Imagine the collective suffering that is taking place at this moment. Each sufferer managing their suffering in their own way. Drinking, drugging, praying, hiding, crying and on and on. I could never tell my whole story even if I knew it. Pain blocks out joy and then joy blocks out the pain. And I begin again.
I am never going to be the person I most desire nor the person I least respect. I am a middling kind of guy who loved Martin Luther King JR. and vowed to be like him. But in the end I was just a regular guy who has trouble changing a bicycle tire much less the world.
But when I think about the collective suffering I am reminded that most of us are just trying to get through the trials and tribulations of life. And in my small world I have so many examples of people who managed their tremendous difficulties with great dignity. My suffering is nothing more than the anxiety of thinking that when I feel bad I will always feel bad. It isn’t true. I have to stop making up stories with endings that never happen, sometimes love stories, others, stories of calamity. Doesn’t matter which, cause neither outcome could be permanent except the one where I eventually die.
Sometimes the antidote to my suffering is to empathize with the global conflicts, famine, oppression etc. If I allow the recognition of the global/universal suffering taking place it helps me to understand that empathy diminishes my focus on my pain and allows me to make room for all pain, its devastation and the physical, emotional and psychological effects. Sometimes from this suffering comes redemption but most of the time, it just results in pain.
I recite this Buddhist blessing for all beings as the war in Ukraine rages.
May all distresses be averted.
may every disease be destroyed.
May there be no dangers for you.
May you be happy & live long.
For one of respectful nature who
constantly honors the worthy,
Four qualities increase:
long life, beauty, happiness, strength.
May you be: freed from all disease, safe from all torment,
beyond all animosity, & unbound.