TAKE SMALL BITES OUT OF REALITY — They’re Easier to Digest

"I teach suffering and the end of suffering.".  The Buddha's motto resonates with most of us.  We understand what suffering is and clearly seek to end it.  But if suffering is part and parcel of the human experience then we might be better served in accepting its reality and learning to deal with it. 

If we can truly comes to terms with its inevitability then our attitude towards adversity will allow us to understand that it is not necessarily a result of our personal failures or mistakes.  Of course our choices can exacerbate suffering or greatly reduce it.  But disappointment, loss, grief and fear will never disappear.  Just accepting that truth will allow us to return to a baseline serenity that we deserve.

Part of our problem arises because we become overwhelmed by the enormity of suffering that occurs around us.  The 24 hour news cycle, and instantaneous awareness of much horror and tragedy around the world brings all suffering into our circle of awareness.

In past times we might only become aware of those most close to us who were in trouble.  Now the entire world's chaos becomes our own.

I don't believe it is being selfish or uncaring to release our worry about the entire universe.  It doesn't truly help anyway.  Of course we should meditate or pray for the release of suffering of all beings.  But we need to release our obsession with universal suffering. 

Even our own worries which become projected into some unknown and unknowable future need to be reduced to small  bites or quanta of concern.  There is just too much uncertainty to become distraught in the present moment over an unknown and unknowable future.

Even when real tragedy strikes us we must resist the impulse to see a horrific future.  Stress is best handled by focusing in on the "next step".  I recently diagnoses a pancreatic and biliary tumor in a patient.  Although panic is a first response I tried to have the family focus on what they can do the the next moment.  They will seek the opinion of a professor in NYC.  That focus will allow them to maintain some semblance of control.  They need to just be aware of the present moment and the next moment.  The future will unfold regardless. 

Taking small bites out of the reality we face will allow us to digest even the most distressing meal. 

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