Self-Inflicted Suffering

Beloved students, once again I greet you with joy and celebration for the path that each of you is following as you seek to become whole. May you have every blessing imaginable as you continue your spiritual work, both on your own behalf and that of the planet.

…In the West, often the word “suffering” is applied only to what other cultures might term “extreme suffering.” Overlooking the smaller areas of suffering in this way has thus become a Western coping strategy… The simple answer is that people suffer because they want circumstances, situations, conditions and/or relationships to be other than they are. Further, most people not only want certain things to be other than they are, they are also often strongly attached to the way they believe things should be. Here we get a peek into the old craving/aversion spectrum that sits right in the heart of all suffering.


For some people, attaining neutrality is a radical notion. The mind takes off on its own course and demands: “Well what about all the injustice in the world? I can’t be neutral about that, of I’d be condoning it!” In truth, anyone who thinks that he or she can change the way the world appears in the conventional reality is wrestling with a delusion. The only thing that one can actually change is the way he or she sees the world and the conventional reality. Simply stated, you change the world in your own sphere. You learn to “brighten the corner where you are,” as the children’s song goes. The ego mind loves to extend itself way out into the broadest perspective it can muster, focusing on world conditions that are beyond its own reach. In so doing, it foten neglects the people who are right before it, with their needs and suffering going completely unheeded. Or perhaps the ego gets a little bored with those who are closest, and puts forth the vibes – if not the words – “When is she going to get over this? Will she never get a life?”

While one should, of course, hold compassion for the suffering so rampant in the world at large, the real work to be done must occur in the sphere of one’s own influence. If one has the power to benefit countless beings by making a single decision or taking some action, then by all means, he or she should make that decision or take that action. However, some folks have a tendency to lose themselves in obsessing on world conditions over which they, personally, have no power or influence. This is little more than a strategy for avoiding taking action on the goodness that needs to be expressed for those in one’s immediate sphere of experience. It is always fascinating to probe the ingenious way the mind sorts and holds such matters.

In truth, it does not matter where on this fine planet you experience suffering, or in what circumstances. If you are human, you will feel the pangs of suffering. The suffering is your call to plunge beneath the surface of that emotional density and investigate thoroughly the workings of the mind. If you return to the earlier example of taking insult from someone else’s words, upon investigation, you will discover that the suffering was in your mind. While you may have had a problem with the interaction, the other may not have. While the words may have come from the other person, the problem did not. Since the problem cannot come from the event, since all events are actually neutral until interpreted, the only source left for the arising sense of problem-ness is your own mind.

Your task, then, is to take note of how your mind holds the event and the other person, as well as the sense of problem-ness that has arisen in your awareness. As you scrutinize these parts of the experience, you can begin to unravel some of the tangled thoughts and feelings your mind has woven into the knotty web that binds you. Your emotions, which arise in response to your thoughts, give you instant feedback on your thoughts and projections, because they carry the charge that is the clue that you have not reached the level of the great neutrality.


Negotiating the path to neutrality requires more than just analyzing the areas you hold as problems. You are seeking a full disclosure from that ego mind of yours as to how it manages to manipulate you so predictably in the areas it labels as problems. One of the ego’s most powerful ploys is the use of comparing mind. Often, the mind holds that is would be better for you (it) if things were a different way than they are (or appear to be).


In the final analysis, if you want to stop suffering, you have to see what your mind is holding in any given moment that causes you to suffer. In painful or highly charged moments, you simply ask yourself: “How can I hold this differently?” Then, you make a conscious decision to interrupt the mind’s patterned reactions, and you bring forth the integrity to hold yourself to doing so. In a situation, such as the one given above (receiving the insult), you might say to yourself in the moment: “Okay; I’m feeling a charge with those words; I’m feeling insulted, but I’m going to hold this experience as if the other person is just having a bad day.” In making the choice to hold the experience differently, you may even feel some internal point of tension relax. The decision not to believe every thought your mind thinks can be remarkably freeing.

This is a beginning point in “taming” the mind. In truth, nothing can arise within that you cannot tame. Whether or not you know it, you are up to the task of taming that ego mind, and you will, in fact, ultimately succeed at taming it. This taming happens when you come to outsmart it, and to do that, you must first understand how the mind works. You discover how it holds a given experience, and what meaning it places on believing that someone insulted you. By objectively investigating the mind and the ploys it uses, you discover that you can indeed enter the great neutrality. Further, you deactivate developing mind- at least until you are sure you understand what actually happened- which may be different from what the mind interprets as having happened. Ultimately, you discover that taming the mind is the way to stop suffering.

The irony of all this is that, in the end, you actually feel grateful for all those painful moments. Used well, they lead you to clarity. Thus, you thank the mind, for indeed, it is a kind of teacher for you. Reclaim your rightful creative power and just refuse to let it get by with jerking your chain so much. Learn to gently love the ego mind into wholeness. Although it will balk at the suggestion, the ego mind needs to be tamed. Once tamed, it expands from consciousness into consciousness, which is the source of your compassion, your wisdom, your healing and ultimately, your liberation.

Know that you are greatly loved and fully supported in this marvelous journey. I celebrate, as well as cherish, your desire to go free, your desire to bring yourself and the rest of the world a little less suffering.

Djwhal Khul through Kathlyn Kingdon

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