Why Suffer?

Why is there so much human suffering? Because that’s what it takes to get our attention. We come here as souls to grow and learn, but without suffering, we tend to be really slow learners.

That’s just the way we are. We’re programmed, among other things, to seek comfort, not awareness. But when comfort is taken away from us, then we’ll work very hard to understand why, so we can get it back again. Suffering is a great motivator.

Entertainment tells us something about comfort, and learning. Entertainment takes us out of the pain part of our brain, and puts in the pleasure part. While we’re being entertained, we tend not to notice stress, and pain disappears into the background of our awareness. So, a big key to trying to teach anything, or persuade anyone, or sell anything, is to either make the presentation entertaining, or lean heavily on the value proposition about how it will help us be more comfortable.

I was made aware of all this in a pointed way recently. If you listen to my podcast, you know that a few weeks ago I included a video called World Peace Begins With You. Perhaps you saw it, but chances are 50/50 you didn’t watch the whole thing. I know that, because the youtube stats revealed that in the US, people on average watched my four and a half minute video for about 2 minutes. Canada did much better, for reasons I don’t quite understand. South Africa did great. But in the US, most people couldn’t be bothered to see the end, because they determined that there would not be kittens, dancing babies, or boob cleavage. We’re very fussy about our entertainment here in the US. So, clearly I need to step up my game.

Soon after, I put up on my Facebook page, a video of a dog sliding down an elephant’s back into the water. Tons of people watched that, and loved it. It was much more entertaining. So, the lesson for me was that if I want people to watch my videos, I need to include more dogs and elephants.

Well, yes, and no. The lesson is that humans are just going to be human, and we’re going to care about what we care about. Mostly, we care about being comfortable, being entertained, and avoiding suffering.

But some people, after taking Earth School classes for many lifetimes, eventually figure out that the best way to suffer less, is to be proactive about it, rather than avoid it. What does that mean exactly? Well, you could think of it as graduate course work in Earth School. It has to do with things that newbies generally aren’t too interested in, and aren’t ready for.

You can’t actually avoid suffering, because it’s built into the equation here. We’re all going to experience pain. But trying to avoid it works about as well as trying to avoid the dentist’s chair. The longer you put it off, the worse it gets.

A much better strategy is to increase awareness. When we find ourselves suffering, it helps to get present with it, and allow it to pass through. Facing it, making it OK, leaning into it… that kind of approach tends to make it much easier to release suffering, and get it gone. That works very, very well, but for most people, most of the time, it tends to be a hard sell. Especially while there are dogs and elephants on youtube.

I’m not suggesting that we spend all our time focusing on our pain and hardship. That’s not quite what I’m saying. It’s more about noticing what’s happening inside ourselves, being aware of discomfort, and not fighting with it, or trying to ignore it. Asking ourselves questions like, how am I feeling, and what is making me uncomfortable right now. And then working to clear the source within us, of the discomfort.

I want to tell you more about that, and I will, but right now it’s getting late, and I have to go play with my dog. He doesn’t have an elephant, but he has me, and I have a tennis ball. We’ll talk later.