It can be useful to think of the soul as our vessel. We are encased by a framework of personal ideologies that define who our ego is being in this lifetime. Death is the dissolution of that vessel and our dispersal back into all of the potential that exists in the universe. It is the end of all experience.
Pain and suffering expand our vessel by making more room for tolerance and wisdom respectively. Pain is inevitable, but provides us with equal measures of resilience. Our suffering is optional, but by doing it we gain wisdom about the value of meditation over rumination.
It is through that meditative process that we can achieve the conversion process. It is there that we take our pain and suffering and make it comprehensible in our lives. This is what it is to learn and grow.
These are expansions of our capabilities, and yet our egos tend to focus on only the pain caused by that growth. That pain is as real as any thing can be. But it does not exist on some single plane of reality.
That pain emerges from us, literally stretching who we are in multiple dimensions. It is ultimately if not immediately, a positive sign. As we feel pain, or anger, or sadness, we stretch out our identity.
What these experiences ultimately serve to do is to leave us with even more space within ourselves. This allows our future to make use of that extra space to make room for even grander feelings of every type.
If we want to grow in wisdom, and in our depth of experience, that can only come from having greater capacity within us. This is the paradoxical reason that we should welcome the feelings that stretch the vessel formed by the limiting ideas believed by our ego.
As the old saying goes, ‘the cracks are where the light gets in.’ The pain hurts, so hopefully loved ones can be there with us, through that. But if we keep in mind that we are also in the process of expanding our capacity for joy, gratitude and connection, then that can make a painful experience more tolerable.
The price for this growth can be high if that’s where we place our focus. But it can also feel relatively low when we consider what we will gain.
The question always is, which way will we choose to see our experiences today? As meaningless suffering? Or as the normal price for a profound life?
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own over-thinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.