The reason why suffering is universal is because virtually everyone suffers from not receiving sufficient love/nourishment as a baby, which makes us very sensitive to any lack of respect and being excluded from the friendship of our peers that we perceive as we are growing up, which occurs frequently. These rejections become part of our core insecurity that bedevils us and forms our patterns of behavior, the way we interact with ourselves and the world around us, for the rest of our lives.
For most of us, this syndrome causes us to put up a wall between ourselves and those around us. The wall is high for those we don’t know. Even for those we know, who are in our family or peer group, the wall is there, never allowing us to completely be completely at ease and thus vulnerable. We always feel we need to be on guard, to protect ourselves.
On the other hand, we crave attention and respect and yes, love. But the protective wall we’ve constructed around our heart is a barrier to such experiences. If strangers sense this wall most just don’t bother approaching us, or if they do, we are so filled with distrust that we do not react to proffered kindness and are perceived as being rude. For those within our circle, the wall allows relationships but keeps them very much on the surface. Deep, meaningful, caring relationships are not formed.
Thus, we suffer. We long for the very thing which our insecurity does not allow us to be open to. The classic internal struggle of samsara.
There are those, however, who do not react to this pattern of early rejection by building a wall. They instead seek to answer their need by pursuing love, respect, and acknowledgment with gusto. By being open, giving, thoughtful, caring.
And what happens when they offer help and friendship? Since the vast majority of people have built a wall around themselves, they are usually viewed with distrust as strangers. Or if they are allowed to enter the circle of familiarity, they find no depth there and often will ultimately be rejected because at some point the person feels more comfortable with the security of the wall than with the challenge presented by the proffered friendship. And so both suffer.
The only way out of this conundrum regardless of the path one has taken (I didn’t say “chosen” because we don’t choose the path, it chooses us) is through our disciplined spiritual practice. From understanding that the guidance we get from our ego-mind causes us suffering, that the ego-mind is not our true self, and saying “not me” to all our emotions, judgments, cravings, and attachments. To opening up our heart to embrace all aspects of our being and experience, knowing that we have everything we need inside ourselves to be at peace and happy, and rejecting our ego-mind’s guidance, returning to our heart.
From your own experience, and from reading my posts, you know the challenges of walking the path. The power of the ego-mind to pull us from the path cannot be underestimated. But with faith and discipline, we can make progress in freeing ourselves from the intervention of our ego-mind and so find peace and happiness. Hopefully the guidance I offer in my posts will be of help. For a brief overview of the most important steps, you may want to read “The 3-Legged Stool of Spirituality” and “End of Suffering Cheat Sheet.”