“Trevor, will you be a speaker on the subject of Overcoming pain and suffering?”

I have been asked to speak on the subject of overcoming pain and suffering.

Is this a joke? No, it’s my life! My patterns. My karma.

I was joking about it at a dinner party on a ski trip in Austria a few weeks ago (get me). ‘So, I’ve been asked to be a guest speaker on the subject of overcoming pain and suffering! How funny is that! There’s only one reason why someone gets asked to talk on that subject!!’

Laughter all round. Sudden pangs of deep unforgettable pain inside. Continued laughter outside. Slightly desperate looks around the table. Are people laughing with me still? Oh good. They’re finding the funny side.

Pain…my pain anyway…the things we carry with us, never completely goes away. Our karma hangs around. But it’s possible to stop it controlling my life, to stop being ‘possessed’ by pain. Then when it comes back, it’s felt but its power is largely gone.

The zen teacher I have the closest relationship with suggests I prepare something on the four noble truths and keep it at that.

Certainly wise advice. Buddha’s teaching on suffering has been the kernel of inspiration for thousands of self help books, and has psychologists catching up with it 2.5 thousand years on.

We ‘snuff out the flame of passion’ which is what nirvana means. We snuff out our desire for things to be a different way and accept what Is. Then we learn to accept what we can’t change, and become free to adapt and respond situationally and with supple character.

Life is getting much harder for all earth humans, and will continue to do so for decades. If we recall that we are One, we will still be able to reduce all suffering. But we must be quick now.

The status quo is just the prevailing shared karma. We know we must shake it off, but we don’t know how or what to replace it with. It will only become clear if we do not look for replacements, and instead remember our Oneness; that all other beings matter equally to ‘I’.

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