Most people suffer much of the time. Ask yourself, right now: Don’t you feel some level of anxiety, anger, upset, or grief on an average day? Suffering is so common that it seems like part of being human.
And yet, there is a simple way to stop most suffering. I’m not talking about stopping events like sickness, poor health, and poverty. I’m talking about stopping the meaning we give such events and even less significant events. And because it is the meaning we give events that produces most of our suffering, by no longer giving meaning to events, you can stop your suffering.
It actually is possible to do this, and I’ll tell you how to do it. But first, let’s make real how meaning causes suffering.
She remained calm for her daughter
A woman who had learned how to dissolve meaning told me the following story: “My 11-year-old daughter was taken ill and rushed to the emergency room. After the first exam the doctor said he didn’t know what was wrong with her and he would have to give her a battery of tests.”
As you read her story, imagine how you would feel in this same situation.
“I started to panic and realized the meaning I had automatically given the situation was that she was very sick and might die. I suddenly realized that the fact that she didn’t feel good and the doctor didn’t know why had no meaning. I didn’t know anything for sure about her condition. Suddenly a calm overcame me. As a result, for the next four hours I was able to be relaxed and comforting with my daughter, which kept her from being frightened. After four hours the doctor came in and said, ‘She’s fine; you can take her home.’ Being able to dissolve meaning in that situation was a miracle. Not only was I able to experience calm instead of terror during the four hours it took for the doctor to figure out that nothing was wrong, I was able to be with my daughter in a calm way — in a way that kept her from being scared.”
That the daughter didn’t feel well and the doctor didn’t have a diagnosis at the moment was the event. That she had a serious illness or might die was the meaning the mother unconsciously and automatically added to the event. As soon as she made a clear distinction between the event and the meaning, the meaning dissolved. And when the meaning dissolved, her suffering stopped.
And the point isn’t that the daughter was ultimately okay. Being calm and not suffering for four hours when you don’t know if there really is anything to worry about is the point. And being able to be calm so your child doesn’t suffer is priceless.
In retrospect, it wasn’t a disaster
Here’s another way to look at this issue that will make the idea of no meaning clearer. How many times have you looked back and realized that what seemed to really be a disaster at the time turned out to be a blessing in disguise? What’s important to get is that it wasn’t really a disaster at the time. You just didn’t realize that for some weeks or months.
I am suggesting that it is possible to realize at the time that the meaning we made up and added to the event is not the truth. You don’t have to wait months or years to discover that what looks like a terrible result might actually be good. It didn’t have an inherent meaning at the time. And you can learn how to recognize that. And when you recognize that at the time and you dissolve the meaning, you stop your suffering.
Buddhism agrees that suffering is unnecessary
There is more than one way to stop suffering. Practicing Buddhism for many years is one way. Learning how to dissolve the meaning you give to meaningless events is another. Here’s how to do it.
Whenever you notice a negative emotion of any kind, ask yourself what happened just prior to the emotion and what meaning you gave that event that caused the emotion. Then make a clear distinction between the event and the meaning you gave it. That’s it.
As soon as you get that the meaning is not part of the event, that it is only in your mind, it will dissolve, at which point any negative emotions the meaning has caused will disappear instantaneously. Why? Because the only way an event can produce an emotion is if you think it has inherent meaning. When you separate the meaning from an event, it loses its power to cause feelings.
And when the emotions disappear, your suffering stops. Suffering really is not necessary.
Morty Lefkoe is the creator of The Lefkoe Method, a system for permanently eliminating limiting beliefs. For more information go to http://recreateyourlife.com/free .
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Copyright © 2013 Morty Lefkoe