Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Real Purpose

“All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.”

Helen Keller

Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream.

Paulo Coelho

Today I found another facet of my Purpose.  It started because of a mistake on my part, which unintentionally offended a friend.  I felt bad, but I also felt different.  When the friend confronted me, he was (justifiably) very angry with me.  (By the way, I’m using “he,” but it could be a she.  It could even be you.)  As I said, it was unintentional and of course I apologized, but not profusely.  I said I was sorry (twice) and that I had no excuse.  This didn’t mollify him. 
Now usually when things like this happen, I’m completely distraught.  I can’t think of anything else.  Often, until it’s resolved, I can’ sleep or eat.  Depending on the situation, I am filled with fear, anger, or regret.  Sometimes conflict with others has caused me to have an emotional meltdown.  Once I cried for days, stopping only when I was working or around other people.  But this time…this time…something different happened.
First, I regretted my mistake.  I don’t mean the kind of regret that causes shame or self-loathing.  I simply wish I hadn’t made my mistake and I wish I had been more diligent.  I wish I could undo it.  I wish I had been more careful, more considerate, and had planned better.
Second, and this is different from the first, I felt bad for hurting the other person.  I felt bad for causing suffering and pain, even if I did so unintentionally.  I caused another person to feel anger, pain, and rejection, and I’m sorry I did that.
Third, I acknowledged my mistake.  Now, this is the interesting part.  Usually when something like this occurs, I blame, defend, accuse or attack the other person.  I make all kinds of excuses.  This time I did it differently.  I presented the facts.  I explained exactly what happened, the facts, and my part in it.  I apologized.  None of this made my friend any less angry. 
Fourth, I let it go.  I did all I could do up to that point.  Perhaps a way to make amends will occur to me, but for now I let it go.  I decided not to hold on to regret, fear, or anger (sometimes my friend has wronged me, too).  I simply let the emotional reactions go. I will pray that he can forgive and be at peace, not for my sake, but for his.  I will pray that my friend no longer suffers from my mistake. There’s already too much suffering in the world. 
As I was feeling my peace, my ability to let go, I realized that perhaps I could apply this peace to other areas of my life, and end my own suffering.  I have carried sadness, fear, anger and regret for years.  I have suffered.  Yet, I also chose my suffering.  Many of us do.  Perhaps my suffering is the result of years of thinking in these ways, of conditioned responses, but there’s a way out.  What if my responses were not based on conditions, but on something greater?
I can be peaceful.
I can.
It may take training and practice and prayer.  I may need to use everything at my disposal to be free, but I can be free.  I don’t have to be afraid or angry or regretful.  I can be free.  And maybe, just maybe, I can teach others to be free. 
As I’ve said, there is so much suffering in the world and so much of it is unnecessary.  When I suffer, I cause others to suffer.  I waste time in pain when I could be living productively and joyfully.  Instead of focusing on my own (often unnecessary and always unhelpful) pain, I could be praying for others.  I could be worshipping God.  I could be laughing or studying.  I could be creating.  
I think much of my personal pain has been nothing but a giant distraction to keep me in Hell and keep me from being productive.  But I don’t want to be in Hell.  I’ve spent enough time there.  I want to spend the rest of my life in my house on the beach with my Muse.  To make the world a better place and help others get through their suffering is my real Purpose.  This is the Purpose for all of us.  Writing is one of the ways I express that Purpose, by the real Purpose is to love and to help end suffering.  What a privilege that is.
(Dear Muse, if you are reading this, thank you for your part in this.  Thank you for telling me to sit down and write.  You knew this would help end my suffering.  I love you with all my heart.)
So now I’m going to go out into the world, not to fight suffering, (though I hope to do that), but hopefully to spread some peace.  I can pray.  I can take care of myself.  I can ask God to fill me with His Holy Spirit so I can be more loving.  Maybe I will fail and I will have to learn this whole lesson again.  Or maybe I can do some good.  All I can do is Get Started and Keep Going.