For the last few months, the blog has been silent. And not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I’ve been in deep contemplation. You see, I’m going through a dark night of the soul – a time that most spiritual seekers go through at least once in their lives where one’s spirituality is thrown into chaos and your beliefs are called into question. This is a time of forced reexamination, of doubt, and unfortunately, of despair. The end result of such a difficult time is only one of three outcomes: strengthened faith, changed belief, or the complete dissolution of faith and belief altogether.
My best friend of nearly 20 years, Ann (I’m calling her by her middle name for privacy reasons) nearly died back in November. I got the call on a Sunday that she was undergoing emergency brain surgery and that her chances were grim. All I could do was beg the universe not to take her now, when her life had only amounted to unmitigated suffering for so long. It hardly seemed fair to end her story after a decade of tragedy and struggle. To tell you the story of Ann’s life’s struggles would take an entire book. If it were possible to encapsulate a person’s life into a paragraph or two, I might describe a shining soul, beautiful inside and out, who has endured a truly remarkable level of suffering in her young life. Constant, life-threatening illnesses, loss and abandonment have been the general theme of her life, with the last 10 years the hardest to endure. Starting with a misdiagnosed heart condition, Ann underwent a splenectomy from a tumor on her spleen, two pulmonary embolisms that nearly killed her, double-pneumonia (twice), a several-year battle with advanced Lyme’s disease, and finally, the discovery of an AVM on her brain; a collection of abnormal blood vessels that can cause stroke or aneurysm. Her insurance company denied Ann the first-rate treatment, and so Ann was forced to undergo radiation therapy developed just after world war two. Instead of shrinking the AVM, her brain reacted poorly and swelled, later developing a spreading necrosis. Ann was forced to undergo chemotherapy in an effort to stop the necrosis as well as take the highest doses of steroids available to control the swelling in her brain. She developed Cushing’s syndrome from the steroids, and endured terrible headaches and pains in her body. Surrounding these health crisis was a host of minor health issues that most egregiously I’ve probably forgotten because they were so numerous and so constant. She also contended with a family member struggling with mental illness, her father’s life-long illness and premature passing, and a difficult marriage that finally ended in a devastating divorce only three weeks before the swelling in her brain became so severe that it compressed her brain stem and threatened her life.
The most miraculous thing about Ann and what I find so incredibly inspiring, is that she has never allowed the suffering in her life to make her embittered or angry. And when she was well enough, she has lived well. She’s traveled, she’s learned, she’s loved unconditionally and shown extraordinary kindness to others. During our countless discussions of her illnesses and prognosis, Ann has always remained spiritual and humble, hoping that she might finally get well in order to use her suffering to help others. Privately, I felt certain that this must be Ann’s path. Everything in the spirituality books tells me that earth is a school, and that we have the opportunity to learn through suffering in order to become better souls and share our wisdom and grace with others. Ann never suffered from the ills of materialistic wants or desires, and would have – saint-like – used her experience to help others. She only needed to win the battle against her own illnesses first. With each small win, we both wondered if the time had come for her to begin following her life’s destiny and using what she’d learned. We never doubted that Ann’s struggles were part of a greater purpose. But the next battle was always just around the corner, and we wondered how much suffering was enough to learn the lessons of compassion and humility when it seemed she had so much to give already.
That Sunday, however, my spiritual optimism came crashing down around me. All I could see was pointless suffering. Endless pain. And possibly, the abrupt end of a life that could have been dedicated to helping others. Hadn’t Ann suffered enough? What kind of God or higher self or spiritual guide would continually heap this amount of suffering on a soul until they either broke down into self-loathing, anger and bitterness or simply gave up and died? What was the point? Was there a point?
Ann miraculously survived the brain surgery. But the swelling in her brain created trauma, resulting in memory loss and confusion. One of Ann’s close friends who is a nurse practitioner flew down to Florida to speak with the doctors and do what she could to help. Once I got a chance to speak with her, she told me the unvarnished truth: Ann isn’t responding as well to the steroids as they had hoped, her brain is continuing to swell, and the part that chilled me most: Ann’s personality has changed. Although I knew that traumatic brain injury could cause all manner of personality, behavior and memory changes, it was difficult to accept. I had always considered Ann’s sweet personality to be her soul shining through, not just the particular configuration of her neurons.
A week later, while our friend was helping Ann settle into a rehab center, I was able, for the first time, speak with her on the phone. It was a short conversation. And it was surreal. I felt as though I was talking to a stranger. Her voice was not the same pitch, her inflections completely different. And I had the sense, as I was talking to her, that she didn’t fully remember who I was. I felt like she regarded me like a co-worker, or an acquaintance. She got off the phone quickly with me, handing me back to our friend who later tried to reassure me by telling me how glad Ann was to have heard from me. But nothing could shake my sadness.
Was this still my Ann? Could a brain injury really sever the deep soul connection I had always counted on? And I hated myself for selfishly grieving the loss of my friend, when I should have been only concerned for her physical well-being and healing. I was deeply concerned, of course, but I was also rattled. I sobbed after getting off the phone with her. Sobbed for her pain and suffering, sobbed for the injustice of it all.
I could only think about Phineas Gage, the famous case of a man who survived being impaled by a railroad spike through his head, damaging his frontal lobe. The formally genial and kind man became an enraged, troublesome bully for the rest of his short life before he died from alcoholism. His case illustrated how damage to the frontal lobe of the brain can drastically affect a person’s core personality and has long been flouted by materialists to prove that the brain not only creates consciousness, but creates the quality of one’s personality that we spiritualists ascribe to having a soul and being a unique creation of the universe. Is it all just neurons and cells and the physics of atoms?
I thought of the pain of the families of Alzheimer’s sufferers everywhere, who watch the people they love disappear, like shadows covering the sun, and turn into strangers. I also thought of the miracle of terminal lucidity, where the occluded soul reveals itself shortly before death, bypassing the damaged brain and revealing for precious minutes to hours, the hidden soul inside with personality and memories in-tact. But mostly, I just thought about Ann. Her suffering. Her endless suffering.
I couldn’t write anything on the blog. I couldn’t even continue with my spiritual work and research during this time. It felt hollow and empty. I felt embarrassed and ashamed for the times I’d spouted the same old bullshit about ‘choosing difficult lives’ for the purpose of learning, and how earth was meant to be challenging, but there was a purpose for all after all. How could I say such things? I’d never lost a child, or watched a love one succumb to Alzheimer or face cancer. I’ve faced some harsh difficulties in my life, to be sure, but this was the first time that I was met with truly unjust suffering in the extreme. And I felt the same anger and doubt and loss of faith that I have seen in others enduring such tragedy. It made me marvel at those who find even greater strength in faith during times such as these, when I was so ready to throw it all out of the window.
And so I was driving on a cold Thursday, contemplating everything I had previously believed. I cast my mind back to when I was in my early 20s and I had first picked up Seth Speaks randomly in a old dusty bookstore. Ann was with me that day, as she was often during that blissful time of our youth, before death, illness, addiction and financial and emotional tragedy struck us each down in turn.
The core tenet of Seth Speaks, and indeed all of the Seth books, is a single philosophy: You create your own reality. I had built my spirituality on this idea. It turned a chaotic life of unknowns into something that I had a hope of directing toward calmer seas. Instead of seeing myself as a victim of life’s randomness, I found myself empowered by these words. I knew I would still be enduring pain and loss and suffering, but it was not needless suffering. There was, according to Seth, a purpose behind it. Thoughts and beliefs have the most incredible power to influence your life, and by examining your beliefs and expectations, you could begin to improve your reality.
Ann and I clung to that belief so long, waiting for the time when the illnesses and tragedy that always seemed to befall her would end, and she could put these hard-fought lessons into practice. When things only got worse over the years, we struggled to look for the lessons that we were meant to learn, striving to unlock the one thing that would end the suffering. Was it lack of self-love? Fear of abandonment? Some hubris that we failed to recognize in ourselves? If all of this suffering was purposeful, then it must be the result of some wrong thinking, some damaged ideology or some arrogance that we failed to correct. But for a kind person like Ann, I couldn’t think of any thought or deed she possessed that required such harsh corrective action. Finally, our discussions began to revolve around the idea of generational curses, karmic retribution, even the idea of an onslaught of evil spirits. This was spiritual desperation in a dark morass of impending hopelessness.
As I drove through the rainy, cold night, I questioned it. I questioned all of it. Everything I learned, everything I believed or wanted to believe about my personal spirituality. I was reminded that even Jane Roberts, Seth’s channeler, couldn’t ‘believe’ herself out of her final illness, a painful condition that left her bedridden in the months before her death.
