The Hidden Grace of Pain and Suffering

The Hidden Grace of Pain and Suffering

A long time ago, my talented best friend and spoken word artist Cory Russo wrote a poem about the power of pain and how it can change us entirely. For me, one of the most meaningful lines from this poem was, “I can make an atheist drop to his knees and pray — I AM PAIN.” (Click here to listen to her entire poem!).

This line is meaningful on many levels. For me, it has only become more relevant and meaningful over time, as I relate it to my journey of life’s experiences kicking my ass and deepening my character in the meantime.

It is my journey of a dominating skeptical attitude into openness, as I became more aware that this skepticism was primarily due to my own lack of awareness and knowledge, which in turn led me to believe that I was knowledgeable enough to assert my opinion on things I didn’t know enough about.

Like most people at one time of our lives or another, I was more aware of popular opinion regarding certain topics that seemed “illogical” and this is the stance I would take, without actually having proper experience regarding that topic.

Skepticism obviously isn’t necessarily bad — as everything should be examined properly and skepticism often exists for a reason.

However at the same time, it has the great potential to keep us closed, and doesn’t always allow us to actually examine from a neutral and open mind state. We don’t have to believe, but we don’t necessarily have to be skeptical, either.

Being open is ultimately about getting to a point in life where you have enough humility to understand that our levels of knowledge are always relative and life truly is a much more multi-dimensional place than we can fathom or experience easily here on Earth.

After 34 years on this Earth, I’m at a point now where I look back and see how much openness has given me vs. how much skepticism did. There is no comparison.

For example, if I had allowed skepticism to dominate what was happening to me during any consciousness-expanding experiences I had at a very young age (without knowing what the F was going on with me), I wouldn’t have learned from it the way I did.

During that sensitive time, I had to completely shut out the noise from the external world and really pay attention to what my own self was telling me about this experience. If I had listened to some others, I might have believed instead that I needed to be reeled in with some medication.

Now, to elaborate on pain and suffering.

Many of us that are trying to understand the mystery of our existence often wonder why, if there’s some sort of higher power, that pain and suffering are allowed to exist to the extent that they do. What is their purpose? Why would a higher power make us suffer seemingly needlessly at times, if there is one?

It is something I had pondered on some occasions myself, but as I grow in awareness I feel I’m starting to understand it a bit more.

There is not necessarily one easy answer, as there are multiple reasons why pain and suffering occurs. Sometimes we cause our own, from our own lack of awareness. In those cases it is just simply cause and effect.

For whatever reason, from a young age I had multiple consciousness-expanding experiences that shattered my reality as I knew it.

My entire life felt like an illusion as I had discovered new inner worlds on another consciousness plane, not produced by thought and conception, but as a literal direct experience.

While I learned certain things in the moment of those experiences, it has taken me years to process each one of them and really understand them more over time.

These experiences did not come from a firmly held belief in anything. They were simply something that happened as a result of listening to myself and following these “feelings” I was getting from my intuition.

I was always very eager to share them with people, but with these not being common or well-understood phenomena, I was usually met with responses like, “are you SURE you weren’t on any drugs?”. Thankfully, this did not make me question the validity of my experiences. They had shaken my world in a way that was unlike anything I could have imagined, and I felt like I needed to share what I saw with the entire world. I felt I had a very important message.

But, people learn things at their own rate and in their own due time. It was not my place to control that, as much as my ego desired people to understand. All I could do is tell my story and leave it at that.

After the first experience, I still did have many unanswered questions about life and existence (and still do). There are many things I simply can’t know yet and am not going to pretend to. Each subsequent experience would show me a little more context, but generally what they gave me was more insight into the nature of our true selves, or our essence.

They led me to understand that there is more to our selves than what we experience here on Earth.

Yet as significant as these experiences were, the insights gained from them felt very obvious and clear. This knowledge is something that is with us all the time! It is just blocked by so many elements of our humanly experience. All of it was completely familiar. It was just finding something so essential that I had just long forgotten.

The best way I can explain it is that it was literally like waking up from a dream (the dream in this case being your current understanding and experience of your entire existence) into a completely new “world” where you suddenly meet your “real” self and you directly experience that you had merely been playing this human role your entire life, thinking that the role itself was you.

What an illusion! And what incredibly immense JOY it was to encounter my “real” entire self again! To see that there really IS more than this human drama we are playing out; that all of our sorrows, our worries, our pain, would someday be put in perspective. It feels like such an insane relief.

I had never known joy like what I felt in that experience. I literally cried for days out of happiness in meeting this part of myself. There is no way I could respond except by just an endless release of emotion. In attempting to explain it to my mom, I’m sure she thought I was nuts. I had no words.

There is no comparison between way that I see and understand life after these experiences versus my perspective prior  — i.e., the “me” at that time that thought, “I have no reason to believe there is any form of existence after death or let alone any higher power. Why would I?”

