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Class 47 - Suffering

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Goals

In Class 47 you will:

learn how suffering is not necessary

find heaven here, now

Suffering

(An opinion piece - by Sunirmalya)

Throughout history the earthly spiritual experience has often been associated with suffering. Most of the recognised ‘great’ masters have endured all kinds of hardships and often extremely painful deaths. Jesus was crucified, Gandhi, assassinated by gunfire and, of course, St Francis, spent his life apparently constantly reliving the crucifixion of Jesus and ultimately experiencing the stigmata.

I wonder, however, whether we have made these people famous, or have extolled them more, because of the suffering they experienced. Perhaps because it mirrors the daily pain we feel or in some way allows us to feel that our pain is normal or valid and/or nothing compared to that of the great masters.

In some cases, we are left believing this suffering is necessary for us to experience the perfection of our nature and the ultimate cessation of all pain through our final release to another place called heaven. In all cases we are supposed to believe that by following these masters through a life of pain we will be released into a static, pleasurable state and not ever be bothered again by suffering or pain.

I personally find the whole story kind of silly. I don’t believe in another physical location in another time and space, that is free from suffering. How could it be? Is there a big wall where we can’t see the suffering souls on the earth? Or a higher plane where we just don’t worry about it?

I believe the story is much simpler.

We have made these people our teachers because we believe in the very core of our egos that suffering is necessary. We believe that we must feel pain to feel glory. That it must be hard. We have listened to their stories and it has expanded our belief that for any good to be achieved there first must be pain, must be hard work, must be struggle and fight and even war.

All this in my view is a mistake.

Suffering is not at all natural, pain not at all normal, it is usually a sign that the natural and normal unfoldment of our earthly experience has not happened as it should. For me, every progress of our soul, every resistance that is to be released, first is presented in the whispers of our inner voice, in the intuitive guidance of our heart. If this message is not received it will come again in our dreams and if still not acted upon then begin to arrive in the events of our life. All this will be repeated and continue to intensify and become more and more extreme until they amplify into pain or suffering. This becomes necessary so that we will ultimately focus everything out and understand what it is we have to do. A illness or accident, in this context, is simply a time to stop everything and listen and decipher a letting go that needs our attention. It has become necessary because all the other ways the messages were trying to get through were failing. Suffering is just the last resort the universe has to get our attention.

The teachers of our past have become teachers because they reflected our desire to understand what we perceived to be a life of suffering, but our evolution will lead us to understand that heaven is not another place, that it is here. These teachers pointed to freedom but we focussed on their suffering. We believed that when Jesus said that the ‘kingdom of heaven is within’ or Buddha described the whole universe within our hearts they were speaking poetically in metaphors and not literally. But conversely we have come to realise that heaven cannot be a static perfection in the clouds waiting for us after we die where we will never suffer again because very simply how could we be free from pain whilst our brothers and sisters are still here suffering.

We know intuitively that heaven is more a state of mind, a place in consciousness, here and now, not waiting for our physical death, but the death of our attachment to our belief that we must be in pain, we must suffer, that life is a struggle, a dog eat dog competition against each other.

In the end we might also come to realise that heaven is nothing more or less than the flow of love, the giving and receiving of love between souls. The higher the heaven, the more unconditional the love and for more and more souls. In this state of consciousness, we might still see what we consider pain or suffering, but we will experience it blissfully amidst the magnificent and glorious love that will widen and deepen every experience of ours. We will see the purpose, understand the process, know that pain and suffering are simply the end of an era and the starting blocks of a new direction. We might even be happy to be in suffering, recognising a moment of great change, that a leap is beginning. Suffering when it is as it should be, is the walking back to get a run up for the biggest of all leaps.

Our challenge is to actually live in heaven here and now. To be blissfully and effortlessly happy here. The earth is perfect because it allows us to be in heaven or hell in any moment and it is all our choice. It is a perfect reflection of our states of mind. Our personal state of mind we are in complete control of, but the collective we are only a contributor. Heaven begins when we take complete and utter responsibility for our contribution to the collective and accept that we are the starting points of the changes we wish to see, beginning with our own example. If every atom of us is in the flow of love, is giving or receiving love without condition to every other soul, we personally are in the highest heaven and we are elevating the collective as powerfully as is possible. This is the nature of God. It is therefore the natural nature of us. Our process is to let go, to surrender to the infinite love that we actually are, and to stop manufacturing hellish stories of our ego of pain and suffering and drama and soap opera. They are simply not real, not lasting, and not natural. It is our attachment to suffering that makes the whole planet suffer, our attachment to our own pain or anger, that makes the whole universe angry, it is time for us to be free.

