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Contemplating suffering

Life is a kind of school but not one in which the syllabus is specifically tailored for the student, I think. Suffering (as well as pleasure) is there in abundance, and we can learn important lessons from suffering. We can acquire the capacity for empathy and compassion, for example. But I don't think, as I used to, that the pain level is necessarily turned up in conformity with our capacity to learn from it. Many people suffer terribly all their lives without learning a thing from it.

Suffering is a kind of rich loam from which one can evolve spiritually, just as a lotus can only grow from mud. But the same soil can also nurture bad seeds. Life presents us with circumstances and lets us do what we want with them. It doesn't necessarily give us the right circumstances to suit our disposition. But if we are sensitive not just to the circumstances, but to the lessons they potentially carry for us, there will be an evolution in our ability to understand life. And it will seem to us that we have been given exactly what we need; and in fact for one who is capable of such learning, this is always true.

Meaning is not inherent to reality (i.e. pain may come to us at random and does not target us specifically). And wisdom is not a matter of investing life with meaning (i.e. we do not need to adopt the superstition that we are being kindly mentored by our reality, and therefore the circumstances themselves are meaningful). The scale of meaning is a kind of human measure. Actually the universe is neither meaningful nor meaningless. If we can look back at the universe with the same dispassionate eye with which it seemingly regards us, our perception and frame of reference will begin to change. The view that we are victims or beneficiaries of an agency that is external to us begins to change too.