A Meaning Behind the Suffering

November 13, 2014

By:  Marc Deprey

Claude Monet, Haystacks, (sunset), 1890–1891, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Claude Monet, Haystacks, (sunset), 1890–1891, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

It is always hard to find meaning when under a stream of unrelenting suffering. The tragedy of early trauma, the resulting pain, and the stress, the strong feeling that some great potential is being lost—all this characterizes the experience of a parent of children of trauma. I certainly feel this myself often—how could all this rage and tumult add up to anything meaningful? Seems like toil with no value. Yet if we were to think of this experience as if it were a minute dark speck on a colossal painting, then we might realize that we, as individuals, inhabit the smallest of dots on a canvas light years wide. By itself, our dot is seemingly full of darkness—meaningless suffering, unearned pain—but as a part of the whole, this dot provides an important contrast, pops out a crucial feature, helps define the smallest dark ripple on a vast ocean of jeweled waves, brightened by sunlight—a light not real unless darkness also exists.

We as individuals cannot see the grand painting as a whole. We are too small and too limited by our belief in a separate self. But what we can do is rest in the faith that a grand painting does in fact exist and that we are an essential part of it—an important aspect of “What Is.” Of that, there is no doubt.

So liberation, enlightenment, true freedom is in the realization that you are, at bottom, the painting itself—not the little dark spot in the corner. You are the space your thoughts are happening in, unlimited by any canvas or any frame. The suffering you are experiencing is trying to wake you up to what’s real—that you are so much more than you think. Our kids are trying to wake us up, if we allow them to.

Acceptance is key, and once achieved this heavy burden can begin to lift, and we can begin relish our special role with compassion for ourselves over resentment of our plight, conviction about our mission over victimhood about how we got here. Doesn’t that sound like prettier place to be?

So see the big picture and your world will get a little lighter each day.

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