And honestly, at that time, I was right — I didn’t have a reason to believe it. I had no personal experiences or insight into any other mode of existence, and I was never the type to blindly believe things like this. I was never religious, never believed in God (especially not in the traditional sense), and I had been a self-professed atheist or agnostic. I was once actually almost prideful to proclaim that I thought we entirely cease to exist after death.

That being said, words never fully do an experience like this justice. Unless you’ve had a similar experience, it’s easy to underestimate how much this can shift your entire psychological landscape.

It’s not just, “oh I didn’t know this and now I do,” the way typical knowledge acquisition works. No. It felt like I got a whole new operating system — and it mentally opened up door after door to new realizations. My beliefs didn’t change; I was just simply awake.

Occasionally I would casually ponder as to why this knowledge regarding our selves is as uncommon as it is. Why is it for the majority of us that our consciousness levels are lowered to the point that we have no recollection of these things unless we have some sort of consciousness-expanding experience?

I have learned over time that there is a VERY good reason why we aren’t able to easily remember our existence outside the Earth realm. Continuing to play the “human role” after meeting the “essence” or “soul” of ourselves and seeing that it’s so much more massive than this and not confined to this body, can feel very odd at times to say the least. It can make it incredibly more difficult to focus on just having a normal human experience if we are not ready to properly integrate the knowledge with our existence here.

Regardless, I understood that we are here on Earth to have an experience, no matter what that experience entails. Within the experience will be many trials and lessons.

So, any pain and suffering we may go through — it may be seem needless or unjust, but it’s not us or even close to our entire story.

However, suffering WILL ALWAYS deepen our characters and give us perspectives we may not have been able to have had otherwise. It rounds out our character and strengthens our spirit.

Ram Dass speaks on this all the time. He is a former Harvard Psychology professor who turned Hindu spiritual teacher and later in his life suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body.

I’ll take this passage from one of his most recent articles:

“There is a line from a letter that I wrote to the parents of a young girl who was raped and murdered that I would like to share with you. It said, ‘Something in you dies when you bear the unbearable. In other words, you go beyond just the horror and pain of it because it takes you beyond it. You can’t bear it and it is only in the dark night of the soul that you’re prepared to see as God sees and to love as God loves.’

It’s the horrible beauty of the Universe and to realize that there is a wisdom inherent in it, and that wisdom includes suffering and that all suffering is not an error. Until you are resting in a place that understands that, it’s quite presumptuous to think you know best. I have watched in the work I do with people that are dying, where they suffer and suffer and suffer and if I could, as a human emotional heart, I would do everything I could to take away their suffering. It breaks my heart that they’re suffering and I watch as the suffering burns its way until they finally give up because the suffering is so great. I’ve watched as they give up, something emerges in their being that is so beautiful and so radiant and so spiritually innocent, that it’s like they meet a part of their being that has been hidden all their lives. It’s like an egg being cracked open.”

He also talks at length about what suffering through his stroke has given him, and that he wishes that all people could experience the grace that the suffering gave him, but without the unfortunate experience of the stroke itself.

It is from people like Ram Dass and my own consciousness-expanding experiences I was able to have that I feel compelled to share this message:

The experiences we have here on Earth are all for a purpose and there is hidden beauty in them that we will eventually be able to see. The greatest part is that it is not our entire story, so we must have hope that one day we will be able to see the greater context for why we are going through what we are going through.

My wish is that you may retain a glimmer of hope and that every minute, every second that you fight a battle you are strengthening your own spirit (even if it feels like the opposite) and the end result will be something beautiful.

If you’re currently suffering from anything at all, hang in there and know that you are not alone, and there is a bigger picture that you will see one day that will bring you a peace and understanding like you could never imagine.

The wound is the place where the light enters you.” —Rumi

The Mindstate of Abundance vs. The Mindstate of Lack

The Mindstate of Abundance vs. The Mindstate of Lack

Meditation Can Allow You to Conquer So Many of Your Issues

I can’t believe how many issues I’ve solved in my life just by learning how to sit and be mentally still. Meditation has taken me on so many journeys, but even just periodic quiet contemplation has resolved what felt like a subtle, nonspecific recurring fear of the future, and a feeling of being out of control, to a complete resolution.

The latest thing that meditation has accomplished for me is in realizing that the concept of abundance really does stem first from the mind. It helped me realize how many times I’d have somewhat negative thoughts when I’d see other people who were able to do things that I wasn’t — i.e., people who didn’t seem to have my same financial problems and could easily go back to school, for example, and not have to worry about working during it or going into debt; or people who had freed themselves from working corporate jobs and have managed to find a way to live just doing what they want and creating all day, and somehow making it work. People who could travel to different countries at the drop of a hat and not have to worry about the expense; the list goes on.

