Is Struggle the Effect or Cause of Suffering?

The question of whether our struggle is a response to suffering or the cause of suffering is critical if it turns out to be the cause, since that would imply that we create our own suffering for no good reason that relates to the actual events happening outside our minds.

It can be argued that not all of our thoughts are ours. On one level we can say that our thoughts and beliefs are heavily influenced by others, and even our interpretation of events is determined by our own past experience (sometimes called conditioning) and is not a function of intelligence operating separately from that knowledge, or even separately from the thoughts of others.

struggle However, the issue has less to do with the unbidden nature of our thoughts than it does with our interest in them, and this interest can and does change with understanding and clarity; the process of self actualization. In other words, struggle (resistance) is not a thought as such, but rather the engagement with those thoughts in a determined effort to change a situation that we have deemed unacceptable.

The sense of resistance can range from mild to overwhelming, and is obviously related to suffering, but it's seldom recognized that this resistance IS the suffering. Since we struggle to change a situation, it's usually assumed that the suffering is caused by the situation, and that the resistance happens in response to the situation in an attempt to end the suffering. However, in the absence of resistance, there actually is no suffering. There is nothing beneath the resistance called suffering. There is nothing inherent in the situation that can be pointed to as something called suffering.

What we're saying is that suffering is caused in the response to the interest in changing a situation, and not in the situation itself. This is not to imply that we shouldn't try to change the situation, but the resistance which normally attends this activity is not necessary in order for that change to occur. What we call acceptance does not mean no change, it means no struggle.

The psychic resistance does not assist the change, and may very well obstruct it by clouding perception and constricting the mental focus so that solutions are not so easily noticed, or inappropriate solutions are grasped from a lack of clarity. So not only are we saying that the resistance is the cause of the suffering, and not the situation, but also that the resistance obscures the solution rather than helping to bring about effective change in the pursuit of authentic happiness.

bloody rose

If this can be seen clearly, the only thing that makes sense is to lose interest in the pointless resistance and simply do the next thing that needs to be done to resolve the issue, assuming there is still an issue to be resolved. Very often, when the struggle is dropped, and therefore the suffering, it may be seen that the situation doesn't even constitute a problem to be solved. The problem itself may very well fade away along with the suffering that somehow seemed to be caused by the situation.

The realization that there is no suffering beneath the resistance that must be dealt with is an experiential matter. You would need to find the courage to drop the resistance and respond intelligently to the situation before you can notice that there is nothing beneath the resistance waiting to cause you suffering. In any genuine acceptance, letting go, surrender, there is only the ceasing of the resistance, and it is already done. It is an undoing.

Phil Beaumont

Return From 'Struggle' to Happiness Home
Self Actualization

More Self Actualization articles:

Living Consciously 1
Living Consciously 2
Split Mind
When does Feeling Become Suffering?
Breaking Habits
Being Present
Happiness is an Idea
Imagining Problems
Serial Problem Solver
The Delusion of Burt the Bunny
Realization Vs Thinking
Imaginary Feelings
Realization is Self Evident
Seeing Through illusions
The Habit Game

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Self Actualization

"To identify oneneself as a separate entity in a universe that refuses to acknowledge and support that separateness, is suffering."
Phil Beaumont

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