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When Principle & Reality Clash


Warning: The Spiritual Principle Contained in this Lifestyle May Not Relieve Your Pain & Discomfort

Recently, while navigating through a rough patch, it occurred to me to ask a question: Which spiritual principles (while beautiful and important) hold no real power to make this painful life experience easier to live with and which ones do?

What follows is an exploration of the lines between spiritual principle and worldly experience – the many, many places in our lives where truth and reality (often painfully) collide.

We tend to expect our spiritual perspective to ease our burdens and relieve our pain, at least in part. Thankfully, this can happen. But there are many experiences that remain hurtful, difficult, scary, or confusing regardless of how practiced we are at walking in treeswalking our spiritual truth.

Relying on spirituality during times of challenge is great, but meaningful principle turns to empty platitude very quickly when the truth we are used to relying on doesn’t seem to be helping. Don’t assume your go-to spiritual truths will get you (or anyone else) through the tough stuff.

Maybe instead, we can witness the pain, both our own and that of others. With deep compassion, seeking gently for what might bring comfort we can wrap it all up in Love, especially in those experiences when ease is a long time coming.

I ask us all to remember that these lines between truth and experience redraw themselves as we change and grow. I believe what makes the difference depends on us as individuals and the situation.

Principle & Experience, Not Always Easy Companions
The physiological imbalance in my brain that I am currently experiencing does not speak or represent my personal truth.
Just because the line between symptom and truth is clear, the pain is not necessarily easier to live with.

A very useful definition of suffering is, “A

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state in which one feels disdain for what is and/or craves something other than what is.” The pain is simply what is.
There may be a clear line between pain and suffering, but that doesn’t always make me feel better.

Only the practice of peace (living without suffering) yields peace. Only relieving the pain yields relief.
Clarifying the line between peace and relief may prove beneficial, but it doesn’t always make the situation any easier.

I neither expect nor ask that all my needs be met (ever) and I consider it an element of self-care to learn how to live with this peacefully.
While, lately, this one has made the pain easier to live with, the clear line between desire and what is possible might not do the trick in the future.

Learning to live in peace with pain that cannot not be easily relieved yields wisdom, compassion, strength and many other beneficial skills and states.
A clear line between sitting calmly and healthfully with the pain and desperately coping with its oppressive nature is not a guarantee of greater comfort.

Looking for true peace and well-being in worldly details is a recipe for unhappiness and suffering.
Recognizing that there is a clear line between true well-being and my current worldly experience doesn’t automatically grant me the power to influence the pain or replace it with anything more pleasant.

Pain and

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discomfort are not aberrations, but are as natural to the experience of this life as joys and pleasures – and just as temporary. To foster any other belief is to force my will upon this beautiful and organic system of life, in which I am just a visitor.
Honouring the clear line between what is natural and temporary and what is willful and forced has been helping to ease my pain, but it may not for others.

Remembering that there will be days when the whole experience is just too exhausting and I feel like I can’t hack it helps me to practice understanding, compassion, and forgiveness.
The pain may not be at all eased by a clear line between forgiveness and judgment.

Caring for myself with Love and kindness is a sacred practice. Embracing spiritual practice as a cure or fix for … anything, is a deep misinterpretation of that principle.
The pain may not respond at all to clarifying the line between caring for myself and grasping for a fix.

My spiritual practice shapes me and my experience – everyday, in the image of Love and kindness.
Even though I am (hopefully) a more Loving and kind presence, the pain may still persist.

The finite, limited, and contracting nature of this material existence is sacred, valuable, and real and to resist it in any way would be unhealthy and counter-productive.
Because the line between Loving what is, as it is, and resistance is clear, lately the pain has been easier to live with.

How about for you?

In Gratitude:

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc

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