Come meander with me on the pathless path of the Heart
in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of life...

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Art of Suffering - Etty Hillesum

Most of us in the West don't understand the art of suffering
and experience a thousand fears instead.  Man suffers most
through the idea of suffering, and through his fear of suffering.
We cease to be alive, being full of fear, bitterness, hatred and
despair.  Don't we live an entire life each one of our days,
and does it really matter if we live a few days more or less?
There is room for everything in a single life.

When I say I have come to terms with life, I don't mean I
have lost hope.  It is a question of living life from minute to
minute and taking suffering into the bargain.  But does it
matter if it is the Inquisition that causes people to suffer in
one century, and war and pogroms in another?

Suffering has always been with us, does it really matter in
what form it comes?  All that matters is how we bear it
and how we fit it into our lives.

I can sit for hours and know everything and bear everything
and grow stronger in the bearing of it.  And at the same time
feel sure life is beautiful and meaningful.  Despite everything.
But that does not mean that I am always filled with joy and
exaltation [about life and its circumstances].  I am often dog-
tired after standing in queues, but I know that this too is part
of life, and I know something inside me will never desert me...

We carry everything within us. God and Heaven and Hell and
Earth and Life and Death and all of history.  The externals are
simply so many props; everything we need is within us.  And
we have to take everything that comes; the bad with the good,
which does not mean we cannot devote our life to curing the
bad.  But we must know what motives inspire our struggle
[against] and we must begin with ourselves.

Living and dying, sorrow and joy, the blisters on my feet and
the jasmine behind the house, the persecution, the unspeakable
horrors - it is all as one in me, and I accept it all as one mighty
whole and begin to grasp it better, if only for myself, without
being able to explain to anyone else how it all hangs together.

If you destroy the ideas behind [suffering] which life lies
imprisoned within, you liberate your true life - and then you
will have the strength to bear real suffering...

Etty Hillesum
Jewish Mystic of the Holocaust
from: An Interrupted Life


Wishing the Jewish community
a peaceful and light filled Hanukkah
as it comes to an end...

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