Do Nothing to Reinforce Suffering

11491843-renoir-paintings“Why think you it is loving to believe in suffering? Do you not begin to see that in so doing you but reinforce it? What you might even call the ‘fact’ of it? Can you not instead ask yourself what harm could be done by offering a new kind of observance? (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Personal Self, 29.8)”

Affirmation: “I would lay all belief about suffering aside today.”

Reflections:

1 – We Create Our Own Reality

This passage for today is another example of the truth that we create our own reality. When we give attention to suffering, even when we are sympathizing with those who are suffering, we are causing that suffering to grow. When we turn aside from suffering, we diminish suffering. We fail to reinforce it, and it falls away of its own weight.

2 – Solace

Can we really believe this? Let’s try it and see. This approach does not mean that we will be cruel to those who believe in suffering and who are in the midst of suffering. We would empathize and give solace to such a person. But we won’t exacerbate the phenomenon of suffering by focusing on it, because focusing on it in fact does reinforce, and therefore make it harder to overlook.

3 – Overlooking

We saw this dynamic in the example of anger and attack. When we focused on our brother’s shortcomings (as we perceived them), they grew in our minds and we could not easily overlook them. Yet this overlooking is just what we are called to do in A Course in Miracles. We make real the anger and attack, and then we really cannot overlook it. And we are trapped by our own negative emotional reaction.

4 – Real Suffering

It is similar with suffering, and real suffering (as opposed to pain) is primarily mental, emotional. We build on the pain that we see, and this makes the primacy of negative response. We do no one any good by commiserating loudly. This simply makes the suffering real in our perception and makes it harder to overlook, as we have said.

5 – A Disservice

So today do not lend your emotional upset to the upset that you see in another who is suffering. Do not be unmindful of what you are seeing, but neither exacerbate the feelings by focusing on them. To do so is to do a disservice to your brother or sister, lost in the moment in suffering.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

When I see suffering today, I will offer my sympathy to the other, but I will not focus on that suffering and therefore make it greater. I will not reinforce, but instead turn another’s focus outward and away from the emotional turmoil that he/she is generating. I will offer solace, but not make the suffering larger by focusing on it unduly.

This are lofty ideals. There is a fine line between offering solace and perpetuating the suffering by focusing on it. Help me to know and to carry out the difference. My thoughts are with You as I go about my day, seeing some who suffer. May their suffering be eased into simply pain, or even recovery, taking out the emotional as well as physical basis for complaint. May I be a comfort to those I love.

Amen.

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