I am reading “Polishing The Mirror” by Ram Das.
There are many things I agree with in the text, but there are a few that I do not. As well as a few that I am not prepared for.
I would like to present a radically different view of suffering. According to Ram Das, and presumably as taught to him by one named Marah-Ji, suffering is a part of life. It is an integral ingredient to change. In fact no change can come without suffering, especially in a spiritual level.
What I think Ram Das, and those who believe similarly, are forgetting is that expecting something draws it to you. Ram Das himself says he was wondering what old age felt like when he had his stroke.Probably the act of expecting something, combined with your beliefs, essentially changes your energy frequency to match whatever it is you are expecting. Like attracts like. Whatever you focus on becomes your experience. We see this time and again. But even this is a belief.
The question is what lies outside of the belief and expectancy of suffering? What lies outside the belief in like attracts like? Or that expecting something in some way brings it to you? As I am right with you in still having these beliefs I do not know. But I do know enough to ask, to wonder. If we were free of all our belief structures, would suffering exist?
My advice is to simply assume nothing. Maybe everyone throughout the history of humankind has suffered in spiritual growth. But that was the past. It no longer exists. No matter hoe many times something happened in the past, there is no guarantee that is what will happen now, in this moment. For all his emphasis on “Be Here Now” Ram Das seems to be forgetting this.
It is likely you only suffer in your growth, especially your spiritual growth, because all your texts tell you that you will, or your teacher has told you that you will, or you have studied other great spiritual people and have seen how they suffered. But there are no guarantees in life, not even for suffering. Spiritual growth does not have to be painful.
Spiritual growth has been painful for me. It may continue to be so, if I am unable to figure out how to divest myself of this idea that I must suffer. Renouncing my Christian faith of 20+ years and ripping apart my identity was not easy, or without suffering. Living as a spiritual, not religious person and former Christian among Christians is not easy, and is a situation that can bring suffering, although it has been minor so far. Disconnecting myself from a Tulpa, something I created and fell in love with, hurt like fucking hell. So yeah, there was suffering in the ending of that relationship, such as it was.
But the question remains, did these things have to hurt? Not that I am dwelling on the past, just asking a simple, or maybe no so simple, question. I think the answer is also deceptively simple. No.
The Buddha was probably on to something when he said that some of the causes for suffering were attachment and aversion. If you have to break away from something to which you are attached, you can imagine that must be painful, If you have to connect to something you don’t want to plug into, yeah, that would probably hurt. There is resistance in each case. But what happens if there is no resistance, just flow? Flow can also be thought of as grace. What happens when you flow from right around or through things that other people in your position would want to attach to or avoid?
I say suffering is unnecessary. There is no judgment, karma, punishment or sin. There is really only action and consequence. Let go of your beliefs in judgment, karma, punishment and sin. Let go of your beliefs in suffering. Flow, be graceful, through the situations in your life. Through what presents itself to you in your experience. Around, over, or through what is. See for yourself if there is suffering. Prove it to yourself.
No resistance, no suffering, plain and simple. All our belief systems, our definitions of what is, our vies about reality, this is what brings us suffering. Throw that shit out, let it all go, and be with each moment, as it is, without trying to change it or experiencing anything else. Demonstrate grace, flow through each of these moments. Admit, Allow, Accept.
The spiritual path doesn’t have to be painful. You don’t have to experience pain. You don’t have to suffer. Life is not suffering. I don’t give a crap what the great spiritual masters have all said. I doubt their greatness, if they have succumbed to these belief systems.
Even the process of the physical body growing old and dying, our belief in death, is based only a a belief that everyone before us has died, science tells us that our bodies wear out and we belief what the scientists say. I think we receive some kind of programming at our birth, a package of race history and memories, including things like “laws” of death, decay or even gravity. These belief systems, this programming, is in our subconscious before we draw our first breaths. Then it is reinforced by those who raised us, or teachers through life, and our personal experience. We jump off a barn, land on the ground, break our leg. Yup, gravity works! Guess I can’t fly afterall…
But I say that it is only your beliefs that bring you suffering, that keep you on the ground, and that cause your body to grow old and die. Someday humanity will collectively figure this out. It will be interesting to see what happens when humanity reaches a point that there is no “law” affecting anyone at all, no belief systems, no death, no suffering. What kind of world would that be? What would it be like to live truly free, without any restrictions?
Well that is only a possible future, nothing more. Maybe we get to see it from the afterlife, or maybe it already exists and we can watch it once we have left our physical bodies. Since the future is a question mark, with nothing set in stone, and the past no longer exists, I will stay here, in the present moment, sharing these thoughts with you. Maybe planting the seeds for that future evolution…