Updated: Feb 27, 2019
After thinking about suffering as a concept, we dove this week into making room for our suffering as a bodily experience. We first reviewed the types of suffering described in the Buddhist Hell Realms:
the hot and cold anger of the Hell Realm
the habitual reactions of the Animal Realm
the thirsting and dissatisfaction of the Hungry Ghost Realm
the rejection of truth in the Human Realm
the jealousy and war-making of the Asura Realm
the selfish fragility of the Heavenly Realm
The Sangha used a guided meditation to invite our own suffering forward, sensing it within the body and noticing which realm it arose from. Then, forming ourselves into pairs, we repeatedly inquired of each other, ‘How does your suffering benefit you?’ and ‘How does your suffering imprison you?’ By opening to these questions again and again, we found our way beneath automatic, self-protected responses and discovered something deeper about why we repeat old behavior patterns even when we know that they harm us.
Next week we’ll explore how suffering arises and begin turning our attention to the path that leads to liberation. In preparation, you may want to begin reading pages 49-118 of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching. There’s no rush. Please read slowly, a sentence or paragraph or page at a time, sipping the words like a cup of warm tea. Swallow the words into your body and feel their warmth before you take another sip. We have the luxury of a whole month to ingest these few pages.