from Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill by Matthieu Ricard
While suffering is never desirable, that does not mean that we can’t make use of it, when it is inevitable, to progress humanly and spiritually. Suffering can provide an extraordinary lesson capable of making us aware of the superficiality of many of our daily concerns, of our own fragility, and above all, of what really counts deep down within us.
Having lived several months on the verge of death in terrible pain, Guy Corneau, a Canadian psychiatrist, finally “let go”. He stopped fighting a pain that could not be soothed and opened himself to the potential for serenity that is ever present in us.
This opening of the heart only became more marked in the following days and weeks. I was plunged into nameless beatitude. A vast fire of love burned within me. I only had to close my eyes to partake of it, long and satisfying draughts…And then I understood that love was the very fabric of the universe, the common identity of each being and each thing. There was only love and nothing else…In the long run, suffering helps us to discover a world where there is no real division between external and internal, between the body and the mind, between me and others.
Ricard is a Tibetan Buddhist monk who works closely with the Dalai Lama.