The Universal Opportunity to Wake Up

McLeod Ganj sunset

mettā letter 9

Monday February 12, 2018

Dear fellow soul,

In the previous mettā letter I briefly introduced the knowledge, the practice, and the experience of Living in Alignment, as well as blockages in the domains of one’s Body, Mind, and Heart which prevent one from Living in Alignment and being connected with one’s Soul.

To reconnect with one’s Soul is to awaken consciousness. Awakening consciousness is the point of life — the journey and the destination (if you ask me!)

To awaken consciousness is not a given in one’s life. But there is a universal opportunity through which one can awaken consciousness.

A universal opportunity to awaken consciousness is suffering.

What is suffering? How do I suffer? Why do I suffer?

Searching for answers to these questions will lead you on a quest to truly know yourself. So if you’re interested in truly knowing yourself, let’s dig in.

What is suffering?

Suffering is not meeting our physical, mental, or emotional needs of our Body, Mind, or Heart.

Suffering is a message requesting you to bring awareness to the needs of the domain of your life in which you lack awareness.

Suffering is an invitation into presence. This present moment. Right now.

How do I suffer?

We suffer physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Physical Suffering

If you lack awareness of the needs of your Body, you may experience physical illness or accidents — from not washing your hands, not dressing properly for the weather, touching a hot stove, spraining your ankle on uneven ground, etc.

Consider this — we are born into a conditional physical world as conditional physical beings.

The conditions of the physical world are explained by the Laws of Physics. Your physical body adheres to the Laws of Physics. Your physical existence is conditional on following these laws. If you don’t meet the physical conditions of this physical world, you, as you know yourself, will no longer physically exist.

The conditions of this physical world are the cause of our basic needs: food, water, clothing, and shelter.

Your body may appear solid, but it is not. Your body is not static, it is dynamic — always being created and destroyed, always changing. Your body’s cells are continually constructed and continually destructed — second after second, day after day, year after year. We need food and water to keep this body up and to continue the cycle going of construction and destruction.

Our body needs to continually remain within a certain temperature range to survive. Consider for a moment what temperature is — the measure of the kinetic energy of molecules. If the molecules that make up your body move too slow (low temperature), the molecular processes that make up your physical body cannot physically continue. If the molecules that make up your body move too fast (high temperature), the molecules that make up your physical body will denature, among other things, and you will not physically continue. You need clothing and shelter to keep your physical body within a livable temperature range.

If you don’t satisfy these conditions, then your physical body and physical existence will come to an end.

Mental Suffering

If you lack awareness of the needs of your Mind, you may experience mental issues — incessant negative thoughts, pessimistic attitude, depression, anxiety, mental disorders, etc.

Buddhist teachings, specifically the Four Noble Truths, give us insight into our mental suffering.

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism
1. There is suffering.
2. There is a cause of suffering.
3. There is the cessation of the cause of suffering.
4. There is the Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of the cause of suffering.

What is the cause of this suffering? The cause of this suffering is craving and aversion, and the ignorance of this.

I have sat for two 10-day vipassana meditation courses, which teach the meditation technique the Buddha discovered to reach enlightenment. These courses have given me experiential understanding this mental suffering. To sit with my mind in silence for 10 days was one of the most challenging experiences I have had, and still I highly recommended if it resonates with you.

Now let’s get to the heart of the matter — the needs of the Heart.

Emotional Suffering

If you lack awareness of the needs of your Heart, you may experience emotional unease — anger, fear, or sadness.

All emotions are valid. Your emotions are messages from your Heart. Respect and honor them.

First you must be aware of them. Do not suppress the “negative” emotions. Do not express the “negative” emotions, either. Do not ignore them. Do not distract yourself from them with thoughts, words, or actions.

Bring your awareness to the emotions. Placing your awareness on them and allowing them to pass through you will transmute them. If this is something you are ready to do, I highly recommend the practice of The Presence Process created by Michael Brown. It is changing my life.

Why do I suffer?

The universal opportunity to awaken consciousness is suffering. Suffering is the message to bring awareness to your Body, Mind, and Heart.

Every person has experienced suffering. To suffer is to be human. Suffering is universal.

Leonard Cohen explains the point of suffering beautifully in the song “Anthem.”

Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

The crack is suffering, and the light is consciousness. The light is God. The light is Love. The light is Oneness. The light is reunion with who you really are.

I hope you are beginning to understand.

What will you do with the suffering you experience?

The poet Anaïs Nin put it well:

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

Are you ready to blossom?

In the next mettā letter, I will write to you about the three levels of knowledge.

With mettā,

Dharamkot, Himachal Pradesh, India

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