In the middle of all the running there comes a time for absolute stillness. When it's necessary to stop and clear your mind of all the questions you've been asked, all the street signs you've followed, all the nights you've been too tired to sleep and mornings you've been too stiff to move.
There are layers of what we call "suffering". What we've been doing this month is "hurting", not suffering. It's a layer of pain laid over a fatigue deep enough to make us weep at times, but it is not suffering. Suffering is pain of the soul, the kind that comes at the loss of a spouse, a child, a loved one, or even the realization that the justice and fairness you took for granted as a child were never available to everyone, and are less and less available now to anyone. Suffering is being hungry, homeless and helpless to do anything about it. No jobs "to get", nowhere to turn and a compassion deficit in every direction.
Being unable to do anything about this lack of compassion for those suffering deprivation and want is what causes me to suffer, not my own minimal aches and pains. I can subdue my physical discomfort with a pain pill and some meditation. I need something more powerful for my suffering; thus The Great Bell Chant; also known as The End of Suffering, though I admit it brings me to tears as well.
If you don't see the embedded video click here: http://youtu.http://youtu.be/ja20ib2PljI
Narration by Zen Teacher Thích Nhất Hạnh, chant by brother Phat Niem, music composed by Gary Malkin. Absolutely beautiful photography and vocals.
Teacher Thích Nhất Hạnh (Thầy), who is 88 and has been frail for the last two years, suffered a severe brain hemorrhage on 11 November and is a semi-conscious state in hospital in Plum Village monastery and mindfulness practice center in France. The Plum Village Sangha ask for prayers for Thầy's recovery.