The Unsaintly Martyrdom of Suffering

Written on February 6, 2020

Chopra, in the book “How to Know God” says that

As long as suffering holds any temptation, there is some hint of sin, and in that arises the last tiny separation between God and the devotee

I recall one time in recovery hearing that self-pity was a flaw. Now I’m being told that suffering is tempting? What? This implies that I’m somehow drawn to suffering, or wish to have it? And our suffering was keeping us spiritually crippled.

Chopra talked about how the early Church had an ethos that seemed to covet martyrdom as a noble and even saintly desire. And this has caused many a religious person to believe that suffering was meritorious.

However, he’s suggesting that by choosing suffering, we are actually moving ourselves further from developing spiritually.

Controlling Externals

We’re so attached to protecting our ego that we shut out others in so doing. We live in fear that we’ll get hurt (or more probably our ego will suffer), and so we constantly arrange conditions outside ourself to suit what we think we’ll make us safe.

I close out many opportunities of future interactions with people by telling people my rules of how to interact with me. As my friend once said, “I wanted to call you but I haven’t cracked the code [of your rules as to when you can call, and how]. The implication is that there is a code of conduct you must follow, or that I have a code of laws that you must acquaint yourself with. The code of conduct keeps people away because it is too much trouble to crack the code.

Such a scenario shuts one off from “the sunlight of the spirit”.

Bill W. in “12 Smart Things” said the reasons for his depression was his requirement that other people meet his expectations.

…almost absolute dependence on people or circumstances to supply me with prestige, security, and the like. Failing to get these things according to my perfectionist dreams and specifications, I had fought for them. And when defeat came, so did my depression.

It’s possible some of the hopelessness and defeatism associated with spirit-numbing thoughts are caused by not getting the outcome that we think we need, and people not doing things that we expect or think that we require them to do.