It’s interesting shooting this video in COVID, right before the 2020 elections, and a lot of confusion, tension and anxiety in the air. We could call these tough times, or interesting times, or the new normal? I don’t know. And one of the things I learned from a mentor of mine–he is a guy named Rabbi Mordecai Finley–I learned a lot from him. To have a philosophy of life that accounts for the fact that things are going to get very difficult.
These days with marketing and everything else, everybody wants to put a positive spin on something because everybody’s selling something. And generally, it’s nice to sell something positive like lose weight this fast, do this good, I’ll help you make money, whatever it is.
But philosophically speaking, when it comes to my being and how I’m approaching my life, I actually want a very deep notion of what it means to be human. Because the deeper I am, the more resilient I am, in a time of difficulty, meaning I can plumb the depths of my own soul and spirit, because I’ve gone deep, therefore, I can deal with this contingent and difficult time.
Life is Suffering…So What Now?
I think one of my favorite examples of this is in the Buddhist tradition, and the Buddhist tradition, sort of at its foundation, it says, “Life is suffering.”
And I think the accurate translation is closer to life is out of its socket. Like there’s something asymmetrical and off and imperfect. And that doesn’t quite harmonize about life. That’s the way I think about it.
So, think about it: It’s kind of a downer to go, “Hey, why don’t you follow me? Life is suffering.” It’s like, well, no thank you. I’d rather go with this person who’s promising me more money.
Embracing Acceptance as a Starting Point
However, if one can kind of move into that notion of life is suffering, life is difficult, life is dislocated…one comes to a deep resonance of being with that reality when that it is happening.
In recovery, we call that acceptance. If I can accept that life is suffering, or that life is difficult, then it’s no longer an issue for me. I accept it. This is what it is. But…My ego self rationalizes how things should be, how I think they should be…
My ego says, “Things should be better, things should be easier, things should be whatever.” That’s when I’m really suffering.
But if I know things are going to be hard, because to be alive means to move against the resistance of reality at every moment. I’m getting older, I’m dying at every moment. To be alive means to be in that sphere, means to deteriorate, means to fall apart, means to be difficult, means to suffer, means to be dislocated.
Then I go, “Okay, that’s my starting point. Everything from there is a win. Wow, considering that life is dislocated and suffering, I’m having a pretty good time. This ain’t the worst day in the world.”
Learning to “Be” with Suffering and Difficulty
It makes me a deeper person. It also, if I have that deep kind of creed or philosophy about life, it also allows me to empathize deeply with other people that are going through stuff. Because I get suffering. I’m not ignoring it. I’m not pretending it’s not there. I’m not trying to work it away at the gym, or whatever it is. I get it.
I know how to be with suffering.
I know how to be with my own suffering and the suffering of another. I think there is a really important discourse that needs to happen in these times because I have a sense that things are gonna get a little rocky.
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