We live in a world full of information and disinformation. It is hard to know sometimes if what we are doing or asking for is right or wrong. Much anxiety and depression can be created from the strong beliefs of others which can lead to much suffering. In Western Society, we are often taught that we can solve suffering or that we must just experience it stoically (E.g. stiff upper lip). Suffering is almost never stated to have a purpose except for it to be bad lack and misfortune. In this blog, I will attempt to unpack how I manage manage self-doubt and try to make peace with my own suffering.
In the picture above, you will see three circles surrounding each other with the top layer labelled Self Wisdom, the middle layer Science & Philosophy and the core Faith (I call it the heart). When I’m in doubt on a issue I will usually start with the top layer and if necessary work my way down the layers.
Self Wisdom is based on my own previous experiences and judgements on issues. It is usually a synthesis of what I have learnt from Science, Philosophy and my Faith. For example, I’ve came to the conclusion my condition makes it difficult to work because I am vulnerable to too much stress, the inflexible welfare (social security) system, the Social Contract isn’t fair and the medication has limitations when it comes to side effects.
Science and Philosophy is where I look to learn more wisdom and what Western society tends to reflect when it comes to taking the right course of action or making conclusions. There is much information and disinformation out there as well as ideology. I believe market fundamentalism is the most dominant ideology today. In interpreting information and points of view I sometimes go back to quotes by well known philosophers.
All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosopher (1844-1900)
I think, therefore I amRené Descartes, Philosopher (1596-1650)
Finally, if I am still in doubt or need more guidance I turn to my Christian Faith. It’s true that the Bible is a huge book with some passages that seem to conflict at face value without a deeper understanding. At it’s core I go to Jesus’ teachings in the four canonical Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Though it’s still important to aim for my Faith to be at the heart like a moral compass of my Self Wisdom and how I interpret Science & Philosophy.
Science and Philosophy (particularly ideology) dominates the West but isn’t always compatible with my Self Wisdom and my Faith. If todays Science and Philosophy is unable or refuses to solve it, I will try to reflect on my Faith in other ways to navigate it. For example, When I was homeless in a psychiatric hospital for 4 and a half months last year I was in a powerless situation. Psychiatric hospitals are not homes and very triggering environments due to the restrictions and lack of compassionate staff. I was dehumanised to a person with little value. My Faith in Jesus meant I read the Bible most days. I was reassured that Jesus loved me.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.Matthew 5:1-12, New Testament, Holy Bible
The story of Jesus carrying his cross to his crucifixion gives me some peace in suffering. Though I maybe considered wrong to society for not being Rich, I believe I am worshiping God as best as I can. Jesus promised eternal life after death in the Kingdom of God so my suffering is not entirely in vain.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.Matthew 6:19-24, New Testament, Holy Bible
Life is very difficult to navigate that sometimes I just want to give up. This framework has helped me cope better but I still have my challenges. It’s also true that my Christian Faith will be different to someone else’s Christian Faith. It’s also possible over time my Christian Faith could change as I reinterpret scripture and see different perspectives. Jesus as my cornerstone (foundation) is what helps me try to live life on a righteous path.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.James 1:2-6, New Testament, Holy Bible