Tao Te Ching Day 25: Living Through Suffering

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“Favor and disgrace make one fearful

The greatest misfortune is the self…”

TTC 13 Lin

I am suffering today. All my expectations about this week have slowly eroded to a heaping pile of rubble as my body has completely given up on me. I am in suffering at this moment. I see it as such sweet poetry that I would be suffering, because I know the only thing causing my suffering is my self.

The Tao Te Ching, has gone over this lesson with me many times, yet again I am here. I am again holding on to self.

“What does ‘the greatest misfortune is the self’ mean?

The reason I have great misfortune is that I have the self.

If I have no self, what misfortune do I have?”

TTC 13 (Lin)

So, although I can sit in suffering and say this went wrong and that’s not fair. My suffering is coming from the fact that Matt is desiring something different than what is. The self is caught in itself and the way it wishes things to be.

Lao Tzu, expresses in this chapter that when favor is something we love, then we create a place where disgrace can show up. Not having favor, we can have no disgrace.

I had been feeling on top of the world the past week, and began making plans from my top of the world perspective. It is amazing that I can constantly be in a place of contemplation and practicing these virtues yet they will still sneak up on me and put me on my ass.

This is the way of life.

I do find myself upset today by my circumstances and the only way to stop being upset is to be upset and let what is happening run it’s course.

It is like being caught on a carnival ride that you thought looked like it would be fun but when you got on it the safety bar was jammed in your nuts and the person sitting next to you had a weak stomach.

Of course you want to get off, you are in a lot of pain and you are covered in another’s vomit. But, the ride has to continue, because that is the ride we are all on.

It could feel like a curse or that you have been singled out by God because of something you did. But the truth is, “the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike”.

So what do we do in this situation? We accept the fuck out of it (excuse my language I cuss more when I am in pain).

How do we except it? We remember why we got on the ride in the first place. We say it was because it looked fun, but the truth is we wanted to experience it. Whether it was fun or not was subjective to the rider, and that subjective truth still exists.

So we can choose to actually enjoy our suffering by allowing it to be its most radiant, uncomfortable and disgusting self.

What do we have to lose, it is going to run its course whether we like it or not.

I tell my kids all the time, “there are two things in this life you can control, your attitude, and your effort.”

My attitude today has been a bit bitchy, honestly (again sorry). It does not have to remain that way. If we can embrace our suffering, we shrink our small self back to its right size and allow our higher self to enjoy the ride.

“So one who values the self as the world can be given the world

One who loves the self as the world

Can be entrusted with the world.

TTC 13 (Lin)

Can we love our “self” (ego) enough to give it over to the way things are? Can we love ourselves enough to not allow favor and disgrace to sway us? Can I still serve the world as though I were serving myself even through my own suffering?

We do this by being vulnerable in our suffering. When we share our hurt and failure with the world, we show that we are not above any of it, and that it is ok to feel low.

The book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl is an astonishing testimony to this aspect of the human condition. We may be suffering yet we can alleviate our our own suffering by helping someone else through their suffering.

In the book, he talks about sharing his ration of food for the week, which was less than a quarter of a loaf bread with another of his concentration camp fellows, who was in worse shape than him. It not only gave his friend strength from extra food but it lifted his own spirit and the spirit of his friends that they were in it together.

A true testament to getting through suffering and a highly recommended read for any person.

We never suffer alone, unless we decide to cut ourselves off from source. We are always as connected as we choose to be and I hope my suffering today can alleviate someone else’s out there even if just a small amount.

So let’s through our vomit covered hands in the air, let go of our broken balls, and scream like the happiest little kids on the ride. Even if tears are flowing the expression of joy in the pain is the most real and honest description of what I have ever known being human to be.

I am human, today and always.

Happy Day


Published by Matthew Whiteside

I am a writer, a storyteller, a yarn-spinning freakazoid. My life is full of two things today, lessons and blessings. I write fiction mostly but I also love to write about my life and the things I go through on a daily basis. Writing it out inspires and motivates me and that's why I do it. Plus if it does that for me maybe it will for someone else too.

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