There is an incredibly clear way life shows you that you’re seeing things through a thick and biased filter of thought.
It shows you through discomfort.
When you’re feeling things like resistance, self-consciousness, guilt, regret, shame, or anxiety, you’re identified with experience as if it’s “yours”; as if you’re a separate “me” to whom life is happening.
Rumi said, “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.”
Life looks dangerous when you believe you’re separate from it. The mind of a seemingly separate me is constantly scanning for danger and looking for ways to keep you physically, mentally, and emotionally okay. That mental scanning takes a lot of resources and it keeps your experience focused on survival and comfort. It leads to a lot of mental stories about what’s right and wrong, what should or should not be happening, and what everything means about you.
All of those shoulds and expectations–when believed–create some degree of discomfort.
Suffering is showing you that you’re missing the big picture, overlooking your true nature, and viewing yourself as a fragile ‘me’ in an overly complicated, black-and-white world.
Let’s look at it another way.
Everything is one, single life energy playing dress-up as variety, as separate people and separate things and separate experiences. There is not a problem with any of it. It’s exactly as it is, always.
But when you feel separate from it and it looks like it’s happening to you, and especially when it looks potentially dangerous to you, your mind starts forming preferences. It starts saying “This feeling is okay, but that one is not”.
You’re identified with experience as if thoughts are your thoughts and feelings are your feelings. You’re identified with what you want or don’t want to be experiencing. This is the epitome of life as a worm; the epitome of a “me” at the mercy of life. Everything revolves around you and your preferences.
Thankfully it hurts when “you”–life itself–is seen as separate and small and not getting what you want. The discomfort of this way-too-small identity is a wake up call. It’s there to get your attention, as if to say “Silly you, you’re not a worm with a grape leaf addiction! Wake up!”
You’re not a middle-aged man with anxiety.
You’re not a young woman with an eating disorder.
You’re not a mom with a drinking problem.
You’re not a worm, and you’re not a separate me.
You are life itself. The separation is illusory. There is no “you” to which life is happening. There is simply life providing an experience of a separate me and you. Of course, the experience of separation is not a problem either. It’s an incredible gift. We get to enjoy it much more when we see it as the dream that it is.
Discomfort is not a problem, it’s your personalized ticket out of the illusion. Your addiction, anxiety, eating disorder, depression, or chronic pain is life helping you wake up from the dream of you as a limited, fragile being.
Rumi said, “What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle.”
What is experienced as darkness is a candle illuminating the fact that you’re not seeing the big picture. You’re buying into the idea of limitation and separation, missing the truth of who you are.
Darkness is there to bless you. To wake you up to the wholeness and perfection that already is the case.