"The three teachers who impart wisdom: suffering, thought and a truthful heart."
-Welsh triad (translated by Caitlin Matthews)
August 8 from The Celtic Spirit Daily Meditations for the Turning Year
by Caitlin Matthews
Yes I know I'm a bit late writing about this one, after all it is the 10th, but it's taken a couple of days of pondering to really wrap my head around this quote.
Suffering is definitely a source of discovered or learned wisdom. As a matter of fact, I think our culture tends to really emphasis suffering as a way of learning about ourselves or developing our art or even just making us a better person. It seems sometimes that suffering, though necessary, gets a lot of attention that lends to the passing judgement on some who "have it easy". Can we learn wisdom without suffering? I think so and not only can we learn without suffering, suffering doesn't necessarily mean we are going to gain any wisdom.
Now I'm not knocking wisdom imparted by suffering - I've learned my share of hard and simple truths from suffering and I think many people who take the time to use the other teachers in this quote are more apt to find wisdom through that suffering. I think it takes a great deal of thought and seeing things through a truthful heart to reach a place of wisdom in our lives with or without suffering. I also believe that one can gain wisdom in one's life without suffering. That truthful heart and living thoughtfully can definitely help one find the wisdom of life all around us.
Suffering is not necessary, but I do believe it is universal. An experience doesn't have to be huge or life threatening to cause suffering. I also think it is part of my journey to find a way to live that transcends suffering - to find peace, serenity, hope, gratitude and joy in things that once would make me suffer. And ultimately, when it's part of my journey, to transform that suffering to wisdom.
When my little Arlo Edward died, I suffered. I mourned, I shut down, I felt such pain and I never want to go through that again, but I can't in all honesty say I regret it. I would love to have my little boy here with me now arguing with me about his chores or sitting with my as I read him Harry Potter or just watching cartoons with his siblings, but his death taught me so much about myself and about Spirit. I was pleased to carry him, even for a short time, in my womb and I thank the Universe for that experience. That experience - that loss - lead me to my therapist and to OA and the people that I've met there. The experiences that have happened since then were tainted by that and I gained so much from those experiences. But I needed thought and my truthful heart to gain wisdom from all of that. I also needed the thoughts and truthful hearts of others to teach me and help me get out from under my suffering.
A truthful heart is key to success in a 12 step program. Honesty with myself is how I grow and become closer to the Universe and fight my disease. There is a term "brutal honesty" that is very appropriate to this part of the journey, though I prefer to think of it as loving honesty. Being honest with myself and my sponsor (yes you read that correctly I finally have a sponsor!) is an act of love toward myself. Being able to look at my actions and feelings honestly with love and compassion helps me to gain that wisdom about myself and to grow as a mother, wife, woman, and human being on this planet.
I don't know about other people's journey, but I do know that all three of these teachers: suffering, thought and a truthful heart are necessary for me to know wisdom in my life. I'm sure there are others who can gain wisdom without suffering, but I think the other two are key with or without it.
Now wisdom is such a fancy word, but as I approach my cronedom, I find it more and more appropriate to my journey. I truly believe my sponsor and the other people in my life impart wisdom to me in their words and actions. That wisdom is the Universe making Herself known and using those folks to teach me and guide me and show me the wisdom of the Universe.
I'm so grateful for those lessons. I'm grateful for that suffering. I'm grateful for thought. I'm grateful for my truthful heart. And I'm grateful for the people that have been put on my path to impart wisdom whether they were aware of it or not.