Seeking suffering

In reading the Bodhisattvacaryavatara, I have noticed that Shantideva has a unique perspective when it comes to dealing with suffering. I think that most people including myself try to avoid situations that could potentially lead to suffering at all costs, but Shantideva seems to instead “seek” out such situations and see them as opportunities for growth (59). This attitude is reflected in verse 100 from the Perfection of Forbearance chapter in which Shantideva questions how “[he can] hate those who liberate [him] from the shackle” and are “a door closed to [him] as [he seeks] to enter upon suffering” (59). I found this verse to be useful because it demonstrates how the people who make us angry are actually giving us an opportunity to learn a lesson and to practice forgiveness. Especially now with COVID-19 creating so much stress in everyone’s lives, it can be easy to become frustrated or angry at others, whether it be the people we are quarantining with or the politicians who we feel are making incorrect decisions. However, I think that maintaining Shantideva’s mindset of suffering and anger can ease this stress tremendously.

One thought on “Seeking suffering”

  1. This is a great point, Phoebe. These difficult times have truly been a challenge to our resilience as individuals, and an entire species. Modern life has brought so many comforts to us that we can forget how to fight and persevere when we are confronted with a change. As you point out, the suffering we are experiencing now is a tremendous opportunity for us to build our tolerance toward difficulty. We should lean into the suffering brought upon us to strengthen our capacity for resilience and the resolve we have in achieving our goals.

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