I am a believer that we should and can find a way to live with no or minimal suffering. How can we do that?
The best experiences I have known have involved truly letting go of all expectations, and flowing with the moment. The mind that flows does not experience suffering, but rather experiences peace and joy. One analogy I use to explain the difference between pain and suffering is vaccinations. This is not about the COVID vaccination discussion (fortunately!) but rather, the difference between the way most younger children respond to a shot, and the way most adults respond to a shot.
I remember crying when receiving a shot as a child, but by the age of about 10 I learned it was not necessary or beneficial to let anxiety take over my mind when being vaccinated. At that point, I still felt the same pain when receiving a shot, but no longer suffered with that pain. Most adults receive shots without concern about pain, and do feel the natural pain of a needle entering the arm but generally do not panic and suffer due to the experience.
Similarly, when we can let go of needing a certain fixed way of experiencing life that matches an idea of comfort or safety, we can experience all of it with a peaceful and joyful mind. That same mind allows us to experience warmth and welcoming for other people, even if they do not match some specific standards of behavior. Nature also becomes full of life when the mind is open to the moment.
William Blake, the natural Zen poet and artist, expressed this mental positioning, and how it feels, when he wrote:
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise
Be free of pre-set notions of good and bad, right and wrong, but allow your innate kindness flow to self and other, and life becomes much less of an effort—and you can take action with far fewer regrets and doubts. When I penetrate to my more fundamental mind, each moment is full of meaning, beauty, and exhiliration. There is no room for suffering!
There are specific ways of freeing one’s mind from anxiety and depression, and feeling more of the flow of life. A key is allowing expression of one’s innate kindness into everyday life, but there is more that can be said.
I will continue to speak about this topic in a variety of contexts, and hope it is helpful to you. May you experience happiness every day of this year, and for years to come.