A New Relationship to Suffering

Buddhist teacher Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel wrote in The Power of an Open Question: The Buddha’s Path to Freedom:

The unique beauty and kindness of the Buddha’s approach is that it never suggests we need to experience anything other than what we experience. The Buddha never said that some thoughts are bad or wrong and we should reject them. Thoughts and emotions—all manner of occurrences—arise in our lives, and we can’t control them. Buddha’s first teaching begins with a deep exploration of suffering and its causes. Buddhist contemplation provides us with an opportunity to develop a new relationship to suffering as opposed to our usual approach of denying unwanted experience. In this way, challenging circumstances become gateways for liberation. In this spirit, the Buddhist teachings emphasize the practice of including and deeply penetrating to the nature of all things rather than rejecting experiences.

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