Monday, February 13, 2012

I Suffer Because?

I received this and hoped that you would enjoy it as much as I did.

I suffer because?

It seems a good question to ask, I suppose, because one has to start the inquiry somewhere. Asking brings attention to the process of suffering. It helps identify the operating system. Catching on to mentation, to karmic conditioning and self-hate, brings awareness to the existence of the process of suffering – the unholy feeling of cosmic separation: a point of view, an interpretative film through
which life is framed, primarily as the absence off, something wrong, not enough. I can identify the system now, I can redirect the attention to the experience I want to have, not always but sometimes.

Now I am curious about what it feels like to live in Technicolor instead of monochrome – to be the picture instead of the negative.

I sleep in and stretch into a day of leisure – nothing to “do.” Such a potent verb: to do. Action in my conditioned world translates into worthiness, purpose, accomplishment, validation of existence – being somebody. It is the busy people who are valued. "I" frames the ideal person as having insufficient time, an incomplete project list, a mountain of unanswered email, feeling rushed. Contemplating a morning of sitting on the couch sipping tea is a guilty pleasure to be indulged once in a while. I feel the need to apologize to my hardworking sister, mother and partner, who have been up and about since 6 a.m. doing worthy things. Feeling “healed, whole and healthy,” rested, relaxed and refreshed, without an inclination to action is to be viewed with trepidation, a sign, perhaps, that one is degenerating into a lazy-good-for-nothing. That is the reason for the Taskmaster after all, otherwise, we will give in to the siren song and be forever lost in the land of the Lotus Eaters.

The difficulty, I think, is what my teacher points to often: we have become conditioned human doings . We are no longer human beings.

Being is an unfamiliar state. Absence of doing produces an acute discomfort for the mind. What does one do if one is not doing something? The irony of the question is obvious. Only mind would ask that question. I found myself having to watch the gyrations of every conditioned process desperately trying to get me to do something.

A squirrel drops onto the fence from the skeletal branches of the tree outside my window, hopping with enthusiastic energy and bright-eyed curiosity. “Where is yours,” mind whispers. “Should you not be meditating or researching something?”

I see the pink camellia bud peep shyly from behind waxy green leaves and the clouds move lazily across the sky. (I have a very nice view out of my window.) “What have you done to earn it?” whispers mind.

Time slows. Trudy, my beloved money plant, shakes her head wisely as she contemplates the little buddha on the altar. Life grows me, she seems to say. Air rushes into her pores. Sunlight caresses her supple stems. Water wiggles up her tiny thirsty roots from rich, dark, loamy soil. Three fragile, tender, leaves unfurl from the top of her head into the cold winter morning. She does not effort herself into
existence. She does not make herself branch or bud or move toward light; she is a product of life growing. She will be, without the whipping voice urging her to grow.

Being is spacious, timeless, relaxed grace, effortless unfolding, a perfect symphony of movement and stillness.

Katagiri paraphrased: the mind is unable to grasp the pace of life, the changing flux, the discrete discontinuity of its flow. It must create structure, permanence, timeline scaffolding to gloss over the
abyss of the moments between existences. Tuning into mind is in the space of the tick tock. Dropping mind is life dancing Trudy…

Wei-Wu-Wei paraphrased:
One: Who are you and how do you know it?
Two: I am consciousness and I know it because I love.
One: The first is so but not the second.
Two: How so?
One: I love can only come from an identified object...If whole mind
answered it would say I am love....

It drops in that perhaps Life is clearing the decks so this form can exchange the cellular memory of driven mental action to tuning into an expression of her movement, her natural folding and unfolding. Absence of action allows space for the silent movement and growth of life, to tune into the rhythm beyond tick-tock. There is a time and space for sipping tea and enjoying the acrobatics of baby squirrels to the beat of the sparrow orchestra. Awareness rests in the knowing of effortless movement. This practice is one of being, not a verb, a noun.


  1. This writing awakened my heart this morning, it gave me some "ah ha!" moments. I am a human being, not a human "doing", and I AM love. Ah, much to reflect upon here. Delicious.

  2. Dear Cheri,
    Thank you for sharing this article for us. It was so beautiful to read it and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Every bit resonates with my heart. So beautiful !!

    Love and In Gratitude,

  3. Dar Cheri,

    (I will post this again, as the 1st one seems to have disappeared)

    Ten years ago or so a good friend gifted me with your “suffering is optional” and recently I finished reading “There is nothing wrong with you”. I have flirted with Zen for the past years but have stumbled upon a question. I thought I’d ask it to you:
    In what way is the ego an illusion? Everything in our daily lives says otherwise. I can eat a white truffle risotto and you won’t ever know it. A Chinese person may laugh twenty times a day and both you and I will never experience his laughter. So in what fundamental way are we not separate? Do you mean philosophically, metaphorically? Materially?
    Once I had a Kabbalah teacher tell me something along the lines of All things are the same and eternal. Is this what you and Zen are saying?

    I do thank you for your time and consideration.

    Kindest regards,


  4. Thanks for the support for doing nothing. I'm going through a period of doing nothing now. But there has still been the subtle feeling of being pushed to "do" and "accomplish" something to validate my existence. So now I will just let go into the not doing for as long as I need. That paragraph about why one might need to do nothing seemed addressed directly to me.

  5. Thanks for sharing this. What really struck a chord was: "She does not effort herself into
    existence. She does not make herself branch or bud or move toward light; she is a product of life growing. She will be, without the whipping voice urging her to grow."