I pulled up to a light, and I saw a license plate in front of me that caught my eye: KJV 1123. November 23rd is my birthday, and the date of the last text message from Ann before her medical emergency. The meaning of the first three letters, KJV, rang out in my head automatically: King James Version. I’m not sure why because I’m certainly no bible-reader or Christian, but with nothing else to lose, I googled “King James version chapter 11, verse 23”.
And here’s what it said:
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Now my doubt was already so complete, I wasn’t sure if I could believe this was a sign. I had already been praying and asking for guidance, and the universe had been silent until now. I wasn’t receiving the reassurance or synchronicity that I’d so relied on at other times in my life, or at the very least, I couldn’t see it.
But here it was – an answer to the very thing I was doubting only a minute before. Can we truly affect our reality with our beliefs? And the answer I got was ‘yes’. But as amazing as this synchronicity was, it didn’t answer my question on suffering. As I reflect on this now, maybe I was asking the wrong question. Maybe the question is really, “what beliefs do we have that create such suffering?”
And that, my friends, I have no answer to. I cannot think of any belief so terrible that my beautiful, vivacious Ann must lay alone in a cold hospital a thousand miles away, her beautiful long, dark hair shorn to her skull, her body ravaged by the side effects of so many medications, and her mind clouded by a traumatized brain.
And so, when I have the mind and strength to write, I’m going to explore the philosophy of suffering. How does religion and spirituality answer the perennial question: why do bad things happen to good people? How has philosophy attempted to answer it? We all already know the answer that materialists give, but to accept that answer would be to assign the same meaning to Ann’s suffering as one might give to a coin flip or random number generator. I refuse to believe – at least not yet – that Ann was simply unlucky.
Before Ann’s brain surgery, she was reading about the Catholic saints. No doubt she was finding comfort in learning about the lasting good that was revealed through their suffering. I, too, would like to learn of the suffering of others and how it has served to inspire good works. Perhaps learning about how people great and small have dealt with pain and suffering can reveal some mitigating truths that can help us to face the pain in our lives with greater strength. Maybe I, too, can do good in the face of Ann’s suffering.
It is my last hope, anyway. And for you, the few readers who made it to the end of this long, sad, rambling post: How have you handled suffering in your life? Do you feel your suffering has been pointless, or has time revealed a purpose for it, or are you undecided about it? I genuinely would like to hear your perspective.
Edit: I asked my mother to read my post draft, and she added her response to the end. No stranger to suffering herself, I thought I’d share her words:
It should not be your last hope. Hope should always stand with you, like a friend. Bad things happen to good people to make good people better. Darkness follows light. Light comes from darkness. What you need is time. You can not understand suffering in a vacuum. You must continue to move forward even if you have to crawl. You must continue to dwell on your pain until a new reality rises up and you are stronger and more faithful to your core. It is the very definition of belief or faith. It must be stronger than you are; as a blind man sees and a deaf man hears.
62 thoughts on “Dark Night of the Soul: The Purpose of Suffering(?), Part I”
Sorry for your pain. My quick reaction is that neither your friend’s journey nor your own is at an end – so perhaps it’s too early to draw lessons or conclusions from this event.
My second thought is that as with people who receive revelations during NDEs but can’t remember them afterwards, the lessons and growth maybe well planned / controlled by the Oversouls of your friend and yourself. Perhaps if our Earthbound lower personalities become aware of “the Plan”, there is a danger we will avoid the Path and postpone the Lesson.
Annoying as it is, it’s a bit like the stock Christian responses of “have Faith” and “its God’s will”.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you for your comment. Yes, faith is something I struggle with and yet it’s exactly what I should be clinging to right now. I guess it’s always been hard for me to rely on faith alone, when I prize evidence so strongly. But this is a good lesson for me. When there is no evidence, all that is left is faith. Can I still believe in all of the tenets of spirituality when all I have to go on is faith? Regardless, you are right. I can’t lose all hope because I do feel like there must be a reason why Ann survived. If her story was truly over, she would have passed on. She could come back from this, and there is a sense that I have that she has to make the choice to come back herself. I can’t pull her through this, as much as I want to tell her to ‘FIGHT!’, I can’t. There are a lot of lessons in this too. I have to surrender to ‘God’s plan’ or her life’s path, or destiny. As much as I want to control my reality, I have to accept there are some aspects of this that I have no control over. Lastly, I have no doubt that if we were aware of the master plan, we’d avoid it at all costs. They say that’s the reason we come into this life with ‘spiritual amnesia’. It’s just so hard to trust that our higher selves have our best interests at heart when it sometimes just feels like punishment.
Thanks so much for your reply, John. Take care,
This is indeed a very difficult experience to wrestle with, and I think it begs a deeper perspective than what most of popular spirituality can address. It certainly drove me into the depths of awful (catastrophic) existential despair when I encountered it. I will share a bit from my own philosophical views and experience with these questions, perhaps it will make some sense. It is really hard to let go of “happy ending” beliefs about suffering. Suffering just is. And good people often have a lot more of it than others. There is no escape from it, really. There is no undoing of beliefs that undoes it. There is no way to overcome it, when its this kind of suffering. Being “good” doesn’t protect us from it. (Those who do not know of this kind of suffering dismiss it, but that’s a kind of flippant ignorance of the ugly reality of things). There is often no service to humanity at the end of this kind of experience. You are being confronted with the primal challenge of accepting suffering, rather than hoping to overcome it. There is little to do, but to surrender and endure (mindfully, sure), but still. It is supposed to make you angry, full of rage, full of doubt and pain and injustice and grief – that’s the point. It is supposed to throw out all of your previous beliefs and confidence about how the world works and make you feel universal human suffering. And it’s also part of the gift that Ann is giving you – this opportunity to go into the depths of darkness. It’s really painful and really hard, but Mom is right. Just keep going through what you’re going through. At some point the rage clears out, and the darkness of this lifts, and you will have been softened by the entire experience. A new version of spirituality will return, when it’s time. It will deepen you. Much love and empathy for the time being. You are not alone in this.
LikeLiked by 3 people
Your response was so kind and thoughtful, thank you so much for taking the time to write. I can tell that you’ve been down this path yourself. You’ve hit the nail on the head in terms of why this particular issue is so hard to deal with. I do have a ‘happy ending’ belief about suffering and I hadn’t considered it quite in those terms until I read your words and thought, ‘yeah – that’s exactly it.’ And even though I know that suffering can be unfair and unreasonable and unjustified, I have a hard time accepting that the purpose for this suffering may never reveal itself to me. I have this need to know why these things are happening, but I need to be able to accept that I may never know ‘why’, or maybe there is no ‘why’. Surrender. It’s so damn hard to let go of my need for control. I guess, after thinking about it, that’s the hardest thing for me to do – surrender. It implies that I must either have faith that there is a purpose even if I don’t know what it is, or that I must accept that there is no purpose to suffering, it’s just a side effect of life on earth. Both are frightening prospects to me, but it’s something I am going to think about deeply for a few days. I wish I could accurately convey how much it means that you and the others here have taken the time to read my post and reply with such amazing, insightful and profound comments. As such, my most heartfelt thanks to you, Angela, for your reply.
All the best,
it is as it is, there is no more to say. Reading the teachings of Meister Eckhart, a 13th century Christian mystic is an eye opener, his teachings are very similar to Advaita and the Bhagavad Gita. He died before he could be tried for heresy. One sentence I thought was suitable for what you are going through. “Many who pray the Lords prayer, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ do so and yet complain about the suffering that they encounter in life”. You are not the doer, you are the perceiver (of God’s (universal consciousness’s) will) You perceive that which happens in your space but it is not given that you may understand. Detachment is required, you,the finite body and mind, are on the stage but consciousness, the totality,your true esense, is in the audience watching, never judging, never intervening. There is space in consciousness for grieving, for anger, for joy, for good and evil, it is as it is, you are the space in which things happen, you are not what happens.
LikeLiked by 1 person
This comment will be very “undeep”, but I’ve been watching Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. From the very beginning and all throughout the show they warn you that there will not be a happy ending. There will not be any grand justice administered. But when you watch the show, you can’t stop the feeling that at some point, eventually, reason will win out and the good will be rewarded for all their suffering. Surely the story must build to a great payoff, not only for the main characters, but for the viewers investing the time to watch.
Then you are reminded by the narrator in every episode that the story is full of misery and woe, and that you should “look away”. But we keep watching! And we keep looking for clues that it’s not all for naught, only to be confronted by more confusion and setbacks.
What is it about human nature that continues to hold out hope even when explicitly told that the story will not ever have a happy ending? Is it a characteristic that we all share? Perhaps even atheists look forward to the impossible (by their definition) final moment of existence when all goes black and with proud indignation they can finally proclaim “I told you so”. Everyone wants their grand payoff, even those who believe there won’t be one. It’s as if we were programmed that way, in a manner far deeper than simple survival instinct would dictate. Surely there is a reason.
