In the Beginning, We Come from the Love of the Mother
We come into this world through the feminine, the Mother Earth, represented throughout the history of human mythology. We come from oneness, from love, the Mother Goddess representing the sacred and indivisible wholeness to which we ultimately must return.
The feminine energy, however, has been repressed in our culture; it is, however, an indispensable aspect of human consciousness. It must be brought back into consciousness and restored to full balance with the masculine if we are to achieve a harmonious balance between these two essential ways of experiencing life.
Dante Alighieri is widely considered one of the greatest poets in history, and his epic poem, La Divina Comedia, is one of our greatest works of literature. The Inferno, a description of the Christian representation of Hell, is the first of the three components of the Divine Comedy, the others being Purgatorio and Paradiso.
More than a religious work, Dante’s Inferno is a representation of the alienated individual. It is a beautiful allegory of that point in our life’s journey where, having achieved everything we are told we should want in life, we are left asking, “Is This It?”
Dante captures alienation and despair in mid life perfectly, and his harrowing description of his descent into the nine (9) Levels of Hell is a searing evocation of the pain and trials that accompany the point where we too lose our way in our journey.
To find our way back – back to our souls, as represented in Paradiso – we, like Dante, must go through Hell. We must experience the death of our “Ego” selves, of hubris, to reunite with the divine.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about language, ideas, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense.
To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetimes, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression.
Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness.
Life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by; we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.
The origin of suffering is attachment to transient things and ignorance of the temporary nature of things. Transient things do not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, and, in a greater sense, all objects of our perception. Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things.
The reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardor, pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: craving and clinging. Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow.
Objects of attachment also include the idea of a “self” which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call “self” is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.
“Nirodha” is a Sanskrit term meaning the unmaking of sensual craving and conceptual attachment – that is, the cessation of suffering and its causes. The third noble truth expresses the idea that suffering can end by attaining dispassion.
Nirodha extinguishes all forms of clinging and attachment. This means that suffering can be overcome through human activity, simply by removing the cause of suffering.
Attaining and perfecting dispassion is a process of many levels that ultimately results in the state of Nirvana. Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas. Nirvana is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it.
There is a path to the end of suffering – a slow, careful path of enlightenment and self-improvement, which is described extensively in the Eightfold Path of Buddhism. Here, one develops insight into the true, transient nature of things, allowing one to eliminate greed, delusion, anger and hatred.
It is the Middle Way between the two extremes of excessive self-indulgence (hedonism) and excessive self-mortification (asceticism); and it leads to the end of the cycle of rebirth. The latter quality discerns it from other paths which are merely “wandering on the wheel of becoming”, because these do not have a final object.
In Buddhism, the path to the end of suffering can extend over many lifetimes, throughout which every individual rebirth is subject to karmic conditioning. Craving, ignorance, delusions, and its effects will disappear gradually, as progress is made on the path.