No event is positive or negative…good or bad. It is only in thought that what-is is deemed positive or negative in relation to a “me”. It is ignorance and the illusions of the mind really…that create good or bad…fortunate or unfortunate…etc. In Zen, it might be phrased as – vast emptiness…nothing holy…or unholy.
Suffering…as in grief…is not something that has arisen for me in many years. Pain is something that occurs from time to time. I had what the doctor thought was gout. I could not walk very well for nearly a week; and I had a limp for a month. It started out with extreme pain for about a week, but the pain decreased daily over the next month. I appreciate that, even at its worst, I could still walk and had the use of my legs…not to mention I was alive. Life wasn’t just about the pain…I had many experiences that were enjoyable (even with pain) and appreciated them. The pain was but one small aspect of everything that was going on.
Obviously not everything is peaches in life, so the trick (at first) is to look for what you can appreciate (don’t try to force yourself or make some absolute rule about it). Even in pain, your family and friends are alive…no one that you care about died today. You have a full stomach and a roof over your head – probably, if you have a computer or phone to read this. You have to recognize that there are people in the world that would love to be in your situation…even with the pain.
If someone dies and you experience grief, there is always the opportunity to appreciate that only one person has left your life (it could have been a group in a car crash)…or you could appreciate that the person died without pain (if that is the case)…or death ended their pain (if the person was in pain). It depends upon the individual situation, but if you quit looking at what you don’t have and instead look at what you do have and appreciate that…it changes things.
We have conditioned our brains/minds (and been conditioned) to usually go negative…to see things as problems or as lack or as not good enough. So it may take a bit of practice to find how – whatever it is – it is not that bad…and can be appreciated. With practice, it becomes easier to appreciate and care for more things…more often.
Perhaps it is easy to appreciate sunny days, but then you find you can appreciate thunderstorms for the lightning displays. Perhaps, you find you can appreciate snow storms because of the beauty of the fresh, pure white on everything. In time, you may find a way to appreciate rainy days..perhaps because of the freshness it brings and the renewing of the green vegetation. You may even come to appreciate the cloudy days too. Eventually, you may find…no matter what kind of day it is…you can appreciate it.
If you find you just can’t find anything to appreciate, then this is an opportunity to look at thoughts, concepts, and beliefs that you are holding. Something within you is resisting and/or denying what-is. There is something within you that is limiting your view to only a negative outlook.
Someone might ask, “are we not still in ignorance and illusion in assigning good valuations and appreciating?” As I said, pain might be appreciated because it is proof you are alive…you are not dead yet. Even what most people would call “bad” or “negative” might still be appreciated for what it is. Granted, this is not something that is easy or most can allow right away. You need to practice appreciation and play with it for a while.
Appreciation might even start out as assigning “good” valuations to things and events (and so playing with illusions of the mind), but what you are doing is destroying the meaning of labels and valuations of good and bad. If every kind of day…sunny, cloudy, rainy, storming, snowing, etc…is appreciated, then was is a bad day? Without “bad”, “good” ceases to hold meaning. The duality ceases. You could say – all is good – but such phrases hold little meaning because something has to be “not good” for “good” to have meaning.
In the end, the values and labels are dropped…and what-is is appreciated for simply being what it is. Appreciation is a feeling…not a thought. In the silence of mind (when there is no thought, labels, valuations, etc.), there can be the feeling of appreciation for what is as it is for as long as it is. It is only the tendencies of the mind, the illusions of the mind, and ignorance that won’t allow appreciation to arise.