Something I’ve gleaned from reading Buddhist texts is that the way to move past suffering is to study it. Don’t avoid it. Go to the source of it and really dig down. Ask yourself “Why do I feel this way? Where does this feeling come from?” Find the source and root it out. This is opposite of how the Western world thinks. We are more into the idea of not talking about it and it will go away. Sometimes we think we’ll be better off if we deal with it another day – and we think that every day. In that way you never make time to work on the problem so it just keeps getting bigger.
The idea of reincarnation that is offered to us in Hinduism tells us that if you don’t fix it you will live it again. Every new lifetime is the sum of all the past lifetimes. If you live selfishly you will not have a very good rebirth. Another way of thinking that they offer us is an aspect of the Divine called Ganesh. He has the head of an elephant. He is known as the remover of obstacles. He doesn’t walk around the problem – he goes right through it. By going right through it, he makes it possible to have a better future life. We are to follow his example and not avoid problems.
What if your next life is really tomorrow? What if instead of focusing on an afterlife, we use these ideas to work on the current one we have? Heaven isn’t a proven thing, but this life is – so it seems useful to try to make the best of it here. We are told that those who don’t study history are condemned to repeat it. Why not study your own history to see if there are any trends that keep popping up that aren’t helpful?
This is totally not the Western way. It also seems counterintuitive to study our pain. It seems like human nature to turn away from pain and seek pleasure. But what if the turning away ends up creating even more pain in the future?
Jesus said to love your enemies. What if that also meant to love what is dark about yourself? Look at what you turn away from. Study it. Go into this with the knowledge that you are loved and forgiven – you are not alone. Whatever you find there in those dark spots may be scary at first, but if you stay with that feeling and really study what you find there you’ll find it isn’t as bad as you thought. Ignorance isn’t bliss.