Suffering Means You Have Shit Karma and Deserve it?

I adore my family but we’re all fucking nuts.

If you are a member of my family or know us well, you will know that we are often pretty dynamic which can be very exciting and fun – and we all love a good drama, often not in a good way. Apparently, this applies to many other families and groups as well, to differing degrees.

The sheer volume of moment-to-moment perpetuated crises in our family is pretty impressive. No wonder I sometimes feel paralysingly exhausted. I have various theories on how we manage to be so consistent, including:

‘Catastrophising’ – a continual sense that every moment contains potential disaster and a vital, climactic, world-ending or saving decision. This comes fundamentally from a kind wish to help and protect the self and others, but gets polluted by habitual negativity and lack of self-esteem. It’s a combination of self-importance and self-pity at our vulnerable state (denial of true personal power) and is a symptom of unconsciousness that fuels mental ill-health and the inability to relax.

It originates in addictive behaviour and addicted thought, as I blogged previously.

We can all live on this merry-go-round of fetishising today’s ‘problems’ as if they were even more crucial and cataclysmic than yesterday’s or we can take a step back and think: what the fuck is actually going on here?

Again, people who know me well will be familiar with my habit of responding to unfolding seemingly disastrous events with comments like, “This is the best thing that ever happened, it will be the making of us/me/you.”

It’s not that I don’t believe that tragedy is painful or that solidarity and empathy should be available to us in crisis, the opposite in fact, service and compassion being fundamental principles of life, but it’s a constantly reinforced conviction that

suffering is grace

and a very useful path to enlightenment.

This sometimes seems opposite to the truth when feeling shut down and desensitized by suffering, but without it we could just mozy along and not need to seek for greater truths. What a way to transform it – to be grateful. It might not always feel possible but my experience is that just a tiny crack in the armour of non-acceptance can let in a disproportionate amount of relief.

There is often a misunderstanding of karma, to my mind. If something ‘bad’ happens, then we are ‘punished’ with bad karma. Karma in this interpretation suggests that bad things happen to bad people because they deserve it. Does Palestine ‘deserve’ to live under terrible oppression? Obviously not.

Challenge is a gift that constantly asks us to awaken. Experience is like sun and rain and wind on a flower – the elements give us what we need to grow. When I think of stunningly lovely people in my life who have lived through some terrible suffering, I can feel grateful and respectful of their learned potential for compassion and strength as well as grief stricken.

Ultimately, many of us seek to be challenged as deeply as life feels fit to offer. (And are also afraid of such.) With practice, this can happen not in a tense, forced way but as an offer to learn to relax and open through the inevitable changes of life. And to sit down with the true self which is one of infinite love and power.

We cannot control what is outside of us, and attempting to will deepen our frustration. When we accept that we cannot control the outside world, and often even the inside world, a sense of peace begins to grow that paradoxically enables effectiveness. What’s on the inside reflects what’s on the outside: frustration and frustration….love and love…calm and calm….usually a big, jumbled up mix.

We can input into the world and truly change things for the better when our self-esteem and anxiety is not riding on outcomes. Let go and it will come, and all that.

The trick for me is getting as much space and air as possible into addicted suffering and thought. And relating the concepts to behaviour and day-to-day life. Which day is the right day to not be totally identified with ‘my problems’?

It’s always today.

So today my practice is:

Stop complaining and being surprised when unexpected or unwanted outcomes happen, these things are inevitable. We are not small and weak, but expansive and flexible.

Accept. It is as it is.

Allow acceptance to release calm and flow.

Input economically from a place of peace.

Be the change.


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