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Anne Naylor

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Finding Freedom From Suffering

Posted: 08/28/10 09:00 AM ET

Is there any value in suffering? Does it serve a purpose? Has suffering ever served you? Is it possible to live without suffering? Are you suffering now, and feeling stuck with it?

Last week, in response to my article "Dealing With Negative Energy at Work," several readers wrote about their negative experiences at work. You know, it is good to get it out. You open a door for others to lend their support, comfort and encouragement -- and many did respond in this way. It was very touching to me.

In asking, you enable others to give. None of us is alone. In giving from the heart, we awaken more of our own heart. We open our greater connection and sense of being at one with the greater world that is beyond our difficulties.

There is a lot of suffering about, as "SShaw490" commented:

I got up this morning and scanned through all the Internet "usual suspects" to find out what was happening in the world, and saw domestic problems, foreign problems, economic problems, a Mosque (that isn't a Mosque) in New York, oil in the Gulf of Mexico, a great but depressing Maureen Dowd piece about America's mass nervous breakdown...sheesh, other than looking through the HuffPo Living section, why did I bother? Then I went outside and filled the bird feeders with all the squirrels and birds watching and I thought -- "birds only sing good news." I don't know why those words came to me, but I'm thankful for them.


We only know the human world, and that's not The World. The World is full of good news -- it's just our little part of the world that's fouled up. And in the final analysis, it's been worse. We may worry, but we shouldn't despair. We'll figure it out, and when we doubt that, well, that's why God made birds to sing to us.

If there is a purpose to suffering, what might the value of suffering be? With the widespread and 24-hour availability of "news," we are being given a constant call for empathy -- for at least being "at one with" the suffering of others, even if we are not in a position to do anything about it.

I am not sure about the word "news" because it seems we like to buy (based on ratings) bad news 24/7, and there is nothing new about it. True news to me is about creativity and resource: the sparkling vitality in a baby's eyes, invention and innovation, challenges met and overcome. But I digress.

In the comment from "MizFlagPin", I am reminded that suffering may stimulate action leading to positive change.

Work in itself can be fulfilling but when the environment is toxic I think we should remember why we work, why we stay. This usually means that our job underwrites the cost of sustaining our lifestyle. In toxic environments, it is best to "stay under the radar," do our work, get out of there and enjoy the time away from the job. We should be appreciative for having a job but when there is a lot of negativeness in the workplace we shouldn't buy in or take the negative stuff to heart.


Instead, we should use energy while we have a job to improve our situation by plotting another career path through education, certification or by gaining experience through volunteer opportunities. Action that leads to positive change is empowering.

Jenny Green suffers from Motor Neurone Disease (MND). MND is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the upper and lower motor neurones leading to weakness and the deterioration of muscles, causing increasing loss of mobility in the limbs and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing. It is a terminal illness for which there is currently no cure. She is competing in a sailing regatta to raise funds for research into the causes and treatment of the disease, so that others in the future may benefit from the cure that is not available for her. For her, this is no small challenge.

Read about her bravery and courage here: Jenny Green Challenge Fund

Could we reach a point of evolution when (for those of us in that position) suffering becomes a choice? Could suffering become like a coat we can put on, or take off. If someone tries to make you suffer, you do not have to wear that coat. You can look at it, and walk away. Practically, that might look like forgiving.

Many years ago, I knew a gentleman in his 60s who was dying of cancer. He was at peace with himself and his condition. People would come up to him with sadness and long faces. He ministered to them with his peace and words of reassurance. He never failed to inspire and give hope. He did not suffer.

"Light, the divine energy from Spirit, is within each and every one of us."
--John-Roger

Has suffering ever been useful for you in some way? What has suffering taught you? Have you found ways to rise above suffering? I would love to hear from you. Your views and wisdom are welcome.

Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me at anne@annenaylor.com

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WATCH: Jim Carrey talks about his awakening through suffering.


 
 
 

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