Interpreting Suffering

One difficulty most of us have is interpreting our suffering, and our doubts, and our confusion, and our loss of faith as part of the process of awakening. We keep feeling we fell out of grace – we blew it. “Why aren’t I high? What happened? Life stinks. Before, it used to be all sweetness and light, and now it’s so heavy for me.” Not for all of us at all moments, but every one of us has those moments. I sure do.

It’s like when Christ comes forth and performs all these miracles and says, “Look, it isn’t the way you think it is at all. You aren’t who you think you are; I’m not who you think I am. We are all in the Father. Come on, wake up. Let go of all your worldly nonsense. Let’s get on with it.” And everybody around him gets hooked on him because he’s got all this power. Then he leaves them, and everybody gets depressed. They got hooked on their method, their method of getting high, and their method left. If you’re a druggie, you ran out of drugs. Or, for me, my Guru left his body. Or a method that’s been getting you high for years – singing to Krishna or following your breath – suddenly turns to straw in your mouth. It doesn’t work anymore. What about all those lows? When you’re angry. When you’re getting fired. When you’ve run out of welfare. When your car breaks down. When there’s an unexpected pregnancy. When there is a fight. When there is violence in the neighborhood. When there is racial tension in the community. When there is ecological disaster imminent at every turn. When there is a positive AIDS test. When politics all sound like lies.

All of this does an interesting thing: it throws us back in upon ourselves for us to see where we’re at. When all the pins get pulled away, we have a chance for a moment to see what resources we have. There are many stages on this path, many lessons, but don’t stop anywhere. It’s all part of the process of awakening. You have all the time in the world, but don’t waste a moment.


– Ram Dass


Photo by John Phaneuf 

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