add fire to fire by being reactive.
Five: Suppression – use mindfulness and awareness
Suppression leads to subtle anger, this creates dislike and disheartenment within us and builds up like a pressure cooker… Here we waste lots of time and energy thinking negatively about others and what they did or didn’t do to us. This depletes our energy and leads us to mental tiredness and thus we loose clarity and the inability to make successful decisions. In contrast when we think positively we create enthusiasm, which leads us to success.
So: a) begin to learn to express yourself and communicate with others rather than suppress and not speak up; b) tell others about you; c) develop art of mindfulness, of paying attention to your thoughts; and d) choose to keep the positive thoughts you have, whilst acknowledging and letting go of (not giving any further attention to) the negative ones.