There are so many things I want to do with my life, and as hard as I feel like I’m swimming towards it, it feels just like I’m swimming against a strong tide. It’s a time where I’m tied down by student loan debt, by trying to get business ideas off the ground and/or more freelance clients, and by somewhat a lack of patience, because every time I see someone doing with their life exactly what I want to be doing, right now, it makes me feel like I need to have it right now before any more time is wasted. Before I get any older. It’s a consistent feeling of racing time, and I simultaneously feel like I shouldn’t have to feel that way but am also stuck in it.

Coming From a Perspective of Lacking Something

While all of this is still true and my soul yearns to live according to my own rules and schedule, what changed is that I finally realized is how much my perspective was always coming from a place of feeling like I lacked something. I honestly didn’t see this before, until after beginning to shift my perspective and seeing the difference. I would look at others’ situations that had something I wanted, and it made the feeling of lack stronger within me. Most of the time I used this feeling of lack as fuel for my fire to stay motivated, and at times it even swayed my decision as far as what I should do with my life. But after long enough, I found this still wasn’t really solving the issue. While there are many ways my life could be improved and I’m always working towards that, that doesn’t actually mean anything is wrong with my life now — in fact, my life is quite good and one that many people might themselves love to have.

I have an amazing relationship, a job with a good working environment, no office politics and great coworkers, I make a decent amount of money (even if so much of it goes to my debt), my life is relatively low stress, I have amazing friends and a strong relationship with my best friend; the list goes on.

So why did it make sense for me to constantly be comparing myself to others’ lifestyles, or ever feeling any lack in mine? While I can see how it happened — I do have a very strong desire for certain things to change — all this time that ended up being spent in strengthening my perspective of lack in my life was not getting me anywhere at all.

Giving Up My Attachment to Money

I began to truly realize, and I’m not sure what triggered it, that I really don’t need a lot of money. I just need to be free of this debt. I don’t need to keep trying to increase my yearly salary necessarily (although it’d be nice), I want to be able to live with hardly any bills at all. I want to have just enough to be able to save and travel often. I really don’t have any interest in buying a house, a new car, or any other super expensive material items.

Realizing this ended up shifting my attitude about money, because I previously found myself so tied to the idea that in order to be truly free, I needed to have money. It just happened naturally after so many struggles with money…seeing how lifestyles and amounts of stress in people vastly differed just because of it. How many people suffer because of it. And, I could help others if I had more money, I could travel, I could save more quickly for retirement, I could pay off my student loans and credit card debt, and so on.

When I truly was able to approach money from the perspective that I didn’t actually NEED to make more money than I am now to be free and do the things I want, it freed up another part of me that again, felt lack in my life in this way.

I realized no matter how broke I may become, it didn’t matter as much to me as being in control of my schedule every day and putting myself in a life situation that allowed my creativity to unfold and blossom even further, that would then allow me to create work that was more meaningful and more “me”. To be able to sleep in an extra hour if I needed it, even if it meant working later. To be able to go on a walk in the middle of the day. Living a rigid schedule that was almost entirely dictated by someone else has always really bothered me.

Releasing Negativity

Once my attitude toward money shifted, it felt like a weight off my shoulders. I knew that I needed to do things in life to free me in the ways I wanted to be freed, but I also knew the idea of needing to do something that will make money was constantly getting in the way.

I’d repeat to myself the phrases I heard people repeatedly say, “just think about exactly how I’d live my life and what I’d do if money weren’t an issue,” and “do what you love and the money will come naturally.” This was a good exercise, but I still wasn’t able to separate myself from my attachment to the idea of needing to make more money. In other words, intellectually knowing and repeating these concepts did not solve the issue.

But, once my thoughts began to shift from realizing I really did have enough as it is, I just need to make some lifestyle changes that will align better with my soul and get rid of this debt. But I have enough as it is, and I truly feel a contentment that has come from this realization. I can say with confidence now that I know what I truly want and I don’t feel the issue of money pressing on me anymore. And I feel confident that when I can fully align my lifestyle with how I feel it should be, nothing but more abundance, creativity, and happiness will come from it.

Energy In, Energy Out

You get the same energy out of the universe that you put into it. Just becoming aware of my negative thought patterns and feeling of lack made me realize what it was doing to me. Meditation and self-reflection also immensely helped. The guided meditations that Deepak Chopra offers speak exactly on this subject and they also helped me to realize where true abundance really comes from.

I now feel abundance in small things, like arranging beautiful healthy meals like a fruit platter of all various types of fruits and being able to fully enjoy it and appreciate that I’m able to feed myself well and make the same things for others. Of having a few amazing and loving relationships in my life and creating memories with them. Not that I didn’t appreciate these things before, but now I feel much more complete.

As mentioned in the beginning of this post, I’ve discovered for myself now that true abundance really does come first from the mind, and it will manifest outwardly eventually. It can be very difficult to feel free in the midst of not ideal external circumstances, for sure, but when you are free of negative thought patterns and look hopefully and positively toward the present and the future, nothing but good can come from it.


Skip to content
This Website is committed to ensuring digital accessibility for people with disabilitiesWe are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and applying the relevant accessibility standards.
Conformance status