LikeLiked by 2 people
There is no happy end for the finite body mind complex, in effect it doesn’t really exist, your body is perceived by the mind and the mind is merely a collection of concepts, your ‘story,’ what you have been taught by society, a collection of experiences, your DNA was given to you, even your name was given to you, there is nothing original there, no ‘you’, all your hate’s and desires were taught, your ambitions only for the ego, all that will disappear. That which manifested you,me, each blade of grass,every sun and black hole is the totality (the Godhead, consciousness) it’s power brought God into existence, it’s arm of creation. The totality is still, without movement without quality, the powerful nothingness that is everything at the same time, the feeling of presence in you, the unborn never dying ‘I am’. God is its movement, the power of manifestation. That which is manifested is not real because it is dependent on the power of God, consciousness. In the same way that a wave can only exist because of the water, the wave appears to be real but it is dependent on the water, the water doesn’t need the wave but the wave needs the water.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Nothing ‘undeep’ about your connection to ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, I often see meaning in everyday things, and sometimes I find the most profound messages through random occurrences – like the license plate indecent, for example. Your insight is profound, nonetheless, and you make a good point. We ARE programmed for hope, we do yearn for justice and fairness. Why is that? Why, when so much of the world makes no sense and is so unfair. I think that’s why we are drawn to spirituality – it helps us to try to make sense of the senseless, even if our ‘payoff’ isn’t until after we’ve died and we have a bigger picture to drawn on. If Michael Newton’s work is accurate, then some of the things that happen to us in our lifetimes have nothing to do with the current life we are living, but revolve around some drama from multiple past lives. If that’s the case, then from the perspective of our single life here and now, nothing would make sense. We are working off of too little information. On the other hand, we might have this deep-seeded knowing that ultimately, there is a reason and/or purpose, but not one that we can conceive of while in the body.
Thank you for your insight and for taking the time to write, Christopher. I appreciate it. 🙂
Thanks Jenn, I really enjoy your blog. What led me hear was a Google search for “the void”. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the multidimensional after-life. At end of part 2, there was a sneak peek of part 3 that sounded fascinating, but I’ve never been able to find it. Did it ever come to fruition?
Also, I read a lot of NDERF stories, and often ppl say they were sent back because they had more that they needed to do or learn. Often it seems those folks don’t have a clue what it might be, other than perhaps taking care of a sick parent in the future (which certainly is plausible). I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what things I’m supposed to learn or achieve in this life (as surely we all do). My life is fairly boring and rudimentary, I don’t expect to have some grand awakening or perform some heroic deed before I die, but it would be nice to know I passed a few tests successfully. Then a thought occurred to me, what if the big tests happened already, and I didn’t notice? Or in my mind I think I passed a test but I didn’t? Maybe when folks are sent back from NDE it’s not so they can take some future action, but it’s meant to give them more time to reflect and contemplate on their life such that they might have eureka moment and say “Oh my God, my perception of that past event has been wrong all these years, what a fool I’ve been!” Boggles my mind to think I may need to fully psychoanalyze myself to discover from my past the thing(s) I was meant to learn, coupled with trying to figure out what my future actions should be. Jenn, based on your writings, it seems like this is how you think of all the time, it must be daunting and exhausting. Thank you for the time and effort that you put into it and I wish you well with your current situation.
Also Jenn, based on the title of your article, I assume you’ve read the book by St John of the Cross? https://books.google.com/books?id=5UwhCwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
I suspect the things that happen to us are at least partly due to the “social field” we are connected to in a spiritual sense. In other words, it`s not always about us. For example, if I were to win millions in the Lottery, my wife would certainly expect me to give large sums to her adult children, who are struggling. But maybe they are struggling for their own spiritual reasons, and how do I know that isn`t the precise reason why I will never win a lottery?
It also occurs to me that maybe we agree to incarnate into a world where randomness can and does happen, and we said “OK, I will take my chances for the sake of experiencing physicality.” That kind of lets God off the hook, doesn`t it?
And maybe the really advanced folks are doing a Bohdisattva thing, a Christ thing—and bearing the suffering which others deserve but could not endure it themselves without some kind of spiritual damage.,
I don`t know—just sayin.
LikeLiked by 1 person
You make some very good points. I’ve heard of the first two, but the last point caught me by surprise. Is there a spiritual philosophy in the Eastern religions where one person might take on the burden of suffering for others? Its very interesting to think about. Then again, there have been many spiritual teachers who have had lives of great difficulty and struggle. Their struggle both inspired and served as a model for others who are dealing with hardship and pain in their lives. Christians are called to be like Christ, which often is interpreted as being kind or forgiving. Maybe being ‘Christ-like’ is actually more about acceptance and faith in spite of enormous doubt, fear and pain. Maybe there are some people who are given heavier burdens because they can show others how to carry their own burdens with grace and kindness. I’ve certainly learned a lot from watching Ann deal with her struggles, and I’ve always marveled at her ability to not get angry, resentful or bitter about the raw hand she was dealt. It is truly inspiring, and it has been something that everyone who knows and loves her has remarked about. She’s a strong soul. It’s just really hard watching her be tested again and again with more and more difficult trials. Thanks for giving some interesting things to think about, Lorne!
The following quote is from the website which has the link below it. The tradition is Tibetan Buddhism.
Some of the advice in the first part sounds naive—even platitudinous, or “merely (?)” a kind of Stoicism.
Also, there may be some translation problems across cultures, such that this man is speaking of experiences in meditation and yet sounds to us like he is promising magic and miracles.
Nevertheless, I will say this—the idea that an Evolved person might have chosen to make Objective on the Earth Plane the kind of meditation they practiced in past lives or on higher planes during life in the Spirit World occurred to me spontaneously—then I went looking for an answer to your question about whether there is an Eastern religion that talks bout this—and I found this website and quote.
It is also the case that I was once told by a Spiritualist medium that I had lived and meditated in the Himalayas in a previous life of my own.
What I take from this quote is that the pain and suffering don`t stop, but the Meaningfulness generated by the meditation of regarding it as being (somehow) a service to others helps one to deal with it.
“You do this meditation of taking others’ sufferings and then the rest of the time, think, “I have taken others’ sufferings and disease and now I am experiencing these on their behalf.” The rest of the time try to remember this again and again, “I am experiencing this suffering for others.” If you have relationship problems, think, “I am experiencing this problem for the numberless other sentient beings who have relationship problems or who will have them in the future.” If you have a disease, think that you are experiencing it on behalf of all sentient beings. Try to think this again and again, again and again.
When you change your attitude and think that you are experiencing the problem on behalf of others, your mind is happy. Even if the disease is incurable, when you use it to practice, there’s happiness in your mind. Even though there may be some physical pain, the mind is happy. With training, it happens like this.”
Can we create meaning and purpose in the midst of great suffering, without having the answer to IT’S meaning or purpose? This is, for me, perhaps the core question.
As background, I am battling a very severe addiction to benzodiazepines (prescribed for intractable insomnia) which has involved long periods of indescribable horror, as well as extended periods of relative stability, albeit with life threatening ptsd ever present. I have pushed myself to the edge of my mortality many times in my attempt to unhook my brain from this filth, incl. multiple emergency room trips, to no ultimate avail. It seems ever more doubtful that this ordeal will even be survived, much less surmounted, over the long haul (I’m 51), though I will fight against it tooth and nail to the end, whether that is three years or thirty three years from now.
In the stable times, when there is no withdrawal psychosis, or seizing, I have to decide, what will I do knowing it is a temporary reprieve. Do I just lick my wounds and wallow in bitterness? YES, sometimes I do!. I am decidedly human and i am not, by my lights, heroic.
But when I can, i try to accomplish just two things: make beauty, and show kindness. The first I do through woodworking, and the second I do in whatever small ways I find available to me (there are endless ways). Neither seems like it amounts to much, but people have made clear to me just how much they value both.
