When Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, he was pointing to the universal human condition. The first Noble Truth being that of understanding that all of us face suffering. Mostly however, what he was alluding to is that the suffering we endure or experience, is suffering we bring upon ourselves. So let's learn how to awaken freedom from suffering.
What do I mean by that?
Without even realizing it, when something happens, we attach meaning to it. We awaken a storyline to go with the event that’s typically based on our past experiences, memories, judgements and suffering. It’s just what we do.
What causes our suffering is how we ultimately imprison ourselves into that storyline. Sometimes, we don’t even bother to check out whether or not our storyline is actually true. This is when I like to say that living in your own head is a dangerous neighborhood to be in.
Without realizing it for the most part, we imprison ourselves in our own thinking, our own perceptions, our own storylines, which is how we get locked into a loop of suffering.
It’s oftentimes not the event that puts us there, it’s our reaction to the event.
There’s no blame to assign for doing this, we just don’t have access right now as to how to awaken ourselves out of the prison of our own making.
“Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?” - Rumi
Meditation provides you with the territory to find your freedom. It’s our field training on how to relate to reality.
The practice of meditation itself allows you to step outside of your busy life full of all of its demands and stressors, take some deep breathes, and listen to your intuitive self speak to you. It’s in those moments when some of the difficulties of your life and the meaning you made out of them will awaken.
You may wonder why, seemingly out of the blue, you think about your long lost friend of decades ago. Perhaps a poignant memory you haven’t visited in years awakens during meditation. All of this is as it is designed. This is the very suffering of which I am referring.
Unfinished business, unresolved conflict or suffering, events not processed.
Some of us think the practice of meditation is all about relaxing, learning how to sit still, calming our minds. But that’s only a small fraction of the outcome of a dedicated meditation practice.
Meditation provides access to these states of freedom, it is not the entire path unto itself.
Consider that the circumstances you find yourself in right now are the perfect circumstances for you to find freedom. The perfect teaching.
How you are right now in this very minute makes you the perfect student. There’s no other place to learn.
The answers to your biggest life questions reside within you, not out here. So take a deep breathe. Find your courage and perseverance to awaken the freedom that is already within you.
We have the opportunity to find freedom from all that imprisons you right now. Transcend your suffering through meditation.
Consider what it takes to climb Mt. Everest. Tenacity, perseverance, breath, courage, dedication, compassion, effort. No great feat, no great endeavor imaginable is without meaning, nobility, curiosity and delight.
What if we view our spiritual path with this same dedication, courage, effort and perseverance?
What can it mean to truly awaken freedom from suffering?
It doesn’t mean that freedom does not have some muck in it. Your spiritual path indeed will.
No mud, no lotus.
If you long to awaken this freedom and transcend your suffering, perhaps consider joining me for a beginner-level meditation course or take part in our community gathering available every Sunday afternoon at Satsang House.
We have the opportunity in this life to find freedom.
It’s right here, right now, always accessible to us.