Bernadette Roberts on the Path of Suffering
- Paradoxical though it may seem, the passage through
consciousness or self moves contrary to self, rubs it
the wrong way - and in the end, will even rub it out.
Because this passage goes against the grain of self,
it is, therefore, a path of suffering. Both Christ and
Buddha saw the passage as one of suffering, and basically
found identical ways out. What they discovered and revealed
to us was that each of us has within himself or herself a "stillpoint" - comparable, perhaps to the eye of a cyclone,
a spot or center of calm, imperturbability, and non-movement.
Buddha articulated this central eye in negative terms as
"emptiness" or "void", a refuge from the swirling cyclone
of endless suffering. Christ articulated the eye in more
positive terms as the "Kingdom of God" or the "Spirit within",
a place of refuge and salvation from a suffering self.
For both of them, the easy out was first to find that
stillpoint and then, by attaching ourselves to it, by
becoming one with it, to find a stabilizing, balanced
anchor in our lives. After that, the cyclone is gradually
drawn into the eye, and the suffering self comes to an end.
And when there is no longer a cyclone, there is also no
longer an eye. So the storms, crises, and sufferings of
life are a way of finding the eye. When everything is going
our way, we do not see the eye, and we feel no need to find
it. But when everything is going against us, then we find
the eye. So the avoidance of suffering and the desire to have everything go our own way runs contrary to the whole movement
of our journey; it is all a wrong view. With the right view,
however, one should be able to come to the state of oneness
in six or seven years - years not merely of suffering, but
years of enlightenment, for right suffering is the essence of enlightenment. Because self is everyone's experience underlying
all culture. I do not regard cultural wrong views as an excuse
for not searching out right views. After all, each person's
passage is his or her own; there is no such thing as a
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