“Pain is mandatory, suffering is optional.” ~ Dalai Lama
“Pain is mandatory suffering is optional” is often quoted, and it sounds reasonable, but how is that so? How is it lived? Pain, like physical bodily pain, is part of life. Emotional suffering, for psychological “reasons” or in addition to physical pain, is a practice, a habit that can be changed.
These are the mechanics of how pain is mandatory suffering is optional.
Suffering is something done habitually, something that has been handed-down, inherited through the ignorance of simply not knowing anything else to do. It had become so deeply ingrained as to become beliefs, or worse, part of your identity (also a belief). You know it’s gone this far when you hear things like “I am just a sad person.”
The good news is that this same mechanism that can perpetuate bad feelings, suffering, and related beliefs, can be used with the same success to create the habit of non-suffering, or even the habit of joy, and related beneficial beliefs.
What we do habitually becomes what we believe. What we believe becomes what we do habitually. Beliefs change all the time, usually unconsciously. When you take conscious control of your beliefs and habits, you take conscious control of your life. You can have whatever you want in life, including happiness, because inherently, you are freedom. All you have to do is choose, and then immerse yourself in what you do want—from the things you read and listen to, to the people you spend time with, and the things you do. Practice, live, breathe what you want.
Most importantly, and if you did nothing else, notice and feel emotional pain as a red flag to pay attention! Notice it, decide you don’t want the pain, ask your self what you do want, and feel inside for it, because as true as you can always find pain to suffer on, you can always find joy, peace, happiness, love, connection—whatever you want—to “suffer” on. After all, suffering is really just re-feeling something over and over, often building the intensity.
“Use suffering for the only thing it is good for–to point you toward joy.” –C. Teevens
Practicing Alchemy gives you the feeling you want that will end painful suffering instantly. The question is, have you had enough? Do you really want change… Do you really want happiness, peace, joy? But don’t believe me that it’s possible. Practice it yourself to see, feel, and know.
Once you begin to end suffering and practice more more habitually in your life, it is similar to almost being born again… simple things in life come to life as if you had never seen them before. The brightness, the sharpness of the sheer existence and mystery of life raises your awe and appreciation, and your enjoyment. It’s like a dull fog has lifted and life becomes the joyous adventure it was meant to be. You may begin to wonder, as I have, just how good life can get as you continually meet the expansiveness with your own. Become an adventurer, question all you think you knew and life will come alive!