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We think of pain as something that is inflicted on us as matter of ill fate or a sick world, but pain is a calling signal. It is you pressing up against a block that stands between where you are and what you want to be. It is the contrast through which we can understand and feel lightness. It is a privilege to feel discomfort, it is a gift to be gutted. There is only one purpose here, and there is only one direction: growth. Whether you avoid it or ignore it or hide from it or remain unaware of it or embrace it and see it and desire it and go to it before you’re forced, ultimately, we all move forward. We all expand.
This is what some of the greatest thinkers in existence knew, and what every person who wants to be at peace should: your suffering is not punishment. It is a tool, like anything else, to deepen your awareness and expand your consciousness. In other words: to make you more present, and more capable of feeling the joy and light and gift of that present moment. That probably sounds deliriously, annoyingly optimistic, especially when you’re in the thick of it, but remember that anger is recognition, and the inability to accept.
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
— Marcus Aurelius
“I think that we are like stars. Something happens to burst us open; but when we burst open and think we are dying; we’re actually turning into a supernova. And then when we look at ourselves again, we see that we’re suddenly more beautiful than we ever were before!”
― C. JoyBell C.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
“Sometimes we must undergo hardships, breakups, and narcissistic wounds, which shatter the flattering image that we had of ourselves, in order to discover two truths: that we are not who we thought we were; and that the loss of a cherished pleasure is not necessarily the loss of true happiness and well-being.”
― Jean-Yves Leloup
“Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.”
― John Green
“But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more.”
― Hans Christian Andersen
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
― Kahlil Gibran
“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“We do not suffer by accident.”
― Jane Austen
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
― Anaïs Nin
“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”
― Charles Dickens
“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”
― Anaïs Nin
“My destination is no longer a place, rather a new way of seeing.”
― Marcel Proust
“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.”
― Orson F. Whitney
“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
― C. JoyBell C.
“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”
― Sigmund Freud
“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”
― Andy Rooney
“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.”
― John Green
“There is an ancient tribal proverb I once heard in India. It says that before we can see properly we must first shed our tears to clear the way.”
― Libba Bray
“Pain is not the same as suffering. Left to itself, the body discharges pain spontaneously, letting go of it the moment that the underlying cause is healed. Suffering is pain that we hold on to. It comes from the mind’s mysterious instinct to believe that pain is good, or that it cannot be escaped, or that the person deserves it.”
― Deepak Chopra
“To embrace suffering culminates in greater empathy, the capacity to feel what it is like for the other to suffer, which is the ground for unsentimental compassion and love. ”
― Stephen Batchelor
“Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn’t ever worked, because it approaches the problem backward. What The Work gives us is a way to change the projector—mind—rather than the projected. It’s like when there’s a piece of lint on a projector’s lens. We think there’s a flaw on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears on next. But it’s futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself. This is the end of suffering, and the beginning of a little joy in paradise.”
― Byron Katie
“I think the function of suffering is to let me know that my perception is skewed; what I’m doing is judging natural events in such a way that I am creating suffering within myself. For instance, you have pain over certain conditions, certain situations that occur. And if you just say ‘ok, here I am, I’m going to experience the pain,’ you don’t suffer. The resistance and the degree of the resistance to the natural phenomenon of life causes tremendous suffering.”
― Hubert Selby Jr.
“Breakdowns are actually, most often, breakthroughs… you just haven’t yet seen the other side.”
“Glory follows afflictions, not as the day follows the night but as the spring follows the winter; for the winter prepares the earth for the spring, so do afflictions sanctified prepare the soul for glory.”
― Richard Sibbes
“Sometimes it takes great suffering to pierce the soul and open it up to greatness.”
― Jocelyn Murray
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