Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. – Helen Keller
The painful truth is that we all suffer to an extent. Realistically speaking, about 90% of the population suffers from one thing or another. It may be from emotional pain, physical pain, pain from basic needs not being met like food, housing, and security, or psychological pain like fear, jealousy, anxiety, and depression. Maybe a mix of the few.
Save for a handful of enlightened souls like the Tibetan monks and spiritual leaders, most of the world is in constant suffering. So what do the monks and spiritual teachers know that we don’t? What does spiritual enlightenment mean and why should we strive toward it?
Many describe spiritual enlightenment as a state where no egoism exists. It is a state of deep consciousness and acceptance of everything just the way it is, whether good or bad. Very few people accomplish this state and those that do will have taken a lifetime to master. However, it is worth pursuing to eliminate the suffering within us.
The following mantras should help on our path to enlightenment:
1. Accept everything as is.
According to Nirmala, author of the book That Is That: Essays About True Nature, it is in the acceptance of the people in our lives, of the world around us, of the situations we are or were in, that we are set free of suffering. Yet even when we are fully accepting of everything, there is still enough suffering left within us to inspire us to reach out to others who need rescuing and teach them the way of spiritual enlightenment. The reason there will always be suffering is because we are human with a natural state of compassion and love for humanity.
2. Dwell in the present moment.
Never has it been more important to stay present than today. With out minds on autopilot since waking up in the morning until we go to bed at night, we need now more than ever to rule our minds or else the mind will rule us. This means to seriously reevaluate our actions throughout the day while they’re occurring and determine who is making the decisions for those actions: is it our autopilot mind or our conscious mind? Engaging all of our 5 senses as often as possible will help the mind stay focused on the present versus dwelling on the past or thinking about the future.
3. When someone makes you suffer, offer compassion.
As hard as this may seem, showing compassion toward someone who makes us suffer is the surest way to eliminate our suffering. Compassion is achieved by realizing that others too are suffering from something. Offering the helping hand will replace our suffering with many internal rewards.
4. Embrace the pain.
It is through pain that we truly find ourselves. Suffering offers a window to our soul, to our true essence. Therefore, suffering should be embraced as a way to get closer to our true nature and the divine spirits. Embrace all the emotions of the pain as they are only visitors. Feel the emotion to the core for as long as it takes, then let it go. We can even say out loud, “I’ve felt you with my whole being. Now it’s your time to go.” The more we practice opening up to the negative feelings, the easier it will become to deal with them in the future. And of course there is less chance of those same feelings accumulating and resulting in anxiety and depression.
5. Freedom is the condition for happiness.
The root of all suffering is attachment. – Buddha
Freedom is the antonym of attachment. We can never really be free as long as we cling to our fears, our depression, our anxieties, bad relationships, materialism. In order to be truly free we must detach ourselves from all of these things to make room for joy. If we continuously cling to disillusions or thwarted images and ideas of happiness, then we suppress the joy to come out. Now is the time to act on this!
6. Keep the body healthy in order to keep the mind healthy.
It is difficult to think clearly and be fully conscious when our bodies don’t allow it. Keeping our bodies healthy is just as important at keeping our minds healthy. In fact, the two go hand in hand. Some view the healthy habits as an expression of gratitude to the Universe for allowing us to have the body in the first place. Eating a balanced diet and regular exercising and meditating will achieve the wanted results.
7. Practice first principles thinking.
Usually when we hear or read something new, we just compare it to our own ideas. If it is the same, we accept it and say that it is correct. If it is not, we say it is incorrect. In either case, we learn nothing. – Thich Nhat Hanh
In Wikipedia, first principles thinking is defined as a basic, foundational, self-evident proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption. It pretty much means think for yourself and approach everything without any bias or a previous experience point of view. All information should be processed as new. All information should be questioned until we uncover the basic truth (the first principle).
Do you agree with these mantras? Do you have any others to add?