In mathematics the symbol delta (a triangle) means “difference” or “change in”. I have come to view my own quest for meaning in the face of seemingly meaningless suffering, as an endeavor to make the inputs to my life, both the good and the bad, be outmatched by the quality of the outputs I feed back into the world. That is, for my life to have as large a positive delta as I can possibly muster. This is not my answer FOR the suffering, it is my answer TO the suffering. I will outmatch it’s ugliness and brutality, it’s lack of intrinsic purpose, with beauty and kindness. I will do what I can, within my meager powers, to bend the arc of my little corner of the human condition in the “right” direction. Countless human beings have done this, and often to a much much greater degree than I ever will. They absorb, as has your friend, extraordinary suffering, mind boggling injustice, and through acts of moral will and courage they create strong powerful positive deltas with their lives. This ramifies out into the larger world via the ripple effect. Their extraordinary outputs become others blessed inputs. If these recipients commit to “max out” their own positive delta, given the leg up they recieved from the goodness, and courage of another, then the arc bends still further. The parable of the widow giving her two mites applies here. If you have inherited hell on earth, your mere smile, and refrain from complaint, may accord you a greater positive delta than anything a healthy, wealthy, attractive, nurtured, governor or CEO ever achieves. I suspect Ann has already accomplished this.
Life in this world hands each of us a particular plate, laden with the ingredients of a particular fate. At the end of our journey, we hand back to the living world a plate laden with the sum total of our words and actions in this life.
Do we hand back something better than what we were handed? Do we bend the arc?
LikeLiked by 2 people
Beautifully written! So inspirational! I’m literally in awe. You transformed my recent thoughts, as recent as just today, into an eloquent response that I totally and completely agree with wholeheartedly down to the core of my soul! ~only I couldn’t articulate it quite as well..or at all! Again, kudos on the writing. You have a gift! And it’s always nice meeting like minded people, even if on-line, where ever you live! At least I do know you exist! Living where I’m from is hard after having a spiritual awakening and feeling alone. Not complaining. I’ll smile and love and try to be as positive as I can as much as I can..I get off track a lot but I’ll keep pulling myself right back to where I need to be until i don’t have to anymore!
So, Yea! What she said!!
LikeLiked by 2 people
What an exceptionally kind and uplifting response. I’m humbled and honored. Thank you so much.
A really excellent comment which I’ve passed along. Many good thoughts to ponder.
Regards sleep issue. Some things I’ve tried that have work. Alprazolam 1/4 of a 2 mg tablet has worked well but it’s a prescription thing. I would not suggest daily use as it might lose it effectiveness. And a more natural thing is CBN oil. It is gentle and worked for the week i had access to it.
Jenn has a fine community of friends here.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you very much. Your own post edified me as well. I hope Jenn is deriving at least a little sustenance and encouragement from everyone’s heartfelt expressions here. Ann’s burdens are simply incredible.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I am acutely familiar with the indescribable horror, terrifying loneliness and the abject physical pain and discomfort that benzo addiction brings. Everyone talks about the horrors of opiate withdrawal (which are absolutely hellish, don’t get me wrong), but benzos are the worst possible withdrawal one can experience, and not many people realize that benzo withdrawal needs to be medically supervised, which you undoubtedly know. My heart goes out to you, Rich, truly, for what you are facing. No one who hasn’t experienced a physical addiction first-hand has any clue. It’s hell on earth wrapped up in a nightmare that never ends. I get it. Its the kind of thing that will strips away any veneer, any hubris, any hint of falseness and brings one to the very limitations of their humanity. For anyone reading this who thinks I’m exaggerating, I’m not.
That being said, I love your philosophy of combating the ugliness in the world by adding a little beauty and love of your own. Ann certainly tried to do that as best as she could when she was well, and I certainly have no excuse not to adopt this philosophy as well. Its another beautiful reminder that we all have a responsibility to the sum total of this world, to leave it a little better than we found it, however we can. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. Rich, I will pray for you that you can find a way to get out from under the benzos. If not, at least, to get to a point where you feel physically stable. I will pray that the right person – doctor, therapist, friend, whomever – will come into your life to lead you to the right medical resources to help you through this journey.
Sending love and strength to you,
Thanks so much Jenn. You’re a real beacon of goodness and intelligent thoughtfulness, indeed brilliance. I can tell you “get it” as very few do, and that alone has lifted me today. Thanks for the ripple.
I wish I had some kind of deep, detailed, perceptive response that would help answer your questions or give you a new light in which to view all that you are facing right now. When my teenage baby sister passed away two years ago, I was beside myself with agony, dispair and darkness. One night after contemplating if I even wanted to be alive, I came across your blog, I commented on a post and anxiously waited for a response… waiting some flicker of hope. And you replied. A reply that gave me comfort and peace and helped give me the strength to keep pushing on, and I can’t thank you enough for that. So wherever you are in the world, I want you to know that tonight I’m sending you healing energy, loving energy and positive intentions your way and I hope it reaches you and you can find some peace, maybe some answers, or even just a flicker of hope through your darkness. XX
LikeLiked by 2 people
A beautiful post…
I was so touched by your reply. It reminded me that I can little good by walling myself away and ignoring everything and everyone outside of my own bubble of remorse. After posting, I did feel a lot better, and then this amazing response came in from you and others that I’ve been reading slowly and digesting over the last few days. I’ve come to the realization that I need to reach out more, and also have compassion for others even when I’m hurting or in doubt. Your healing energy and positive intentions were very clearly received and so very much appreciated, more than you can probably know. ❤
Wishing you all the best and much love,
This is such a touching and in some way beautiful piece ❤️ It gets into my core because I recognize the vibration of sorrow and despair. I was there for many years questioning everything I knew.
Sometimes I think that, as harsh as it sounds, some people go through suffering to teach us others about it. Maybe Ann is actually giving everything she wanted but in a different way than anyone would have wished for her. It can seem such an injustice but after everything something in my has never lost hope that there is a higher purpose even though I cannot see it and maybe in a way that I don’t see or want to acknowledge as the purpose.
I don’t have the answers only speculations and humble faith and I feel deeply for everyone suffering ❤️
LikeLiked by 3 people
Thank you, Maria, for writing. After reading all of these beautiful comments, it seems to me that we, as humans on this earth, have more in common through our suffering than anything else. You might think there were more compassion in the world for all that we have collectively faced. Thanks for adding your voice of support. I’m trying to have faith that Ann is on the right path, whatever that is and despite what objectively seems like a ridiculous amount of pain. I hope I can retain my faith as you have. I’m trying. 🙂
I should have read the comments of your other readers. There is little I can add to these. Your willingness to reveal your struggle has produced, for me, the most real, insightful, comments of your blog to date.
Real faith, the faith that can move mountains, or at least keep your head above water now, is not won cheaply.
To doubt now is to discard all the work of your blog.
Oh, to have a mother who could say such words to you.
“Night is a time of rigor, but also of mercy. There are truths which one can see only when it’s dark”
“Life is God’s novel. Let him write it.” Issac Bashevis Singer
“God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas but for scars.”
Keep on keeping on
LikeLiked by 2 people
So many beautiful thoughts and comments, we are here for you Jenn, Love and Light!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I am overwhelmed by the love and kindness I’ve received – and so very grateful. It’s been a shining light in a dark time for me, and I can’t express how moved I was to receive such thoughtful and caring replies. Thank you, Annalise. I love your name, by the way, it was my grandmother’s name and I’ve always thought it was the most beautiful name. Thanks for your kind words of support. 🙂
All the best,
LikeLiked by 1 person
At the new year, a client told me about a book that was helpful to her: FROM QUESTIONING TO KNOWING: 73 Prayers to Transform Your Life, by Lisa Barnett. I read it and have recommended it to several other people. I’m not “selling” (I do not know Ms. Barnett), but you can read more about it here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XHWJ3CG/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
I just purchased the book you recommended. Although its not something I usually might go for first, I was won over by all of the positive feedback and honestly, 73 prayers sounds exactly like what I could use right now. Maybe it will help me focus more on faith and positivity which I could direct back to Ann, instead of the anger and negativity I’ve been feeling. Thank you so much for the recommendation – I’ll let you know what I think after I read through it. 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
As someone who’s gone through two dark nights of the soul (including transitioning from being a Christian to being a free-thinker), I can say that they suck. Few things come close than to go through an existential crisis that includes your most cherished spiritual beliefs. I can’t offer any insights into suffering (aside from believing that it’s an inevitable part of living, and that glorifying it in any way is abhorrent), but these are the three techniques that have helped me the most:
*Take everything one day and one step at a time. Staying focused on what’s happening now – and the steps you can take to try and make things better – is more productive than worrying yourself sick about what might happen tomorrow, a month, or a year from now.
*Ask God/Source to guide you through the day according to your highest good, and with ease and grace – which I picked up from NDEr Nancy Rynes (https://thespiritway.blogspot.com/2018/08/with-ease-and-grace.html) – If you’re going to ask the Supreme Being to guide you, it can’t hurt to say, ‘Look, I’ll do my best to do what you ask, but please try to make it as easy as possible on me.’
*Ask God/Source to send angels to surround and help you through your day. If things are really difficult, or you’re going to face something equally hard, ask for God/Source to send Archangel Michael to help.
