Suffering Now and Zen

When your current experience of suffering brings you to look at Zen as a way to deal with it, you have come to a good place. You bring your suffering to that place and the place accepts you and your suffering. A Zen or mindfulness practice will change your approach to suffering. Instead of trying to hold your suffering at arm’s length, you hold it in your hands, which happen to be at arm’s length anyway.

A Zen practice may not change the position of your suffering, it will change your perspective in relation to it. Instead of seeing your pain as not having what you want, you see your pain as coming from the wanting instead of the having. Wanting may seem like it comes unbidden and as soon as you want something that’s it, you want it, but that’s not the end of it. When you examine the want and see it as a passing fancy, it passes. The pain passes with it.

Without a Zen approach to suffering, we see suffering as residing in our circumstances, in fixed things outside of ourselves, which change slowly as circumstances do. With a Zen or mindful approach, we see our suffering as residing in our thoughts, which change rapidly. As we do what we can do to alter our circumstances we can find peace in our minds right now, with a peaceful thought, or with no thought at all.

Suffering will still come and go as thoughts do and circumstances change. However, when we practice a different approach, we can have a vastly different experience of the same place.

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