“Now, I am talking about your suffering. I am not talking about somebody else’s suffering. Let’s just deal with us. For me, suffering is telling me where my mind is clinging. If I experience suffering because I am getting old, it’s because I have a model of myself that’s other than what this is.
“This is what this is, including dying, pain, loss, all of it. The models in our heads about it, and the way we cling to it, is where the root of suffering is.
“So when you wanna get free badly enough, you begin to experience your own suffering as grace. You don’t ask for it. You don’t say, ‘Give me suffering,’ but when it comes you see it as something that’s showing you a place where you are holding. The place to release.” – Ram Dass
I think Ram Dass captured this wisdom perfectly. Buddhism teaches something like pain is a part of life but suffering is optional. I was talking with a friend recently about the importance of letting go of our view of ourselves as the years drift on by. As I age, if I am attempting to hang onto “me” as a much younger person, then I’m setting myself up for suffering. We experience suffering as illness, depression, groundlessness, addiction, your own personal favorite.
Our material bodies wear out – my Daddy used to say “nobody gets out of this world alive.” Sounds funny. And yet, many of us don’t get it. We cling to an illusion that we are the same as some previous age that to us was close to nirvana.
The really cool thing is – as we age, as we let go, as we die to an old identity – we have the opportunity to simultaneously be born into a new, wiser, lighter version of ourselves. To me that’s what the spiritual path is all about. I see more clearly, I release more easily. The ultimate freedom and peace.