The root of suffering

The root of all suffering lies in a simple confusion. We believe we are an individual, separate from the rest of the universe. We mistake a transitory phenomenon with the eternity in which it manifests, and we believe that this transitory phenomenon is what we are. As if a wave were to say, “I am the ocean.”

We are dedicated to trying to preserve this apparent and temporary “I”. We try to protect it from all other apparent and transient phenomena, which strike us as hostile and aggressive, determined to make us disappear. When in reality the disappearance of that apparent “I” is inevitable, as the wave will inevitably subside into the ocean.

Meanwhile, at the same time we realize how stupidly ridiculous this situation is and try to make sense of it and explain what is happening to us. We invent a God, because someone must have created this mess, but this god fails to make sense of anything, and rather complicates the situation.

So we invent science and make it look for answers. Unfortunately, the scientific search for answers only creates more questions, and only complicates the situation more.

So we invent philosophy, and believe that thinking very hard and persistently will give us the answer we seek, yet we only manage to go around in circles.

Tired and frustrated, we begin to hear a faint voice within us telling us that things are not as they seem, that there is something more than what we think we are. So we set out to add to that apparent “I”, composed of body and mind, a third component that we call “Spirit” and that perfectly complements our separate individual.

Since we don’t know how to communicate with our spirit, we try to do it through the body and the mind. We get into diets and yoga exercises. We read many spiritual books, we go to meetings, we argue, we travel to exotic places, and the only thing we get is to feel superior to others who are not “spiritual”. All we have accomplished so far is to increase our suffering and feeling of separation to unbearable levels.

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s time to realize that all this comes from a simple confusion, that we are not what we think we are. It is time to ask yourself, Who am I really?

Luis de Santiago