Suffering. The inevitable part of life none of us want and try to avoid yet it seems to find each one of us. It is as inescapable as death itself.
It is one of the connections that bind us together as living feeling beings. It comes in many forms. From the pains of birth to the grief of death. It comes from wars and disease, poverty and crime, heartache and longing, loss and hardship to the suffering we inflict on ourselves and others through carelessness or ignorance. It can be for greater benefit or seem to have no purpose but to break us. The degree each individual experiences suffering varies, and it is not up to us to judge that. We are all equal and valuable. We all want to be happy.
Suffering has the capacity to bring out the best in us as human beings. The flip side is that suffering can also bring out the worst in us. The truth is that neither you, nor I – are strangers to suffering. All that differs is the degree and the way we react.
The definition of suffering is ‘the pain, misery, or loss experienced by a person who suffers; the state or an instance of enduring pain; physical or mental pain that a person or animal is feeling.”
I cannot for certain explain why we suffer. That part of my journey is still being travelled. But it is true that suffering is inevitable throughout life. Pondering on the Strength card has provided some guidance in dealing with suffering in order to maintain balance and compassion when we experience the inevitable as we move through our
When we meditate or ponder on the actual tarot card of Strength, the figures can be read as reference to our psyche or our self. The beast for instance is symbolic here of our animalistic
nature – the wild tendencies we have within us that connect to the lower self. This is a normal part of each of us.
The first step is looking at some of the positive ideas the Strength card invokes versus the qualities that may consume us when we are afflicted by pain.
As I reflect on the way I personally have handled suffering in my life over the years, I can see from the Strength card that many times I allowed my lower unrefined self to engulf me. This resulted in much more intense and prolonged suffering – which was unnecessary in one sense, but has also provided me with the potential to learn from and grow.
How often in our experience of suffering have we naturally turned to our shadowy side to deal with the pain. This is our basic instinct. This of course only ends up compounding our experience and making it worse. Instead of facing our pain with grace and reality, we may do anything possible to fight what has been or is being. We have the power within to react anyway we choose.
The maiden is symbolic of the higher consciousness that we are all capable of. Her presence demonstrates how learning to understand the beastly side of the self, and forming a bond of awareness with it can result in benefits not only in our approach to the harshness of suffering, but to all the aspects we refuse to accept about ourselves. Almost acting like a filter that purifies and refines our thoughts and reactions for our wellbeing, as opposed to denying or locking them up.
This useful bond creates an awakened and balanced individual, with perspective and a compassionate gentle approach. Awake, conscious and fully equipped to respond to suffering in a way that is constructive and helpful, based on realistic vision and insight.
Meditation on Strength may assist us in making the suffering as minimal as possible. With consistent practice on any degree of hardship, perhaps we might eventually develop inner balance to utilise naturally.
Through our hardships we grow and learn. Suffering has much to teach us upon deep reflection. I ponder what need we would have for compassion, understanding, empathy if suffering were pointless. I ponder also the need for self control if there were no consequences to our actions…. in turn the Strength card from the Tarot has much to teach us also.