The movement of descent and discovery begins at the moment you consciously become dissatisfied with life. Contrary to most professional opinion, this gnawing dissatisfaction with life is not a sign of mental illness, nor an indication of poor social adjustment, nor a character disorder. For concealed within this basic unhappiness with life and existence is the embryo of a growing intelligence, a special intelligence usually buried under the immense weight of social shams. A person who is beginning to sense the suffering of life is, at the same time, beginning to awaken to deeper realities, truer realities. For suffering smashes to pieces the complacency of our normal fictions about reality and forces us to become alive in a special sense—to see carefully, to feel deeply, to touch ourselves and our worlds in ways we have heretofore avoided. It has been said and truly I think, that suffering is the first grace. In a special sense, suffering is almost a time of rejoicing, for it marks the birth of creative insight. But only in a special sense. Some people cling to their suffering as a mother to its child, carrying it as a burden they dare not set down. They do not face suffering with awareness, but rather clutch at their suffering, secretly transfixed with the spasms of martyrdom. Suffering should neither be denied awareness, avoided, despised, not glorified, clung to, dramatized. The emergence of suffering is not so much good as it is a good sign, an indication that one is starting to realize that life lived outside unity consciousness is ultimately painful, distressing and sorrowful. The life of boundaries is a life of battles—of fear, anxiety, pain and finally death. It is only through all manner of numbing compensations, distractions and enchantments that we agree not to question our illusory boundaries, the root cause of the endless wheel of agony. But sooner or later, if we are not rendered totally insensitive, our defensive compensations begin to fail their soothing and concealing purpose. As a consequence, we begin to suffer in one way or another, because our awareness is finally directed toward the conflict-ridden nature of our false boundaries and the fragmented life supported by them.
Ken Wilber
Dearest Jessamin,I have not had a letter from you in a month. (You are a terrible daughter.) I blame the slowness of the boats and hate the distance between us. (How could you leave me?)Your cousin Jacabo responded to my inquiries after your well-being with only the vaguest of terms. (I threatened Jacky Boy if he did not update me on your life.) I take this to mean you have seen him regularly and have also forbidden him from updating me on your life in the big city. (Why are you spending your time with him when he is clearly not running in the right circles?)How are your studies? Have you met anyone interesting? (Why have you not given me news of your father?)I suspect you do not write because you have found someone. (Please, please tell me you have found someone.) I know it. (I beg the spirits for it each night.) A mother can feel these things. (I will drag you back to the island and force you into marriage if you do not take care of it yourself.) Please tell me whether he is of a good family and when I can expect happy tidings to share with my friends. (Do not do anything I cannot crow about to the neighbors.) I knew you would not be on your own for long. (Give me grandchildren. Soon.) Dear Henry has asked after you, though, so if you are lonely you know you have many options here. (I pestered Henry until he finally asked after you and took it as a sign he still wishes to marry you.)Write me soon or I will perish for want of daughterly affection. (You are a terrible daughter.)All my love, (All my love,)Mama
Kiersten White