Suffering and Personal Growth imageSomething we’ve been discussing over the weekend in the Vibe Shifters Tribe community group is the concept of pain and suffering and whether it’s a necessary precursor to personal growth. The discussion started with these lines from Leonard Cohen’s song, Anthem:

There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in

And I wanted to know whether people agreed with this. Is it the cracks we sustain in life that allow the light to get in? Can we fully connect with Who We Really Are only if we have been broken, or have known some sort of pain?

The group felt that there was a difference between pain and suffering. They felt that with some types of pain (e.g. physical injury or illness) suffering is optional (i.e. it is a result of how we choose to think about what we’re going through), but that emotional pain (such as grief or abusive situations) always causes suffering.

The general consensus among the group was that pain, in and of itself, does not lead to growth because not all pain leads to suffering. But they did feel that contrast we experience through suffering did play a significant role in personal growth and the evolution of the self.

So here’s how I look at all of this:

I think that what makes the difference in terms of suffering is how we look at the situations. When the bad stuff happens, it either makes us bitter or it makes us stronger, and we’re the only ones who get to decide which way it’s going to go.

I think that when we choose to come here, we do so with the full knowledge and understanding that it may not always be easy. But we accept that as part of the adventure. We accept it because there IS no greater adventure than coming to a place where we forget that we are part of Source, where we forget how powerful we are, where we choose to live in limited ways just to experience what that’s like. And I think cracks, in such a scenario, may well be inevitable. Maybe getting “broken” is just part of our existence here.

The world breaks us all. Afterward, some are stronger at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

But I also look at the cracks differently. I’m not sure they are cause by damaged inflicted from the outside. I think maybe they are caused by something emerging from the inside. I don’t think the light gets IN through the cracks, I think the light was always there and that what’s really happening is that the light is getting OUT through the cracks. We bring the light here with us. Inside of us. And when we’re ready for it to come out, the cracks form, like a hatching egg. Or the splitting of a chrysalis.

There is a statue by Paige Bradley that I absolutely love (see image at the top of this page). The piece is called “Expansion” and to me, it epitomizes all of this is such a simple, beautiful way. When you look at the statue at night, it glows, and you can see that the light is within the woman, pouring out of her into the world around her. The cracks are caused by her expansion and metamorphosis into something greater, and it is that something greater that is emerging through the light.

Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light. ~Madeleine L’Engle

Perhaps suffering and personal growth do go hand in hand. But none of that can touch the light within. When you look at Bradley’s statue, it’s so easy to see that the woman can’t truly be broken, dimmed or diminished, because that light pouring out IS her — the real her, who she really is. The body, the pain, and the suffering, is just the shell. The cracks are in the shell, but they are not in the Being within.

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