Friday, September 5, 2008

Clinging to Suffering

As I've been practicing Buddhism and applying its teachings in my life, I've made an observation that never fails to surprise me.
Peopl, often don't want to let go of our suffering. Some things that cause suffering are easy to let go of. But once and a while, we encounter something, a point of suffering we don't want let go of. We tend to wrap it around ourselves like a comforting blanket.
I've noticed several examples of this within myself as I practice, but the latest (and most extreme) example of this that I've noticed is a loss of a relationship. A friend of mine is still in love with a man, even though it's been over a year since they broke up. They still hang out a lot, so she has never had any time to get closure, let go, and move on with her life. She constantly clings to the notion that their getting back together would make her life better. By doing this she rejects the reality around her, and creates her own reality where she and him are back together, and life is perfect because of it, and because of this, she constantly suffers. It breaks my heart every time I hear her mention it, every time she calls me crying. She needs to let go, accept the reality of the situation, and move on so she can enjoy her life. She knows this, has admitted to knowing this, and yet she refuses to let go, or even attempt to let go. She keeps him close, a constant reminder of what she had, and what she wants.
I want to help her let go and relieve her suffering, but I don't know how. The only thing I can do is let her learn to let go, and comfort her every way I can until then.
I've done this too, I think most everyone has at some point in time, no matter how long or brief. Humans are social creatures, and we crave comfort, we crave companionship and closeness. To have someone to love and trust is is invaluable in a society where everyone puts their needs first.

Anyways, this is something I've noticed again and again. As I've practiced the Middle Way and applying Buddha's teachings to my life, I have come across causes of suffering that I can deal with easily, and causes of suffering that I don't wish to let go of, even though I know I must in order to relieve the suffering they cause. People will sometimes come to a source of suffering that they don't want to let go of, even though they know it will cause suffering.

She is one of my dearest friends, even though I've only seen her a handful of times since college started, we have survived much together, from a grueling chemistry course to being chased by Italians across the Florence plaza, to experiencing the top of the Effeil Tower together. I hope she gets through this.

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