This freedom is ours now, in this moment, as it always has been. “Pain is inevitable”, the Buddha said, “suffering is optional”.

Exercise 47 - The expanding nature of us all - love

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Prepare for your meditation as usual

Take the time at the start of this exercise to offer reverence and gratitude to the souls close to you in your life. This could be family or friends or even animals or places that are important to your soul. Take these few moments to acknowledge them, offer them reverence and thanks for the gifts they bring to your spiritual life.

Breathe deeply and take a few moments to completely relax your body so that you can meditate most powerfully. I’d like you to feel that you are letting go of your body awareness as stage by stage you let go of your body and move deeper. Firstly try to come to stillness, see if you can get your body to complete stillness. If there are places in your body that need your attention then stop and spend a little longer there, sending love and relaxing that place, bringing every part of you to complete stillness. It is as though every atom of your body is filling with love and light allowing it to completely rest.

Start with your toes, insteps and ankles of both feet, relax them and feel that you are allowing them to go to sleep whilst your awareness becomes more and more intense, alert.

Then your calves and shins, relaxing – almost as though you are putting your body to the side as you let it fill with calm, relaxing light. Deeper and deeper is this feeling of relaxing every muscle and coming to stillness as you move now to knees and thighs, quadriceps and now both entire legs and feet are filled with light and are still.

Moving to your hips and internal organs, stomach, liver, kidneys, pancreas – take a moment to really offer your body gratitude for how selflessly it serves you - lungs and physical heart, chest, shoulders and neck. Let it all fill with love and light and let your body ease deeper and deeper into complete relaxation, complete stillness.

Now feel the light flowing to your biceps and elbows of both arms, elbows, forearms, hands and fingers.

Then to your face, your jaw, chin, mouth, lips – relaxing – nose, ears, eyes - draw a figure eight of light and relaxation around your eyes. Then your forehead and hair and the crown of your head.

Every part of your body is now filled with light and love and completely still, it is as though your whole body is asleep and you are putting it to the side whilst your awareness has become super intense and very alert.

As we move to the mind and ego bring your attention to all of your thoughts, your conscious and subconscious, your past and future, and bring love, acceptance and stillness again to all these parts of you. Recognise that as we bring love, we bring ourselves to this moment, now, and let go of your attachment to all that you have done or might do in the future.

Deeper and deeper, and again it is as though in stillness and this now, you are able to let go of your mind and ego and go deeper with more alertness and clarity to that fundamental aspect of us, our soul.

Deeper and deeper, and as we venture more and more into our own soul we realise there is infinite love within us, infinite light. Let go again and again, feeling the relief of letting go of resistance and relaxing into our real nature.

Deeper and deeper. More and more love, and begin to feel that you are expanding your sense of self - of who you are - into the love and light that reverberates through every soul. We begin to feel ourselves as the light that shines within all.

Deeper and deeper. Relaxing more and more. As we let go of our resistance we feel more and more of our real nature being revealed. And we realise there is a hunger within us, a deep longing, a fervent aspiration that has perhaps been the most powerful urge of your entire life deep, deep within you. As we search it out, we realise it is the urge to expand our experience, to love more and more deeply, more and more souls, with fewer and fewer conditions.

We let ourselves drink in this delicious hunger, we relax into it and we feel the ache of our heart, the pain that is at once absolutely excruciatingly beautiful and blissful. Our longing fills us with gratitude and love, and the light and love floods us, like a monsoon storm that will not end. We feel in stillness the most powerful, most primal force in the universe, the expansion of love, and every part of us is inundated by its exquisite blissful delight.

I will leave you in silence, but with each breath let your soul take you deeper and deeper into the inmost recesses of the deepest longing of love .. Really explore this ancient, most elemental of all forces, this aching, longing to expand our love. If you let it, it will feel more like home than any other feeling.

As we come to finish the meditation, and you look back to your mind and ego, just remind yourself that you are not just that mask, those roles that you have accepted in this life, you are something much deeper. Realise that from this very deep place of love that you are not one ego, but all egos, not one role but all roles. You are not one father or mother, or brother or sister, but all mothers, all fathers, all brothers, all sisters.

And as you come back to your body, again experience the feeling that you are not one body, but every body, as you let go of all resistance, you might come to realise that you are in everyone and everything in love.

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