The Ego's Fear of Humiliation

From Dancing with Life by Phillip Moffitt:

dancingwithlife When you collapse into suffering, it is because your ego sees suffering as a personal failure and feels humiliated. This sense of failure is based on the ego's mistaken idea that winning in life means no suffering. Your ego may well be under the delusion that the opposite of suffering is happiness. When your ego believes this, then every moment of suffering is felt as a personal defeat, insult, indignity, or proof of your inadequacy or of life being unfair. This is subjective suffering, self-centered and neurotic.

Your subjective dukkha is your ego suffering from its own ideas about how things are supposed to be. When things go wrong, your ego may feel humiliated even though you may not consciously realize it. Such suffering is your ego's narcissistic and mistaken, self-centered reaction to life's challenges. The ego collapses, becomes depressed, or grieves for itself. Or it becomes resentful and refuses to participate, or helpless and frozen with dread. Or the ego contracts into anger and lashes out. In its delusion the ego is unwilling to voluntarily carry the darkness of life. When suffering is penetrated by mindfulness and compassion, the ego dies a thousand deaths and yet ends up healthier for it. Your ego isn't bad, nor are you a bad person because you have an ego. The ego is a result of causes and conditions and, in my view, is necessary for a healthy, whole life. I tell students don't leave home without it, but don't let it drive the vehicle on your spiritual journey.

The idea of being willing to bear your suffering like a carriage carrying a heavy load is a hopeful, comforting image. But if the opposite of your suffering isn't happiness, then what is it? Nonsuffering is having a relaxed, composed mind that is fully present with whatever is occurring in the moment. And it is the capacity to be in relationship to whatever is arising such that you're able to respond from your deepest intentions. And it is a feeling of relatedness in your life that is free from aversion to suffering.