I can’t objectively prove that these techniques work, but I can say from personal experience that whenever I ask for guidance in getting through something, or, more importantly, for the strength and courage to do so, those prayers seem to be answered at a much higher frequency.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Dear Imperfect Glass,
Thank you so much for providing me with some concrete steps that I can try. I’m really going to try what you’ve suggested. Your first bullet point is, for me, the absolute hardest. I am wracked with worry constantly about what’s going to happen, mostly with Ann, but with the other people in my life that I love who are having difficulties as well. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and it’s consuming me. I like your idea of asking for our higher source to please make it easier on us to bear the burdens. I’ve always asked that my strength rise to the occasion of what is required, but I’m all for making things less difficult! I don’t know what I believe in in terms of a higher power, whether it’s God or our higher selves, or guides – but I’ve been talking to them while I drive. Mostly in anger, which is probably not very productive. I’ll try a different tack.
Thank you very much – your suggestions are constructive and I’ll report back if I feel that I’ve had more success with this nicer, more conciliatory approach. 🙂
All the best,
LikeLiked by 1 person
There is no me or you, no seeker, no enlightenment, no disciple and no guru. There is no better or worse, no path and nothing that has to be achieved. All appearance is source. All that apparently manifests – the world, the life story, the hypnotic dream of separation, the search for home, is the one appearing as two, the nothing appearing as everything, the absolute appearing as the particular.
There is no separate intelligence weaving a destiny, and no choice functioning at any level. Nothing is happening but this,as it is, invites the apparent seeker to rediscover that which already is…..the abiding uncaused, unchanging impersonal silence from which unconditional love overflows, and celebrates, it is the wonderful mystery.
Tony Parsons, ‘The open secret’
Too often we read NDE stories, the New Testament, or countless spiritualists that proclaim the whole point of life is Love. When you are going through suffering that message is hard to swallow. Based on what we observe in this Earthly world, I think we may not fully grasp what Love is. It’s easy to get caught up in the touchy-feely, “let’s all sing kumbaya” concept of Love. Or the metaphysical “we are all One in divine loving unity” view. I’m not here to dismiss those views. But in this life, doesn’t it seem logical that the lesson we are being taught is that of “tough love”? When a drug addict family member asks for money to get high for the millionth time, are you showing them true love by giving them what they want? Of course not. Or the co-dependent partner, do you keep enforcing their weaknesses or instead do you hold back and keep a safe distance to help them mature? This seems to be what God is doing to us. He is there but He is not. He knows and He understands, but He doesn’t grant wishes. To us it seems like He has abandoned us, that He is causing us misery. But perhaps He’s simply refusing to help us out of misery because the whole point of Earth is “you are on your own, completely and entirely, but it’s just a short time until I, your Father, can speak with you again.” Perhaps all of us on Earth are here because we are God-addicts. Maybe the Atheists have part of the puzzle right, we have to learn to live without God before we can be with Him again., Perhaps suffering is meant to force the separation so that we can ultimately be bound back together in a more complete and evolved manner.
LikeLiked by 1 person
you are answering Jenn from the standpoint of there being a sort of personal God and even if there was the Lord’s prayer says ”Thy will be done on earth……” If you look at it from the aspect of the understanding of Tony Parsons there is just this, it’s life peopleing, trees treeing, earth earthing, it isn’t personal it just is. The lion kills the baby antelope for food, life is lioning and anteloping, there is no pity and although suffering and joy is experiential there is nothing really here, if you like it is the video game of the totality with itself. Sometimes, as in the case of Tony Parsons, through grace, one can have a glimpse for a few moments of this totality and realize we, and everything else, is it, only the ‘one’ pretending to be many, to be things, to be subject and object at the same time. Peace comes from detachment, quiet acceptance that it just is. The 13 century Christian German mystic ‘Meister Eckhart’ said, and here I paraphrase, “If you carry your cross with humility and surrender, the cross carries you”. The Indian spiritual guru Sri Nisargadatta said, concentrate only on “I am” it is all there is and after a while you will see that even the ‘I am” will disappear as the stick that is used to poke the fire is eventually its self consumed by the flames. Another, to this day, very revered Indian mystic ‘Ramana Maharshi’ said there is no person, no subject or object, no perceiver or perceived.
Ramana also spoke of a kind of karma misspelled here as, Pradika karma, which could not be mitigated and had to be experienced fully. The philosophy of ‘no doer’ is cold comfort for someone suffering and really not useable until one has the experience of no-self, and maybe not even then. Didn’t Tony Parsons self terminate? or was it someone else. And while I’m at it assertions that we are creative being with the power to create our reality, such as Seth proposed and may new age proponents advise as in the movie The Secret, or Abraham Hicks, this is obviously not true in the way presented and can be cruel to people in difficult circumstances who would then blame themselves for its, the various processes recommended, not working. This isn’t as black and white as some make it out to be. We do have some ability regards changing our attitude.
If there is no person there can be no Karma. Tony Parsons realized that there not only was there no Tony but that there never had been. It is logical that if one believes in reincarnation there can be no karma involved because it isn’t the ‘person’ that is reincarnating, the Jiva or soul is inhabiting another body, the soul, if perfect, untainted by the world can’t sin, can’t have karma only the finite person can sin and he exists no more. “Let the dead bury the dead”. Mourning for a loved one is normal unless it is obsessive, then it becomes,”all about me”
I liked your term, ‘God-addicts’, and although it presupposes the concept of a personal God, which I don’t necessarily believe in (as in, a God who is human-like and rewards or punishes on a personal level), it’s not far off from how some spiritual sources have described our overall spiritual journey. We are separated from the whole in order to define and expand reality. We are imperfect, and win our way back to the whole through refinement and over stages but without losing our individuality. It’s an interesting concept that I don’t completely grasp, but I also don’t expect to grasp it while in the body. My question would be, why suffering to such a degree? Couldn’t we learn the same lessons with less suffering? Less pain? I know it’s an unanswerable question. I just wish God/Universe/Source/Guides weren’t so silent all of the time. I could bear anything if I had some certainty that it wasn’t all for naught, like the materialists believe. Ann just yesterday fell and broke her femur/hip joint while trying transfer herself from wheelchair to bed. On top of everything else, why? Why pile on this particular pain and misery to a woman already fighting for her life? That’s my anger – it doesn’t just feel like separation, it’s beginning to feel like straight-up punishment.
Thank you for writing Christopher. You’ve reminded me of a few books that discuss the separation aspect that I would like to consult. See if there’s anything in there that can help me make sense of this.
All the best,
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks Jenn for your heartfelt article, which I am sure was very difficult to write, and I am so sorry about your dear friend :(. I have thought much about suffering myself, having nursed for many years, and being a counsellor who attracts people of the most extreme mental anguish ( I get the people that psychologists and psychiatrists don’t want to deal with, as they are too difficult or don’t have the money), having helped many people over to the other side, and having psoriatic arthritis throughout my whole body myself, since I was 6!
I was born into a family in which I felt that I did not belong, as I was very different to them, had different values, was interested in different things, did not fit the ‘mould’, in a nutshell I am an empath/HSP and they are narcissists/sociopaths who are materialists and believe what society tells them without questioning; so I didn’t go down to well, and was immediately preened to do all the work, help with all the crises, was scapegoated and beaten up everyday, lied to, disrespected, and made to feel guilty for asking for anything, and if I did the answer was always ‘NO’! So, I started working at the age of 8 to help with family financial problems too. When I had both my feet reconstructed when I was 24, none of my family came to see me in hospital, or came to help me with my convalescence, and I had 8 centimetre wires through my toes, and the only people who came to help me were homeless drug addicts who used my home as a base. I did not judge them as I listened to their stories of suffering, and was most grateful that they had the compassion to help me shower, and to help me to get through my pain. Although my birth family gave me lots of pain, I recognise that we all have our own journeys and that they are exactly where they are meant to be, and I was born into that family to help them with many crises that they could not cope with, yet I am not responsible for them, as I can not change them, only myself, so I choose to distance myself from them and not to get involved in any dramas what so ever.
There are so many stories of suffering in my life, and in the people I meet, and I think that suffering teaches compassion, and I have met many souls that are seasoned sufferers, who think that suffering is just part of life, the needed grit to dig deep into inner resources, to help remove the illusionary veils and to get to the truth of things. Yet, how far is how far? For some seasoned sufferers become martyrs and/or masochists, thinking that their suffering has purpose when it only causes more pain to them, which limits their abilities and/or causes pain to others lives!
