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A Lesson on Suffering

From An Outside Eye: The Suffering of Plague, and the Plague of Suffering

Here's a lesson on suffering from the OnSugar blog An Outside Eye.

In my last blog I went on and on about how, when I finally succumbed to the plague for the first time this season, I took pristine, unwavering, ferocious care of myself and immediately started to feel better.

But alas, that wasn't the end of the story.

On day two of my plague, I decided to brave leaving the house in order to go to my Buddhism class at Spirit Rock. I bundled up, made a thermos of hot herbal tea, turned the heat as high as it would go in the Subie, and off I went.

That night, our class was all about the First Noble Truth: There is suffering.

As I sat through the dharma talk, I got colder and colder, and sniffier and sniffier, and felt more and more like dying. The next morning, I woke up with amplified, exponential plague.

I totally get that suffering is optional.

I totally get that it's the story we create around our experience that causes suffering.

I totally get that, with practice, we can step back and disassociate ourselves from the suffering.

I know all these things in theory. But in practice it's a whole different story. I'm not sure if it's ironic or apropos that the morning after the dharma talk on suffering, I felt more suffering than I've ever felt in my life (yes, I'm exaggerating, obviously).

To find out what Joslyn learned about suffering continue reading.

And not just because I had the plague and didn't feel good.

There was suffering above and beyond what was actually happening in the moment. There was having the plague, and then there was feeling sorry for myself because I had the plague, and feeling sorry for myself because I had the plague and no one was bringing me soup, and feeling sorry for myself because if I can't even handle the common cold, what would happen if I got cancer?  In short, it was a meltdown of my own making.

Here's what it comes down to, I suppose . . . no matter how ferociously we take care of ourselves, and no matter how controlling we are about protecting our health and well-being, at some point, we all get sick. The things that make us suffer are unavoidable. It's how we choose to suffer that's in our own hands.

Because having a cold is one thing. And melting down about it for hours is another.

Which brings us to another key concept of Buddhism: compassion.

And by the way, the story did have a happy ending by the time the next evening rolled around: Karen brought me coconut milk soup. And that made it all better.

Want to see more? Start following An Outside Eye or start your own OnSugar Blog. Maybe your stories will be posted here on FitSugar!

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