#6 Can We Put an End to Suffering?

During my lunch break, I walked across the street to a sitting stairwell next to the First Republic Bank Headquarters. It’s become a welcomed respite from the chaos of the city, even though it’s within the confines of it. It’s a place where people talk with friends, check their phones, or like me, just sit alone for the sheer reason of being alone.

I noticed a man. He was Asian, mid-40’s, dreary, and tired looking and on the cusp of exhaustion. He wore a crinkled white shirt, faded blue dockers, and a belt that had its miles numbered with shoes that had a little too much heel support. His slumped disposition lasted a few moments as his son and wife greeted him. The little one ran to his father as if it were a race and fell into his arms. Immediately, the man was full of energy and vitality. Even if for a brief moment, all was right in his world.  Oddly, I felt the same.

Can we put an end to suffering?

The short answer is no. I assume that’s not what you wanted to hear. Most are in the search for the impenetrable, eternal, and long-lasting feeling of joy. If this is your search, then you will be searching forever.

The Problem: Like sadness, happiness is a reactionary feeling that elicits memory as a means to feel justified. My advice to you is the hell with anything that is justified through memory, no matter if it’s good or bad. Now to be clear, I’m not talking about the memory that comes with knowledge. I’m referring to psychological memory or the mental carnage we inflict upon ourselves.  The memory of the past is nowhere to be found because it simply doesn’t exist. Like bad memories, good ones like our first kiss, become hardcoded and cemented into our neural pathways. This pathway creates a false tunnel of what happiness is and leaves us chasing a feeling of what once was.

The Fix: We can never seize the moment because it’s always seizing us. It then becomes important to NOT be present, but rather release all the barriers that you’ve built from enjoying the present. You can meditate for hours on end, practice the latest trends in mindfulness, do yoga with goats, trip on acid at Burning Man, ingest all the self-help mantras one can handle, but unless you can make peace with what’s in front of you at all times, then this joy will be kept hidden from you.

I’m not exactly sure when the light of awareness turned on in my life. Granted, moments of the past and the anxiety of the future tremble within the forest of my soul, but far too infrequently to even consider today.

Our lives are temporary, insignificant, and precious.  It’s a blink of an eye in the cosmic perspective. If you can bring moments of joy into your soul, then you have a chance to feel the eternal. This is what I’ve come to learn as love.

It’s my calling to show you where to look but only you can see. I hope you do if you haven’t already. I hope you see what I see, but I hope you see it better. I hope you see everyone as another version of yourself. This is when comparison ends and the need to help everyone and everything on this planet becomes a virtue.

With Love,

Anand Swamy

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