Suffering That Hurts vs. Suffering That Helps

suffering that hurts -- suffering that helps -- man alone suffering

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My original post on this topic concluded with these lines:

Both living in truth and living in falsehood bring suffering.

In my next post, I’ll talk about why the suffering that truth brings is better.

Have you ever had a terrible, miserable, horrible, awful experience that, when it’s over, you look back on it and say, “That was beyond horrible– but I wouldn’t trade it for anything”?

Most people have.

Severe illness of yourself or illness/death of a loved one.

A major business/financial failure.

A divorce.

To live is to have horrible experiences, to go through stuff that really, really sucks.

It sucks away your passion.

It sucks away your enthusiasm and joy.

For a while, it sucks away a lot of what you have always recognized as your life.

But when you look back on those experiences and know you wouldn’t trade them for anything, that’s because they were redemptive. Something good came out of them. You know you’re better for all the suffering you did.

You’re better. Or stronger. Or wiser. Or more compassionate. Or deeper. Or gentler. Or more humble, or calm, or patient, or honest.

You’re just better.

Often suffering isn’t in our control, but sometimes it is.

And anytime you  have a choice in the matter, always choose redemptive suffering over non-redemptive suffering.

Decide to Never Let Fear Keep You from the Truth

the truth -- never let fear keep you from truth

The most significant moment of my moral life was the moment I decided to never allow fear, or being offended, to keep me from considering whether something is true.

Make that commitment and your life will never be the same. It’s the moral equivalent of taking the red pill.

When you make that decision, you wake up. You start seeing with clarity you never knew was possible. The first thing you start to see is your own fear and defensiveness, how deeply rooted in you they both are, how quickly you become offended and fearful.

Five Things to Remember Before Sharing Truth with Someone

truth telling

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My work with individuals — students, parishioners, and clients — is built squarely on the critical role of truth and truth-telling. Below are some of my core beliefs about truth, and these core beliefs determine how I approach the truth in my work with people. I think more people (especially, but not only, religious people) need to be aware of these principles and observe them carefully.

1. Whenever possible, truth should never be forced on anyone.

We can force truth on a person in twenty seconds, whether they accept it or not. It may take them years to discover it on their own.

It’s worth the wait.

Ruthlessly Honest

truth

Image courtesy of TW Collins, under Creative Commons.

From a recent Facebook post:

I want to be ruthlessly honest in my intellectual, spiritual, and political life and in my writings. I want to serve the truth and only the truth, not caring at all what a single person thinks otherwise. I’m not out to “defend” an ideology — just to learn and speak what is true. This even applies — especially applies — to religion.

If you need me to defend your ideology because you’ve already made up your mind about how things are, you’re going to be disappointed. I’m not your spin doctor.

Living Truthfully, chapter 4: The Roles of Fear and Mythology

books-fear

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Chapter 4 – The Roles of Fear and Mythology

Fear is the number one reason why people do not live truthfully. Fear keeps people locked up in themselves, and isolated from one another. Fear is the soil where hatred grows, both of self and of others. If you could get 10,000 people into a stadium who are not living well and ask them why, the vast majority would give you an answer that would have fear at its source. Fear paralyzes us.

Another major reason people do not live truthfully is because of their personal mythologies. A personal mythology is a preferred view of yourself that you will cling to at almost any cost. You will ignore all evidence that you may not be the person you cling to in your mythology. You will probably take offense at people who present you with a perspective of yourself that does not fit into your mythology. You will avoid watching TV programs that make it hard for you to continue to believe your mythology. You will avoid people who challenge your mythology. In fact, you will almost build your entire life around the maintenance of your mythology.

I will be posting those chapter summaries (which are direct quotes from each chapter) over the next couple of weeks. That will give you a good idea what the book is about and whether you think you will be interested in reading it when it is finally available. If you read these posts, I sincerely ask you to consider leaving a comment for me. Your questions and comments will only help me deliver a better book, and I want to write the best book I can possibly write.