Many times also suffering is inflicted upon others as part of the ‘system’, the injustice of hierarchy and the interplay of power differentials, in which those ‘above’ often use what little perceived power they have to abuse and use others who are ‘lower’ on the rungs, to have a power trip. WE see this often in parent/child relationships, teacher/student relationships, employer/employee relationships. Why is there such injustice in power differentials, when we can learn from everyone? I think the answer lies in religious/legal dualism and the rules, doctrines, dogmas created by those in ‘power’ to keep the majority ‘powerless’ and until we work on our own dualism, face our demons, our denied truths, the collective illusions, and denied truths, and then our famliies, then our communities, and then globally, can any reorientation occur.
Suffering is a human condition, and pain is part of life, as that is how a doctor knows if a person is dead or not, as they prick them with a pin, and if there is no reaction, no pain, they are dead. I think we often try to avoid pain at our own expense, yet the universe operates through change, and if we do not change, then extreme pain is experienced, our body/mind/emotions/spirits way of trying to get us to change. And, those like your friend in which changes are not natural, because of an emergency operation in which her brain function is altered, or the many people addicted to drugs, both prescription and not, who lose their personalities and higher functions, well, that is suffering too, possibly even greater suffering, as they can not articulate their thoughts properly. And those with dementia, caused through hereditary, poor diet or karmic retribution?
There are so many experiences that each and every one of us has experienced through leaving source, and I think often the ‘drama game’ is played out to balance karma, and we decide what we need to learn, through our own reflections, actions and decisions, and we need to experience the repercussions of those actions and decisions too, whether positive or negative, in order to learn to be wise and responsible, so that we can go on into higher realms and more collective love experiences to do more good work, work which benefits the whole.
I think the key to suffering is learning how to deal with it the best way we can, no matter what the changes, the debilitations, the limitations, and to take control of it the best way we can without pulling others down with us. So many use their suffering as a crutch to get sympathy and help from others, and deny their own abilities to help themselves, and these individuals are usually the ‘ones’ with the lease amount of real pain, although they exaggerate it, and in their minds they are really suffering.
Research shows that the brain stores pain in different parts of the brain and these areas often grow over time, so even when things have healed, the brain still holds onto the pain and exaggerates it, so the person feels pain chronically, with episodes of acute upon chronic. My experience and scientific research demonstrates that we can visualise those areas of the brain shrinking and we can redirect that pain into constructive areas. For instance, when I broke my foot, and was waiting to be seen by doctors in an emergency room instead of thinking about my pain, I wheeled myself around in a wheelchair and talked to patients, got them food and water and helped alleviate their anxiety. That made me happy because I was helping them, and although I was in great pain, it did not direct me, as I was in charge of it! Every living thing experiences suffering to a certain degree, it is the reality of experience in corporeal form.
LikeLiked by 1 person
What struggle you were born into, and how incredible that you have chosen compassion and understanding over bitterness and victimhood! That is incredibly rare. Most people never make it to the stage where they forgive their parents, and yet, you see that your parents and your family who treated you so terribly are on their own path. They had lessons to teach you, though they were painful and harsh. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful gifts we can give not only to those who have hurt us, but to ourselves, so that the anger we feel toward others doesn’t turn us into angry, hateful people. You are right – pain is part of the corporeal experience. It’s just hard to see others suffering pain which seems extreme or needless, and yet, it happens everyday, as you have seen through your profession. I will try to follow your example, and turn my own pain into compassion for others. I will remember your story about being in the hospital, waiting to see a doctor, how you helped others instead of focusing on just the pain you were feeling. When I am in pain – physical, mental, spiritual – I withdraw. And that hasn’t helped; it hasn’t made me feel better. Maybe reaching out to others will. Thank you so much for your thoughtful, insightful comment, Bridget, I will be thinking on what you’ve said.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Thank you Jenn. Yes, that is key, detaching self ( non-attachment) which does not mean not feeling, it means feeling deeply but not allowing the pain to direct us, and using the strategy of helping others gets our minds off of ourselves :). It is always compassion for self and others that gives strength, and that has always been my antedote for pain, and recognising when I need to nurse my wounds( by going deep into the pain) and when to let them go, even when they are chronic, ’cause worrying, being obsessed by them and thinking about them does nothing to alleviate the suffering and in fact only compounds the problem, as the old Huna principle states, ” Energy flows where attention goes”. I also often get most creative when I am in intense pain, and direct the pain into something constructive that makes me happy and often others too, which is an extra bonus :). Some things just never heal, like Chiron, the mythological wounded healer, and I feel very much this archetype in my life. And, some wounds only get worse and I guess it is up to each soul to recognise when it is time to let go and surrender to death/transition, when it is the only relief left. It is acceptance, a positive attitude, and an open heart that makes all the difference :). https://bridgetcameron.wordpress.com/2018/07/15/hearts-dream/ Your friend is on her own journey, and often the most profoundly spiritual people have the hardest lessons and most intense pain and struggles, that is just how it is, and is often chosen to accelerate growth, and especially towards the end of Earthly incarnations when there is extreme acceleration of challenges, pain and initiations. Less experienced souls can not cope with that pain, trauma and agony, and do not need those intense lessons, which start coming in with soul maturity, when we need to be accountable for our actions, as more instant karma is experienced and we question ‘externals’. It is how we cope with our challenges that is most important, as we can either sink or fly, and life often gives us our most pressings challenges when we are most vulnerable, yet it is a state of grace, even under pressure that allows for ‘flight!’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5ryo-PoMlU blessings, Bridget
I am reluctant to share my story, on such a public forum, but I will do so as it may help others contemplate the role of suffering. On Christmas day 2017 my 21 year son (the baby of the family) hung himself in his bedroom. I am not going to get into the details, but this was the beginning of my own “Dark Night of the Soul”. Day’s would pass when I was not sure if I had eaten anything at all, nor really did I care if I did or not. Was it day or night, not sure, did it matter? No thoughts in my head-absolute zero! Life had turned completely and utterly silent. This mental silence was in fact startling, as a mother of three adult children, I have been a champion worrier, but now nothing. I took a week off from work, but responsibilities had to be met and so I drifted in the daily routine. Feed the pet, take out the trash, work, groceries, laundry, put gas in the car…complete autopilot, things I had done hundreds of times before. My husband (not son’s dad) and co-workers would remind me to eat, keep track of the time for me and how sorry they were for my loss. Inside I was numb and in deep shocking grief. Two weeks and then three passed with the continued silence. By this time I had lost a lot of weight, still said very little and my family began to tell to me that I may need medical intervention. I heard nothing, felt nothing, till a dream slapped me back into waking reality the following morning.
The dream opens up with me frantically trying to find my son in a crystal like building that was so tall that it disappeared in the sky. I knew that he needed me and that I had to find him before it was to late. I finally found him in what looked to be a business meeting, except everything from clothing to walls to tables were the whitest white that can be imaged. I started to yell for him, but security found me and dragged me towards a long hallway that contained a single door. I began to struggle and scream, with the guards fighting to hold me. My son came running down the hall, embraced me, placed his hands on either side on my face, looked me straight in the eyes and said…”I am okay mom” and he rocked me like a was a child and he the parent. The next moment, I was shoved through the door, which was slammed in my face. Instantly I awoke in tears and for the first time in a month, felt relief and a spark of joy. To me this was no dream, but a call to awaken and grow.
From that point to this, I have been on a quest, had a real hunger and drive to seek all things spiritual. Prior to December of 2017, I would have labeled myself as an agnostic cynic and believed spiritual people were delusional and weird. Honestly, I thought it was all a load of nonsense and a way to hoodwink people out of their time and or money. Before Christmas day of 2017, I was always in a hurry, or stressed out, or worried all the time. Today, although I do have setbacks, much of my down time is now spent reading, investigating Eastern Religions, Jungian Psychology, collective unconsciousness and Pim van Lommel, near-death studies research….as my son used to say is “My Jam”. I now find value in watching clouds drift across the sky daily and dew drops on blades of grass after it rains. It’s now important to me to be kind to strangers, to create art, give it away and to leave people in a better place then when I found them. This new way to see, understand and live life would have never have happened without the type of suffering that turns everything you know upside down and you have no choice but to reboot your life. Christmas day 2017, was the Heroshima event of my life, but it was also a cataclysmic Tsunami wave of change. There is no easy way out of suffering. Bad things do happen; how you respond to them defines character and the quality of life. You can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of loss and suffering, or choose to rise from the pain. As for me, I choose to emulate your dear friend Ann…bend with the winds of change and smile like a dandelion in the afternoon sun.
LikeLiked by 2 people
What a great and touching story. Though of course from sadness and tragedy.
This would be well worth sharing on the After death communication site
A tragic but ultimately wonderful story of the courage to rise from anguish. Thank you for sharing it.
