"The Thorn and the Rose: A Journey from Suffering to Love"
|TABLE OF CONTENTS
SOUL & SPIRIT
|Extracts from the author's Preface
|When our lives are comfortable we rarely think about suffering and its place in life. Generally it is an unwelcome intruder that goes against our ideas of what life should be like, and so we do our best to consider it as little as possible. So when it does come, suddenly we are confronted with fears about the future, and questions on the meaning of life.
How to deal with suffering
It is here that I hope this book will be helpful. It consists of quotes from people of all walks of life who have already been down this road and who have made discoveries that are both profound and practical. Their emphasis is on how to deal with suffering once it has arrived, and where this may lead to, rather than on analyzing why it exists and how it might be removed. Moreover, they tell us that suffering is not just incidental to our lives but is integral and deep at the center of our existence; and is not only a necessity but, later on, if one wishes and is able to travel that far, a cause of joy and higher spiritual experience. And they also show us that although we usually become embittered and resentful when suffering comes, this other direction is possible, and it is up to us to try it....
Suffering and Love are connected
The final theme, hinted at in the books subtitle, is the connection of suffering with love and positive emotion. Many of the quotes refer to how the authors experiences of suffering brought them closer to other people. And we have all had a similar experience of how shared difficulties can form bonds between the people who experience them. It seems to be the ultimate paradox that the one thing we want the least should bring us what we want the most, but this is the conclusion we are led to. It has been suggested by many teachings that we should all have love in common, but it is plain that mostly we do not even feel kinship with our fellow humans. We do, however, have suffering in common. And here, perhaps, is the secret. For if it is true that suffering and love meet in their extremity, then is not love already there, but hidden? If we were to remember that it is not only ourselves but everyone who suffers, friend and foe alike, then this could be a motive force to bring us closer to the love that both religions and philosophies have always encouraged us to develop.
Perhaps one could sum it up by saying that love is the remedy for suffering, and all suffering, eventually, after many detours, leads to love.