Let’s pretend you are looking through a telescope. Your entire vision and perception is absorbed in the image you see through that telescope. You shut out your awareness of anything outside that perspective to concentrate on what you are seeing. Depending on how absorbed you are in that experience, you will forget that you are a person looking through that telescope. If you are looking at a far away cliff, you will think and feel as if you are on that far away cliff. You would have to split in two and step away from yourself to have the perception of yourself being a person looking through a telescope as opposed to being purely the perception of whatever you are seeing through the telescope. It is a totally different perspective and therefore view.
Life works like this. Coming into this life as non-physical energy that some call a soul, you are essentially picking a singular perspective. To use the metaphor, you are looking through the telescope. The view you are looking at is 3rd dimensional human life. You become so absorbed in that perspective that you forget you are in fact the being looking through the telescope, not just what you are seeing through the telescope. You are identified with the perspective you have through the telescope. Obviously genuine self-awareness is difficult to have when we are this identified with the view we are seeing through the telescope of our physical lives. We have to dis-identify with that perspective in order to see ourselves clearly. We have to dis-identify with that perspective to have the experience of ourselves as the being looking through the telescope as opposed to the telescope itself. To learn more about dis-identification, I want you to watch two of my videos on YouTube. The first is: Disidentification (The Practice of Non Attachment) and the second is: Mindfulness Meditation.
When we are looking through the telescope, we cannot tell why we are suffering. We can tell that we are hurting. But we don’t know exactly HOW we are hurting or WHY. We can point to something we are seeing through that telescope and say that because it doesn’t feel good to look at, it is causing us pain. But this is not the full picture. If we want to end our pain, we have to step outside the pain itself to see what process is causing the pain. Another way of saying this is that we have to step outside the mind to see it objectively in order to see how the mind really works.
The first question you are going to have to consider is HOW am I suffering? What are the exact mechanics of my suffering? Pain comes in response to something. Pain is a process. It is a response, whether it is emotional or physical. It happens when we resist something that we perceive. When you feel the hit of intense emotional of physical pain, close your eyes and ask yourself what did this pain come in response to? How is this process of suffering happening within me specifically? If I can’t quit my addiction, how does “not able to quit” occur exactly as a process? If I am having a panic attack, how does “getting a panic attack” occur exactly as a process? If I am unsatisfied with my life, how does “becoming unsatisfied with my life” occur exactly as a process?
For example, maybe I feel the pain of intense anxiety and doom. If I close my eyes and observe the HOW process of this pain, I may notice that it may come in direct response to images in my mind of a potential future scenario that then gives rise to the auditory thought “I really, really cannot survive that happening”. The body is reacting to the image my mind is generating.
If this is the HOW of my pain, I become so absorbed in the potential future scenario that it becomes the telescope. Not only do I lose awareness of being the person looking through the telescope, but I also lose awareness of the view through the telescope called the present moment. Instead, I am 2 scenes removed from the being I truly am. I am looking through the telescope to the degree that I am literally in that future scenario that is causing me pain. As a result, I am suffering. Not only am I suffering, I am suffering alone. No one else is in that perspective/reality with me. They don’t get why I am suffering so much. If this is happening when we are technically in a car together, their consciousness is in the car and mine is in the painful future scenario. We don’t occupy the same reality. When they act like everything is fine, it makes my suffering worse. This is what I mean by the HOW of suffering. When you feel yourself suffering, you need to seriously sit down and observe HOW that suffering occurs within you before you ask WHY you are suffering.
If we were to simply ask someone, why are you suffering? They would not be able to give you the correct answer because they would not have dis-identified far enough to see how they are suffering. Only when we know the how of suffering can we know the why of suffering. Once we know the how, we can ask why. Why is our suffering happening in the way that it is happening. There are many angles we could take to asking why. For example, using the previous scenario, we can ask WHY seeing the image of that potential future scenario causes you so much pain. We can become aware of what we really want this way. We might find that it is painful because the minute the mind generates this image; we notice that we think it is real. We believe it is in fact what is going to happen. It is not a potential to us, it is an actuality. A fate. We can ask to see an image of the aspect of us that is creating the image and ask him or her why he or she needed us to be aware of that potential. We can ask him or her, what would be so bad about not showing me that potential?
A while back, I was doing suffering awareness work like this on myself and when I asked to see the aspect of me that was creating the images of future disaster that was causing me pain, I clearly saw myself covered in burns and bloody and desperate to avoid the slightest touch. When I asked her why she was generating those images, I got the immediate impression that it was because she could not handle anything else bad happening. She was too wounded. So it was a warning to try to keep me safe. I could also see that she was an aspect of my ego that had taken control of my ability to see life-path potentials and was now telling me that to stop focusing on the potential bad scenarios in the future was to lose my ability to see the future, which is both dangerous and a threat to my identity. My ego was hijacking my extrasensory abilities to keep itself safe and causing me a lot of pain in the process.
Having dis-identified with this aspect of self by asking to see it outside myself, I was then able to imagine taking this burnt and wounded self to a safe place where I told her to put any of these thoughts into a bucket there where I could come look through them so they weren’t her responsibility anymore and where I could be in charge of keeping her safe and she could just relax in healing water and be healed.
It is only when we see the HOW and the subsequent WHY of our suffering that we have any hope of properly addressing that suffering instead of taking shots in the dark or trying to follow other people’s advice about why we are suffering. We will keep trying on other people’s opinions on suffering like clothes that don’t quite fit until we become completely aware of HOW our suffering is happening and WHY it is happening the way it is happening. I want you to become aware that our being is always trying to help us. We will so often find that they why of our suffering involves a positive intention. So it is a good idea before you embark on this self-exploration process to watch my video titled: The Hidden Positive Intention (The key to letting go).
When we ask how, we begin to see things as a process. When we ask how relative to our suffering, we begin to see our suffering as a process. When we ask the why after the how, we get to see the purpose behind that process. We then have the awareness necessary to intervene in that process so that the process itself does not control us.
Most people have a primary process for their suffering. Consider it the main demon in their life. We tend to repeat this process every day and be the most unconscious of this process when it occurs within us. It is our habit. When we become aware of this HOW process of suffering, we can notice the beginning of this process of suffering when it occurs. If we intervene at this point, we do not go as deeply into the process. We pull momentum and gravity out of it the minute we are aware of it because we are not in the process at the moment we become aware of it, we are looking at it instead. Eventually, if we intervene enough, the suffering habit dissipates and the rest of the process does not occur.
For example, if I notice that the how of my suffering is going fully into images of potential future scenarios that I really do not want to have happen, when I feel a bit of emotional pain, I can use that pain like a meditation bell awakening me to the fact that I’m doing it again and snap out of it in that moment by using the pain as a trigger to ask myself “Ah… what was I just thinking about? Was I just in a future scenario again? If I can avoid it coming true, lets take steps to avoid it. If I can’t find any practical ways to avoid it, maybe the aspect of me that generated that image needs some tender loving care and presence right now.
When you feel yourself suffering, I invite you to start switching your focus from what is wrong with me to how does the process of this suffering work? Many of us think we are in a process of finding happiness when our suffering occurs because we are in fact in a process of not finding happiness. We are absorbed in the telescope view of our unhappiness. Be open to stepping back and seeing the processes that are actually taking place within you and the purpose behind those processes.
Suffering is a process. Observe how this process occurs within you and ask why to find out the purpose behind that process occurring the way that it occurs. The answer for what to do about your suffering will fall into your lap at that point as if it was always obvious and right under your nose the whole time.