We can capitulate and be like stones in the pond, mere reflectors of waves coming in, going out. The peaks and the troughs, the good and the bad coming in to our lives, our hearts and minds, being reflected back out, unaltered. The uncaring universe continuing on in a zero sum game, our selves just cogs in this purposeless machination.
OR we can choose to be and do something nothing short of miraculous. We can choose to become “wave transformers”: turning troughs into peaks, peaks into higher peaks. Grief and anguish into art and kindness, injustice into compassion. The rules, the “physics”, of reality are rewritten by moral courage into something the universe did not expect. It is no longer zero sum. Who then can say what height we cannot reach.
The above was meant as a response to Kate.
I sympathize with those who have lost much in this life. How can we completely understand the “whys” of these very difficult events?
I have often thought about this in my own quest to understand the larger spiritual realities of life. How is it possible to fathom the workings of the “Great Spirit?” How to understand the inner workings of our own souls? We, who are like little water droplets in a great ocean, seem blind to the greater awareness of the invisible life that is all around us. How can the ant fathom the motives of humans who seem to rise so tall? Understanding who and what a human being is would seem unattainable to the consciousness of mere ants.
We have been told that “God is Love” and that the very foundation of the universe is based on the principle of this very Love. The countless NDE stories I have read and the many accounts of Direct Voice and Materialization experiences have, in my mind, convinced me on an intellectual level that this must be true. Yet on this rather dark and ignorant sphere we call earth, the difficult experiences challenge our thinking.
I, like Kate though on a must lesser scale of suffering, can only say that suffering has provided an avenue for change. Without the suffering I would not have changed my thinking about many things. When there are only good times and the good life, we fail to dig deep within our own souls and seek that which is of eternal value.
Will these human bodies be ours for eternity? While it is important to care for our bodies, we can, at a deep level “know” that this human experience is fleeting. 20 years,40 years, 60 years, 80 years even….all of it flashes quickly into oblivion. How important can the material life really be when we know everything is temporary at best. What is it that we take with us after we leave this physical plane of existence? What will really matter when it is all said and done?
In my view, the more clearer we understand on a spiritual level…the higher perspective…the easier it may be to bear the burden.
Jenn you are looking at things from the perspective that there is a ‘ME’ in a body. ME is something that has been taught, the illusory mind grasps it and wants to go on for ever and ever. Even from a scientific point of view there is no matter, only energy that vibrates, no reality only potential states until the wave function collapses and a state is manifested. We are in a dual story from which there is no escape, the ‘mind cannot grasp non-duality, cannot grasp everything is nothing and nothing is everything, Bill and Mary have been taught that they are real, that they have a story, that they have beliefs and that it is real. There is no plan, no destiny, life is gloriously meaningless. There is life, there is being, but it is being for nobody, it just is, the wall is just life walling, the door is just life dooring, there is love, joy and sadness but it isn’t for anyone, there isn’t anybody that can have this. Nobody can understand it, duality can’t understand wholeness and meditating in a cave for years won’t bring realization, should it happen then the intuition of me collapses and there is realization for no one.
Dear Jenn, I wish that I had some words of wisdom for you. I may reach out to you later, when I’ve had a chance to process your account of Ann’s suffering. For now, I just want to say that I’m truly sorry that Ann has suffered so much and that her suffering has caused you so much suffering.
Why would a benevolent God permit brain injuries to cause changes in personality and moral discernment? I do not know, but one change that I noticed in myself after reading about these accounts may provide a partial answer: I am more humble and less judgmental. Knowing that personal characteristics that have traditionally been thought of as residing within the soul can be dramatically altered by material influences has made me better able to adhere to Jesus’s difficult commandment to “love your enemies.” I have been gifted with intelligence and a measure of empathy, but what I have come to believe is that this does not come out of any personal merit and can taken from me at any time. Are my achievements due to having a more “advanced soul” or due to factors beyond my control? Can I claim to be more spiritually enlightened than a common criminal when we each have been given different opportunities, a different brain, and have been tested in different ways? God is commonly described in NDE’s as a non-judgmental being—how can the Creator be judgmental of persons when he knows exactly what led them to the choices they made? If we believe NDE accounts, whether we realize it or not all of us are learning whether wise or foolish, good or evil. This brings to mind Jesus’s words while being crucified (Luke 23:34) “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” The only being qualified to judge another is God and, if NDE accounts are correct, God usually chooses not to judge. Is the humility imparted to some by the knowledge of the changes to the mind that can be caused by brain damage (or drugs or traumatic experiences) one reason God allows such suffering? Perhaps God wants us to have compassion and “love your enemies” more than he wants us to have faith in an immortal soul or even faith in him? (A thought-provoking documentary that touches on questions of nature versus nurture and free-will is “Three Identical Strangers”.)
You are assuming an Abrahamic God, the wheeler and dealer, the decider, an intimate God, highly unlikely. Let us assume that Jesus was a real person, written about 300 years after his death, then it is logical to assume that he was a gifted non-dual teacher who was poorly understood during his life and even less understood in the present day. The buddhist point of view and those of Advaita would be that there is only consciousness, impersonal, unchanging,uncaused. I assume that the ‘big bang’ was a result of the power of consciousness, after that you are on your own although since the source is the same there is total connection to all and everything ‘material’ (even though there is no material, just energy, so everything is the same energy). Jesus himself said ‘Heaven is not here or there,it is within you” so no big daddy looking after you after all.
I get what you are saying. At times in my life I have considered myself a deist. My comments were merely offering some ideas about why the Creator, whether personal or impersonal, would make the world the way it is. It is also possible that there is no Creator God, but I am not ready to make that leap.
Blessings to you,
Here an extract from Tony Parsons ‘Open Secret’ it is a message that he says the mind will reject. He experienced the ‘death of ‘me’ while walking through a park in London.
There is no me or you, no seeker, no enlightenment, no disciple and no guru. There is no better or worse, no path, and nothing that has to be achieved. All appearance is source. All that apparently manifests—the world, the life story, the hypnotic dream of separation, the search for home, is the one appearing as two, the nothing appearing as everything, the absolute appearing as the particular.
There is no separate intelligence weaving a destiny, and no choice functioning at any level. Nothing is happening, but this, as it is, invites the apparent seeker to rediscover that which already is . . the abiding uncaused, unchanging, impersonal silence from which unconditional love overflows and celebrates. It is the wonderful mystery.. . Tony Parsons
Thanks for the quotation. It prompted me to read a bit about Parsons’ philosophy including an interview he gave. I may read his book at some point. So far, I can’t say I believe his ideas any more than others but I can’t say they are wrong either. There are a lot of theories about spiritual matters and unfortunately evidence is sparse (which is what brought me to this web site). I have a copy of David Bohm’s “Wholeness and the Implicate Order” that I intend to read but keep getting distracted by life. I was led to Bohm’s ideas while studying quantum mechanics in college. I think his ideas provide a means of reconciling the EPR paradox, but they require us to acknowledge that our human perception of time and cause-and-effect is in some sense an illusion. At least this is my current understanding — I will be better informed once I read his own words instead of secondary sources.
This is getting old.
I know this guy on Quora is an atheist, ( I’m not saying that because I don’t like what he’s saying. He said so himself numerous times. Quora is often full of atheist materialists ) but I’m tired of hearing or reading things like this:
The OP has made two giant assumptions: that a god and afterlife exist. But there is not one single shred of objective evidence that backs up the existence of either. It’s just a lot of bronze age ignorant superstition, and not ever well thought out superstition.
Now, think about this. From what I’ve heard of a heaven, it’s a place where only good people (or more aptly put, gullible people) go after the die. Everyone there is eternally happy and everything is absolutely perfect, forever and ever. Really?! Doesn’t this sound like extremely obvious wishful thinking? That’s because it is.
No, I never wonder about such things because I accept what the evidence tells me (on all important matters). Nobody can have a glimpse of something that does not exist and there is no joy of eternal life to be had. In fact, if one actually thinks it through, any eternal existence would evolve into a hell (which is another place that does not exist).
Lastly, I find the implication of this question extremely condescending and arrogant. It implies that atheists reject eternal life because they haven’t glimpsed it and that they are missing something. In reality, atheists reject the concept of a god because there is no compelling evidence at all to believe that there are any. And for most atheists, no god equals no eternal life, which again is not backed up by any hard evidence whatsoever.”
Has he not even heard of OBEs/NDEs, remote viewing, ATHEISTS having NDEs, ect? Maybe he has, and he’s probably convinced that it’s all wishful thinking, wanting, delusions, mental/psychiatric illnesses, hallucinations, ect.
And someone else online dismissed NDEs because “there were paintings/targets on the walls and ceilings that were purposely unmissable. The targets have not been seen by NDErs. That’s proof that we are our bodies and there’s no afterlife.”
