chapter four – the end of suffering (extract)


“Happiness comes from suspending judgement because certainty of knowledge is impossible.”



Lila had realized the full extent of her ignorance long ago. She had recognized that she was unable to say anything certain about the life that appeared before her . . . she only knew that she existed. So how did she now live? Didn’t this realization that she didn’t really have any idea what was going on here make it incredibly difficult for her to function in this apparent world? Did Lila not find herself lacking the vital tools to get on in life? How could she possibly go on living in a ‘world’ inhabited by ‘others’ who had very fixed ideas about life and its significance?

In fact, everything became very much easier when Lila recognized the great mystery that life is. Coming to the realization that that knowledge which she’d always hoped to attain – the truth of what she was and the significance of this life – was actually unattainable and that there was no possibility of her ever knowing what she hoped to know, she found that she was able to accept this situation and finally relax into the mystery of her existence. It suddenly seemed utterly pointless to go on striving for something which she could not ever get. Why would Lila have tried to take her understanding of the absolute truth beyond what was available or possible – beyond the simple truth that she knew that she existed . . . and could know no more? Her need for an explanation of the situation in which she found herself simply disappeared as she saw that no such explanation was possible. Finally, she could stop pretending to understand what was going on here and recognize her basic ignorance.

Of course, the world in which Lila appeared told her that she should not accept her lack of understanding so easily – that she should continue to strive for that knowledge which she had hoped to attain. But if that knowledge was unavailable and impossible to attain, should she not acknowledge and accept the situation?  Lila found herself in a position where she could simply give up the search for truth completely . . . and relax into the ‘life’ that was unfolding before her. The endless pursuit of absolute knowledge, which had obsessed her for so long, could simply be discarded as its futility was finally exposed. The simple, clear recognition of her own ignorance and inability to know truth took her into a state of acceptance . . . and with her acceptance came a peace and tranquility that she had never before known.

No glimmer of hope remained in Lila’s mind about her ability to perceive and understand absolute truth. The philosophical questions which had fascinated her for so long suddenly held no interest for her and disappeared from her thoughts. She was finally free of the belief that she could know the truth of all of this, and the persistent, familiar frustration of not understanding the truth of her existence was banished forever, having been overcome by the firm conviction that what she was simply could not be known.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .

 Lila realized that everything that she had previously considered to be knowledge about herself and the world had actually just been a collection of beliefs. She had built these beliefs around herself and they had formed the foundation for her suffering. She discovered that if she was able to give up her beliefs then her capacity to suffer in certain circumstances simply disappeared. Why? Because her suffering had always been based on belief. Without belief, her suffering was simply impossible. It could not survive and flourish without an established system of beliefs to support and nourish it. Her belief had functioned as a fertile environment for the cultivation of her own misery. She recognized that if she wanted to eradicate her suffering, then the abandoning of her belief was a necessary part of the process.

At times, for example, Lila had found that she was suffering because she was afraid of death. She came to see that she was maintaining certain beliefs about what death was that made this suffering possible. The belief that death was inevitable, or the belief that death meant the end of ‘Lila’; that she would be the one that died. And of course, in recognizing these beliefs as beliefs, she knew that they were not to be trusted as ‘the truth’. These ideas may or may not be true . . . but Lila was forced to acknowledge that she simply didn’t know whether they were or not. Since she had and could have no idea what would happen to ‘Lila’ after her body apparently died, why would she have chosen to fear death? Why would she have maintained the belief that was underpinning her suffering?

In fact, the majority of Lila’s suffering had been based upon some variation of the belief that she was what she appeared to be. When she was able to let go of the rigid idea of being a person whose life was bound to the inevitability of birth and death, any pain that she experienced was suddenly transformed. When she dropped (even for a moment) the idea of her humanity, then any problem for that ‘person’ simply disappeared; the potential for suffering was thwarted. In any given situation, when she could just ask herself “Who is suffering?” or “For whom is there a problem?”, then in the clear recognition that she had no idea who was there, there was no problem . . . and no potential for suffering.

Similarly, in the recognition that she had no idea what the world that appeared before her was – no idea about its reality or relationship to her – Lila’s reactions and responses to that world in certain, seemingly unpleasant, situations were transformed. No longer did life have to be a certain way and she found that situations that had previously disturbed her peace of mind were now easily accepted. This change came about because she was now capable of abandoning the belief that any given situation should have been in some way different from the way it was. In the past, this particular belief system had provided the necessary foundation upon which to build her continual resistance to and lack of acceptance of life. Of course, Lila had never really known if circumstances could have been different from the way they were (even in the most minuscule way), but she had continued believing that they could. Now that this belief was recognized as belief, she had the chance to accept each and every situation just as it was with no idea that it might be different.

In this way, Lila broke out of her old pattern of continually losing her peace of mind and moving away from the state of tranquility that was always available to her. She was now able to break attachment to whatever belief or system of beliefs was maintaining her suffering. She simply dropped the belief and found that no problem remained. By emptying her mind of beliefs and concepts she found that she was present, here now . . . and there was no problem. She was simply able to be here, with no idea of what was going on, or where ‘here’ was, or what she was . . . and no need to understand.


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