Photo by Fabrizio Lonzini
May joy and happiness be for us a sign as to how close the gods have attracted us, and may our pain and suffering be a sign as to how far removed we are from what we are to become as good human beings. This is the fundamental attitude toward karma without which we cannot really move ahead in life. In what the world bestows upon us as goodness and beauty, we must conceive the world powers of which it is said in the Bible, “And he looked at the world and he saw that it was good.” But inasmuch as we experience pain and suffering, we must recognize what man has made of the world during its evolution, which originally was a good world, and what he must contribute toward its betterment by educating himself to bear pain with purpose and energy.
~Rudolf Steiner – GA 130 –Facing Karma – Vienna, 8th February 1912, courtesy of The Great Rudolf Steiner Quotes Site
The other day, I was speaking with a very close friend of mine who strives to live by the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. The subject of our conversation was primarily regarding pain – more specifically, the meaning of one’s pain. So I thought it fitting to share this quote today.
I think Steiner’s concluding sentence is right on the money. If we are to cultivate the “good” in this world, which is inherently “good,” we must look to ourselves, and specifically, our suffering “with purpose and energy.” In other words, with meaning.
For it is our good will that gives meaning to the pain, and thus to life. Yes, there are plenty who believe that pain is meaningless, or that pain is punishment, or that pain is a temporary stop on the way to heaven. But all of those thoughts are impersonal, and divert one’s responsibility for one’s own pain.
I have recently (and will continue to for some time) been experiencing some immense emotional pain, which I will not go into at this time. What I can say is that I’ve noticed many moments in which I’ve desperately wanted to escape this pain. Moments in which I’ve given into that urge only to realize it later.
None of those escapist behaviors make me feel better. In fact, they make me feel weaker because I’m not taking ownership of my suffering. So I’m striving every day to find the meaning in my pain through my own good will.
And through it I realize what I’ve always believed. Pain is awful, terrifying at times, but pain is also renewal, growth, clarity. And it is mine and mine alone. I won’t shun it no matter how ugly it seems. I’ll hold it close to my heart even though it burns. And I know that eventually the fire will die out.
This is how I believe we better the world as Steiner puts it. We start with ourselves .We acknowledge our pain. And we approach it with good human will.
Wishing you a beautiful week.
Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained singer and actor living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.