Six Signs of Suffering


“As long as we live in the misperception of being a separate entity, we encounter frustration, confusion, difficulties and turmoil.”Ken McLeod, Wake Up to Your Life

All of our suffering can be linked to the illusion of separation that we experience on a personal level. Every separation we “see” in the outside originates in some inner belief of separation. Although this original belief took root from some life experience (a narcissist parent, a trauma, a lack of intimacy or bonding as a child, abuse, neglect, etc.,) it has now become part of our inner landscape.

When our history teaches separation it can be difficult to notice how we belong to one another and how are intimately part of this world. Seeing only that which separates us means we often miss what binds us in good ways. Our humanity and similarity are hidden behind a myth of differences and complaints.  Instead of going into an encounter curious and open we go in with set judgments and assumptions as a protective seal. We then become habitual separatists – always finding what is wrong, off, or different about the other(s). Our life is wading through a pattern of disconnections and estrangements. We never quite feel we belong because there is no one or place to belong to. The most unfortunate part of this is that it is so culturally engrained and more often than not supported by our family and religious cultures that it becomes unconscious on our part. (Our technological backdrop of on-line communities can, if not done consciously, perpetuate this illusion of separation.)

You have to want to unlearn the path of separation and take the path that takes you in the direction of intimacy, conversation and heart.

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”― Thich Nhat Hanh

“I was estranged from my sister for most of my life. My mother put a wedge between us and kept it there with her complaints and favoritism. Once I healed the divide within myself  I found a real love between my sister and I. We are now in our 50’s and I celebrate this connection.”   – Jewel J.

SIX SIGNS of SEPARATION and accompanying antidote

Here I offer six signs of separation and what simple steps you can take to transform them into an experience of belonging.

1. You make negative assumptions about others.  Antidote: Awareness that you are assuming. Then take on a posture of curiosity.  For more on this read: Assume This. 

2. You are attached to being right. Antidote: Gently admit to yourself, “I have a need to be right about this.” Then ask yourself, “Do I want to be right or happy?” If happiness is what you want then you will be willing and able to let go of your need to be right. Any time I am in an argument I ask myself this, and I always choose happiness.

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

3. You feel disingenuine in your relationships. Antidote: Practice compassionate listening. Take a workshop on how to listen, or join up in one of Parker J. Palmers workshops on Healing The Heart.

“If you love someone but rarely make yourself available to him or her, that is not true love.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ

4. You compare yourself to others: Antidote: Listen and look for similarities; where is the common ground? You practice ways, such as meditation or other mindfulness practices to bring your self more consciously into each moment. You spend quality time in nature.

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

5. Outside circumstances dictate how you feel about yourself and others.  Antidote: Study and apply the Zero Point Agreement. I live life from my side, is the zero point agreement, which means to live from within as a meaning maker. All other agreements and possibilities come down to understanding this core agreement – to live life consciously and purposefully from our side.  To preorder book click on title: The Zero Point Agreement: How to Be Who You Already Are.

6. You tend to complain internally or/and externally: Antidote: Learn to ask for what you want and live life from your side. In basic layman terms: direct your attention to finding the donut (take your mind off the hole).

The Wheel of Initiation is a pilgrimage that heals the separation from within. Give yourself some time to heal that which divides.  Click here to link to book: Wheel of Initiation: Practices for Releasing Your Inner Light.

5 thoughts on “Six Signs of Suffering

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