My stumbling block

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    Hello. I have been reading here for some time, and only just decided to attempt a post.
    Maybe someone here could help me with my greatest stumbling block in my developing understanding of being.
    I read, I take online meditation courses; I listen to Eckhart Tolle, and on and on, and all of these things have moved me forward. But there is one whisper that accompanies everything I do. In contemplating abundance, balance; karma; every aspect of being: I cannot in any way find a frame that makes any sense to me about the suffering of animals. I understand why human beings suffer and how this fits in; but not animals. Example: after taking part in the day’s free online Deepak guided meditation session yesterday, in which we contemplated abundance: under all that I could feel and understand it’s truth, an image I had seen kept surfacing; bumping up against the experience: the image was of an old 1916 photograph that documented people using a huge building crane to HANG an elephant that had killed it’s keeper. Imagine the suffering of that animal: first years of living in such a cruel and unnatural environment with people such those who would do such a thing; and then driven mad with grief and despair and striking out at his cruel captors; and his life ended like this. I feel anguish about such suffering inflicted by ignorance on innocent animals that are forced to live with our cruelty. I feel anguish about that poor thing’s life of cruelty, and then a death that could only have been horrific. Such things ; I can’t fit them in; and when I am asked to contemplate abundance, or such things; a voice whispers to me:” but for some there is only suffering; there is no abundance for them”. I wish someone like Eckhart, or Deepak, or someone, would address this. Someone?



    As we encounter the hanging elephant with an open and compassionate heart, it inspires us to do good work. The poor elephant with a life of abuse. The poor abusers with a life of closed heartedness… the pain they endured brings light to fruition within us, moving us toward a life of peace and gentleness. Much like Jesus on the cross has opened the heart of many a being to the potential of love…his suffering was not in vain. Neither was the elephant’s. You’re proof of that. Is that enough to justify it? I can’t say… how strong is your love?


    With warmth,


    Hi Mia,

    Thanks for your post. It’s a good question. For me it’s dogs. Those big, brown, trusting, innocient eyes… Whew! Even thinking about them suffering makes me queasy. What kind of frame could make sense of that, could make it ultimately okay? I’m sure you’ve already heard the standard explanations. If there’s free will then cruelty has to be an option. How about, “this life is some kind of illusion so the suffering isn’t really real”? Then there’s always the idea that the elephant was bad in a previous life and is now paying the piper. None of that really helps does it? In fact, for me, I’m always going to mistrust any frame that tries to make innocient suffering okay, because it’s not okay. Now for the gobbledigook. The trick is to be okay with it not being okay.

    What can that possibly mean? You say a voice whispers to you of suffering when you’re contemplating abundance. Trust that voice, it’s calling you to make suffering part of your practice. Instead of ignoring it or trying to make it go away, turn and look. Make as much space for it as you can. If you’re feeling strong and brave let it break your heart a little bit. See what comes next. Your journey will be your own. But, for a lot of folks, as Matt said, this is the beginning of compassion flowering. Compassion for the innocient, then for the guilty, and ultimately for yourself. When the elephant returns, make room, sit quietly, be present for him and for yourself.

    No frame is going to make this okay. It shouldn’t. But, you can give it meaning, and maybe, possibily, discover beauty thereby.

    Love, Norna


    Thank you Matt and Norna for answering. “Turn and look”. I think you are right Norna. I should stop cowering. Perhaps, as you both seem to seem to be saying, compassion is a state of grace. Painful, yes. I need to think about that.


    Well, seems you have met your inner Buddha and it’s screaming “SAVE THE ANIMALS”
    A life path perhaps?

    But how many animals can you save?

    Perhaps you must start by changing the hearts of their keepers?

    How would you go about doing that?

    Remember, always remember THE POWER OF ONE

    Your other choice is to silence the whisper and live with that karma… ah… so know I ask,, who is the hanging elephant in the corner?

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