Feelings are not suffering

Feelings are not suffering.

If we look at how much of our lives are oriented around feeling better, we will see its the driving force behind most of what we do. This is craving and aversion, the buddha spoke of craving and aversion as the cause of suffering, in simple words its just wanting things to be different.

Wanting to bypass our human experience, a wishing to cut out the so called "negatives" and only experience the "positives". Wishing to totally transcend things so we can escape our pain. Because being human is painful.

We may be chasing enlightenment/self realisation, or the perfect relationship, the perfect job, the next healing modality that will heal us completely, or the next drug/drink. Either way its the same thing.

Philosopher Allan Watts said it perfectly, If your chasing enlightenment, its no different to being young and chasing a candy bar, "I want to get that goodie", only now its a spiritual goodie.

Whats the payoff of getting that goodie? Well usually, we believe if I get it I get to feel better, I get to not suffer. So suffering naturally causes a seeking to relieve that suffering. which is natural, and not bad, its built in to us. But its done without understanding what suffering really is.

So now, lets look at suffering, what is it? A feeling itself is not suffering, whether we call it depression or anxiety or trauma or whatever, the feeling by itself is certainly not suffering, its just a sensation held within the body. The words suffering, depression, anxiety, are certainly not suffering. They are simply words. The situation itself is not suffering, the situation by itself, is just a situation, however it may look, it is still not this "thing" we call suffering.

So where is suffering? what is suffering? If I am to look honestly at my own experience, suffering arises when I am arguing with the moment, when I set up a resistance that says "I don't want it to be this way" which is a futile argument, as I have never met anyone who has won an argument with the reality of the moment. If you have, please let me know 🙂

So feelings are not suffering, suffering is the argument we have with the feeling/situation. The sensation, when allowed and welcomed can be felt, and in that moment when we stop arguing with it, there is pain without suffering, accompanied by Silence/Stillness/Presence.

This is where inquiring into our reality takes us, inquiring into our thoughts and beliefs, and under investigation they collapse and we glimpse things as they really are, and everything “just is”. That is awakening.


Matt Nettleton


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