Exploring the Causes of Suffering

Returning to Clarity after Acts of Violence: Finding and Resolving the Causes of Suffering

Another "evil" person and 17 grieving families in their pain and suffering call out for answers. You feel their pain... and then what?  What do you do with all of the energy that this level of pain creates in you? Will you try to ignore it, allowing it to integrate untended in your thoughts, feelings and relationships? The results of such inaction are predictable and are cataloged in the “Twenty-Four Theories of Conditioning” found in the Abhidhamma Pitaka. The "roots" of our poorly tended thoughts integrate into our thought life forming what is called, "The three poisons".

Each of these three poisons obscures the love and compassion available in your relationships.  The pain you feel from such trauma may form pathways of  self-indulgence. For example, inner anger and anxiety may lead to self-soothing by eating too much. This behavior undergoes further conditioning by labeling the results of such habits as being "big boned" or a family trait. Although, truthfully the habits induced by pain and the three poisons are passed down in families.

Another of the three poisons induces unquenchable anxiety. Further untended conditioning may lead to a fear of conflict. These thoughts will eventually become further defended by statements like, “I never get angry, I’m just not that kind of person." Another may avoid conflict by inducing another form of this poison... unquenchable anger.  Here the conflict goes underground as other person are always wrong. Deeper negative conditioning leads to thoughts, “I’m not going to tolerate any incompetence, our mission is just too important!”

Then there is the most difficult of the three poisons, ‘Delusion’.  In this untended response to the energy that pain induces the young boy who killed the 17 children is seen as "evil incarnate".  There are no deeper understandings. When allow, the energy induced by pain leads to thoughts of you or others being existentially bad.  This circumvents the compassion and insight provided by your relationship with God. This conditioning will eventually extend to the relationships that surround this energy. In this case, everyone who may have been able to stop the shooting. Looking back, people may clearly have made mistakes, but they are not existentially bad.

Many times, you are the object of this judgmental poison.  You may decide that you are ‘broken’. No matter what anyone says or does, what you have accomplished, or who you have helped, there may remain an overwhelming sense of brokenness.  You may see a therapist who affirms your connection with God and compassionate intent but you may not be able to hear them.  You may be led to take multiple medications, go to a Tony Robbins Event, practice EMDR, acupuncture, EST and psychoanalysis but... this particular poison is difficult to let go.

This third untended mental poison is established in your highest mind. This is where you form your relationship with God. These mind/body circuits provide ultimate oversight of how we think, feel and behave. Often, born of conflict, delusions affect people we feel in conflict with. The resultant feelings are pervasive and infectious. Even though the rest of your highest mind may runs under the compassion provided by your God, your relationship with this ‘object’ runs apart from these circuits and is seldom questioned.

Understanding these Causes of Suffering

So how should you respond to such senseless killings? You have had pain and have formed automated responses to situations that overwhelm you. This is part of the human condition and the way He created each of us. This happens to all of us, Christians, Buddhists and atheists alike.  No matter how spiritual you are or how much you take care of your body we all at times succumb to the three poisons. No one is immune. If you feel you are above these tendencies, then likely you have them aplenty. Leaving yourself to feel that you are above these very human tendencies leaves you no defense at all. It has been said, ‘To those who has been given much, much is expected". In your strengths you may not notice the risk, thereby be most vulnerable to these poisons.

You can build resilience against these poisons with daily prayer and compassion practices. Deciding to establish a relationship with something greater than yourself allows you to gain perspective that is otherwise not possible.  Join a spirit filled group of people and sharing your daily walk adds resilience through your mirror neuronal system. In such groups you can develop a level of trust that allows you to consider other perspectives to life challenges.

You build internal resilience when you begin each day reviewing major goals and implementing ways to improve your relationships by one percent each day.  At night you can consolidate the day's gains by giving thanks for the day’s gifts and efforts. Your wisdom and decision-making improve as you show compassion for everyone... even a young boy who has caused such pain for so many. There must be consequences... delivered with compassion. When you find yourself thinking, feeling or behaving in a way that is contrary to your beliefs, take a deep breath and thank your forgiving God for His endless love for you.

You can compare your foibles to rocks discovered in your garden... like hate for yourself or someone else. God knew it was there all along. Now you have found it. You might tell yourself, “Hello, little rock. How long have you been waiting for me to find you? What have you to teach me... about me?” Hold the places where you suffer gently. Your mindless suffering disappears allowing the original pain to integrate wholly and completely in service to your relationship with God and others.

There is work to do and you are not alone. When you grow, you prosper and end the suffering for yourself and many others. Use the energy that pain creates to end suffering and create your journey of oneness with your God.

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