Some thoughts on suffering


Graphic by Ethan Gullet

Forrest Wilkinson

Suffering: it is a natural part of life, interwoven into life’s fabric. It is unescapable, and yet how we perceive, act, speak and become in the wake of suffering is what defines us most. There is no escaping the darkness or the light, they are as much a part of us as the genetic code we are born with. This is the first noble truth: all beings will experience suffering, it is natural, it is okay.

It is said that, “hurt people hurt people,” but scars that have been transformed into faith and forgiveness produce saints and righteous warriors. When we try to avoid suffering, or hold on to it as something unique to ourselves, we begin to lose our humanity and ability to genuinely connect with others. A fancy house, a nice car, you name it; suffering exists in your heart and mind and can live and travel with you anywhere. But facing life’s hardships brings wisdom, and this wisdom will also live and travel with us wherever we go. One path is to play hide and seek, playing an elusive game with our suffering; another is to accept it as a part of life and begin living once again.

There are a group of mystics, who after searching their hearts see clearly that everything is backwards. Thus their craft is: backwards poetry. It goes like this:

A man sat staring at his plants, never watering them, but learned how to nourish his soul

A hunter shot her arrow but struck herself and learned full-hearted compassion

A young girl rejected by her lover learned true love for herself

One steadfast in their efforts, must eventually learn effortlessness.

And so I ask: is it truly too backwards to count your hardships as blessings? Perhaps you have been looking forward to your healing, when you should be looking backwards.