4 weeks ago

The only thing in the way is you

We humans suffer. Isn’t that your experience? Don’t you suffer? Don’t you find yourself somehow tortured, seeking for a remedy, a way to find relief?

We know we suffer. We experience the anguish. We know it is real. Whether we suffer physical pain, psychological pain, emotional pain, or whatever else. We know it is real.

But I challenge you to successfully identify the actual suffering. Can you pin down the suffering itself? Can you find it?

You cannot. I know you cannot because no one ever has.

I have not. And I’ve been looking and looking and looking for decades with great intensity.

But it’s not only me who reports not being able to find the suffering. Every sage, person of wisdom, true teacher, authentic guide, or whatever you want to call them has reported the same.

They have all pointed us to look for ourselves. They say, “Look and find the problem. Look and find the boogieman.”

But most of us keep thinking that we’re going to actually find it. We settle for an assumption that the problem exists. And so we keep on suffering.

So let’s look together now. Let’s look to see what the actual nature of suffering is. Let’s see if we can find the cause, the thing that does this to us. Let’s be bold, courageous, and relentless. Let’s be serious.

Look with me now. Don’t fall for your usual traps and habits. Don’t numb yourself or lull yourself to a stupor. Look soberly now. Look fiercely now.

Ask yourself what is the core of this suffering. Look for it. Feel into it. Follow your direct sensing to the heart of the misery, the pain, the nightmare.

Don’t lie and say it’s not a nightmare. Don’t lie and say it’s not so bad. Tell the truth. Remember those sober moments in which you have seen clearly that there is no escape, no hope. Remember those moments in which you have acknowledged that it truly is worse than you’d ever let on. And stare directly into the darkness you’ve avoided with your hopes and dreams and ambitions and fantasies.

What do you find?

Can you name it?

Can you provide a reference for it?

Do you know what this is?

Do you know its intention?

Do you know anything about it?

Can you truthfully say anything about this?

Now tell the truth. You have no idea what this is. You simply assumed this was a problem. You assumed it was here to harm you. You assumed you needed to move away from it. You assumed you needed to protect yourself.

All assumptions. But now when you look clearly and tell the truth, can you see that you don’t know? Can you see that this is unknowable? Can you see that your assumptions can’t hold up in the reality of this as it is?

Now, let’s look again at the nature of suffering.

In light of this clarity, look again at what the actual experience of suffering is. And you’ll perhaps see more clearly what suffering actually is.

It is you trying not to suffer. Suffering is recursive. It begins with you trying not to suffer. Which produces suffering, validating the assumption that there is something to avoid. So you seek not to suffer. Which simply produces more suffering. And so it goes…

Until you see it and stop.

Stop now. And let it unwind.

You must have the courage to let it unwind. That is essential.

Freedom is for the courageous.

Courage is the willingness to sacrifice everything. To lay yourself bare and find out what the truth is *directly*. Not theoretically. Not second-hand. Not intellectually.

Directly.

Stop now and let it unwind.

Stop. Look. Don’t move.

There are many ways that people IMAGINE that they should go about not moving. But most of those involve more movement, more tension, more trying, more avoidance.

There is only one way to truly not move. And that is to rest and watch for the habits of movement.

Don’t get hung up on judging your movements. You can’t help it. You’re afraid. You’ll move because you’ll get spooked.

But just see it. And then stop and be still.

The more you stop, look, don’t move, the clearer it becomes.

It was only ever your habit of trying to avoid that was the suffering.

The clearer it becomes, the subtler your vision. So don’t dismay when you start to see more and more of your subtle habits of avoidance/movement/tension. Don’t dismay when you start to see just how much you get spooked. Don’t dismay when you start to see how angry, fearful, and reactive you are.

Just stop, look, don’t move.

This is so simple. But the most difficult thing.

And the most rewarding.

Joey Lott

Joey Lott is the author of numerous books, including The Best Thing That Never Happened and The Little Book of Big Healing. He lives in southern Vermont with his wife and children.

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