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The Misunderstanding

The Misunderstanding

And what lies beyond…

 

Suffering is a misunderstanding.

It exists… It’s real. I can call it a misunderstanding, but I can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist, or will ever cease to exist.

Suffering is the condition on which we live. And when it comes, you know it. You know it as the truth.

Of course it’s right to cure diseases, to prevent hunger and injustice, as the social organism does.

But no society can change the nature of existence. We can’t prevent suffering. This pain and that pain, yes, but not Pain. A society can only relieve social suffering, unnecessary suffering. The rest remains. The root, the reality.

All of us here are going to know grief; if we live fifty years, we’ll have known pain for fifty years… And yet, I wonder if it isn’t all a misunderstanding — this grasping after happiness, this fear of pain… If instead of fearing it and running from it, one could… get through it, go beyond it.

There is something beyond it.

It’s the self that suffers, and there’s a place where the self—ceases. I don’t know how to say it. But I believe that the reality — the truth that I recognize in suffering as I don’t in comfort and happiness — that the reality of pain is not pain. If you can get through it. If you can endure it all the way.

It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced.

The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers. We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, in hunger, in poverty, in hope, we know our brotherhood.

We know it, because we have had to learn it. We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand.

And the hand that you reach out is empty, as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.

That’s the voice of Ursula K. Le Guin in her book, The Dispossessed.

Borrowed from Maria Popova and her blog, BrainPickings, which I hope you will support.

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