Materialists keep saying that they’re doing society a favor by debunking “harmful” beliefs in NDEs/OBEs, afterlife, ect.
Belief in these “harmful superstitions” helps people recover faster from depression, deter suicide, cope with job loss, financial worries, less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and reduce or completely lose the fear of death.
I think this article in the link is ridiculous.
NDErs lose the fear of death and appreciate life more. Is that not healthy? Unless he considers having no fear of death, appreciating life more, ect unhealthy.
Some people, if not many get depressed over the idea of materialism being true, to the point of not being able to work, or even get out of bed. ( I was very miserable when I thought materialism was s hard fact and the spiritual was non existent, but that’s not the reason why I started questioning materialism )
Even a Reddit user was going through that.
These articles seem very desperate for materialistic explanations for OBEs and NDEs. They’re using the same arguments over and over.
I know materialists are desperately clinging to all of them:
https://www.huffpost.com › entryWeb resultsThis Is What Happens In The Brain During An Out-Of-Body
https://www.cracked.com › article_23124…Web results5 Famous ‘Paranormal’ Phenomena (Easily Debunked By Science …
And when all else fails, some ‘skeptics’ throw the TMT,( Terror Management Theory) and say that people only believe in spiritual experiences and look beyond materialism, in order to cope with mortality.
The thing that frustrates me most is the lack of any open-mindedness, and religious bias. Skeptics often assume that we believe in the biblical idea of an afterlife.. Angels on clouds with harps and all that. The afterlife, if it exists, is a an extension of consciousness. No one can prove or disprove the origin of consciousness, it’s an open question. I’m not against scientist research, we should work together to find the truth, not ridicule and bash each other. I’m open to the skeptical or atheist position. I wish the reverse was true. Thanks for your comment. Sorry it got stuck in the moderation queue! Jenn
Just thought I’d share another desperate attempt to debunk the experiences I got somewhere online.
Wish I remember where I got it from, but it went something along the lines of “If OBEs/NDEs are not hallucinations or subconscious memories/images, why do the experiencers only see in first person or birds-eye view? Why not from a point beside them?”
Someone even posted me all these links that “prove that the afterlife and mystical experiences are all fantasies and delusions”. Nothing new:
https://hinessight.blogs.com › 2018/09″Atheist Experience” guys demolish arguments of a supernatural believer …
https://hinessight.blogs.com › 2012/10Have faith in reality, not religion – Church of the Churchless – HinesSight – TypePad
https://hinessight.blogs.com › 2008/05Web resultsProof of life after death? Not yet. – Church of the Churchless – HinesSight – TypePad
https://hinessight.blogs.com › 2018/09WebresultatenReality requires a broad scientific look, not narrow mystic visions …
I’m not against science either, but atheist Brian Hines seems to think people like us are.
He says nothing new and uses the same argument over and over. I’ve been visiting his blog for years since 2006, but I shall vow to stop doing that now, since he and most of his commenters seem convinced that there’s no realm beyond the physical, we are our physical brains, and that all mystical experiences are natural experiences, neurons firing, illnesses, and hallucinations, not souls. And those who say that there might be more to reality than the physical,( Bernardo Kastrup, Sheldrake, Thomas Campbell, Steve Taylor, Eben Alexander, Charles tart ) are science deniers, avoiding reality, and burying their heads in the sand.
Yes, I understand that he didn’t have good experiences with the RSSB thing, spirituality, ayahuasca, shamanism, ect, and that he’s promoting critical thinking, due to some people being credulous and believing in harmful superstitions.
But that does not justify dismissing psychic phenomena, scientists, rational people, and paranormal researchers that question materialism and every single mystical experience, and evidence against against it as delusions, fear-based, and illusions.
Moving beyond materialism is not “reality or science denying, pseudoscience, arrogant, faith-based, anti-science or naive”. It would be if NO evidence for an immaterial reality existed. But that’s not the case.
We’re not researching NDEs and paranormal and the like out of “blind faith” or “fear of non existence”.
And just because something gives you comfort, lets you sleep at night, and helps you deal with life’s hardships, doesn’t mean it’s false.
Also, adding things and “pseudoscientists”, such as Bernardo Kastrup, Rupert Sheldrake, ect, that challenge the “rational, critical thinking, and scientific” materialistic worldview to the “Debunkatron”, or the Gallery of Wackos ( same creator of Debunkatron, Torsten Pihl ) is not going to make materialism reality.
ebunkatron.comWeb result with site linksDebunkatron
When all else fails, call anyone, including scientists, who question materialism due to evidence “gullible, easily fooled, and claiming to be open-minded, when they’re really closed-minded.”
Torsten pihl does that here:
No doubt I’ll probably get jumped on and be called an “arrogant, gullible, reality denying, uneducated believer” for saying this, ( I’ve been attacked over and over by materialists. I’m used to it now ) but I think the definition of the words reality, rationalism, critical thinking, truth, and skepticism has been hijacked.
I just recently discovered your blog and I have found it quite inspiring. Thanks for sharing this with the world.
I am so sorry to hear about your “Dark Night of the Soul” and I sadly do not have an answer for the purpose behind suffering. You do, however, raise a phenomenal question that I certainly intend to ponder: ” Maybe the question is really, “what beliefs do we have that create such suffering?”
In terms of suffering in my own life, I have been relatively fortunate and only to date (I am 32) experienced one terrible loss. My mom passed away unexpectedly 7 years ago. I miss her dearly every day as we were very close, but I have become convinced that her death happened for some reason that my limited human mind cannot comprehend, but that her death has (in many ways) changed me for the better. Her death forced me to grow up (I had always been somewhat sheltered and naive and I had to face that when she passed); it also caused me to revisit my priorities in life. Up til then I had been almost exclusively focused on my career aspirations to the point that I wasn’t really living my life, but rather had put it on hold until I finished graduate school. Her death was a radical (cruel and jarring, but necessary) awakening and jolt out of my stupor, if you will. Her death also was the impetus for my ongoing spiritual exploration which has taken my life many interesting turns in the relatively short time she’s been gone. Do I wish I could have learned these life lessons without my mom dying? Yes…I want her back and I miss her everyday, but in some profound sense I do feel that her sudden death and the immense suffering it caused for myself and my family has served some sort of deeper purpose.
Finally, my rambly life story aside, you may be interested in learning more about Mirabai Starr, a NM-based professor of comparative religion and mystic who rather synchronistically (a very dark and depressing synchronicity) received a copy of the book she’d published – her translation of St. John of the Cross’ “Dark Night of the Soul” – the same day her teenaged daughter was killed in a car accident. I honestly do not know what to make of that…Is it some sort of cruel joke from the universe? Somehow I doubt it…However, I still do not know what to make of it. Here’s her website: https://www.mirabaistarr.com/more-about-me
Sending you love and comfort from MN. This too shall pass, and I hope at some point (when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel) you will have some clarity on the purpose behind this particular iteration of suffering in your life.
Let us be honest, grief is all about ‘ME’, my loss, my sorrow. What has happened, a body mind complex has ended, the wave of ‘me’ has collapsed back into the ocean of consciousness from whence it came, it has neither increased nor diminished in size, it is as it is, it’s what it does.
Crossroads, beautiful crossroads; who doesn’t seek a crossroad where life is revitalized once again? Potentials. This is the Dark Night you spoke of. Ah, a shadow of the perpetual night befire the creation.
What matters if ‘personality’ changes if the brain changes? Just a different vase, may be itched with different images on; but the same water and subtle stream. Same water.
I hope I didn’t come off rude, that was not my intention. I am at such a crossroad at this moment, and it’s a gift, even though I am not over grieving.
I feel you, when you question the reality of the Good or the meaning your dear friend suffering, I hear you. At the back of my mind, another question forces itself on the initial one:. What contact that poor soul had agreed upon, and I did agree upon, at the other side for this experience to happen?
And here I landed on your beautiful site, imagining and contemplating as I read your words, and the vast multiform sources you have indulged on. Thank you Jenn.
Regarding the personality question and the brain, I don’t exclude a biology fatality, that is, our behavior, as incarnates on this plane, is but a program, and the soul is there for the ride.
Be it so, or free will, is to me it is as, both gods are true, the One goes by creato ex nihilo, and the One that evolves things without a begining to our universe nor end to it.
Hopefully, I would be able to share my experience on this, with the theme of communications with Atlantis.
I am very humbled and grateful to the good
light and vibe you are putting out there for all of us and yourself , and it is with grace I do say I am one of your students, and I have been coming back and rereading your words as I am trying to understand the alchemy of the crossroad I am at.
Love and peace to you and your good friend.
You lost me right there with Atlantis.