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Lent and Suffering

Everything

Lent and Suffering

J Rourke

by J Rourke

Lent reminds us that Jesus died. And it hurt.

At the Christian college I attended, giving up sugar for Lent (and replacing it with Splenda) was one of the ways we entered into that suffering. Some of us gave up Facebook. One year, I fasted. One year, I took on vegetarianism (something I stuck to for five years). Once, I was almost convinced to give up sarcasm. Almost.

I was choosing suffering in small doses, hoping that the slight ache of missing – sugar, Facebook, hamburgers – might remind me of a greater suffering.

Another way of thinking about Lent is that Jesus submitted himself to this world, and he suffered for it. This means that Lent is a time to remember: life is suffering.

Buddhism has taught me a lot about Lent.

There are four key statements that define Buddhism (my paraphrase):

Life is suffering.
The root of suffering is submission to suffering.
Suffering can be chosen, and unchosen.
The cure for suffering is practicing redemption.

I think what this means (or should mean) is that Lent is more than just remembering. Lent invites us to do what Jesus did, to suffer, so we can experience the truth now: life is suffering. Which means, I think, that Lent has something to say about Buddhism as well. For Lent to work, Buddhism has to go backwards:

Give up something you like; stop practicing redemption.
Live with this choice.
Do not avoid your desire for this choice to change.
Abide unmet desire: suffer.

Without resurrection, a life of suffering is normal. Lent invites us to the truest of hurt: when we avoid and repress our desires, we submit to a life of suffering. But the Jesus story invites new life, something beyond a submission to suffering as usual.

So I invite you to reflect during Lent: how will you choose to end your life of suffering?

Life is suffering.
The root of suffering is submission to suffering.
Suffering can be chosen, and unchosen.
The cure for suffering is practicing redemption.

 

 

Original can be found here. Adapted.