The Paradox of Love and Suffering

By Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT

If not for the suffering that you see all around you, the choice for Love would have been made. If the choice for Love had been made, the suffering you see around you would be no more. This is the paradox. A Course of Love T1:5.3

The power of these times is unprecedented. We are offered something previously unimaginable—the end of suffering.

Such an idea that almost boggles the imagination, yet is the gift of the intensity of the time in which we live. Suffering may reach such unbearable intensity that many will be willing to choose again—to find a new way to look at the now.

Spiritual teachers have been pointing us to the power of now for decades, telling us to love what is. Yet when suffering is profound this can feel absolutely nonsensical. How is it possible to love what is, to even see it as a spiritually gift? Impossible! Or is it?

Over the past few weeks my greatest trigger came to pass. And yet it was the gateway to absolutely knowing the Truth of what I now am saying.

If we allow ourselves to feel what we feel in the body as physical sensation—without a story of what it all means—the natural wisdom of our cellular memory is activated. When we can do that, the same Intelligence as runs the entire Youniverse begins to transmute suffering into what ultimately becomes a spacious Presence. When this Presence begins to occupy more real estate in consciousness, new insights and awareness pile in, and suffering begins to diminish. What was a theoretical construct begins to become a lived realty. Ultimately a deep sense of inner belonging grows stronger and becomes the foundation of our being.

To have the courage to turn within and allow a visceral response to suffering to move through the body—to begin to deactivate the stories, limitations, and conditioning that seem so real and unmovable—may take professional assistance. We turn to others who have navigated similar territory to witness how they came to internal liberty.

“Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary,” said Eckhart Tolle. And when suffering becomes unbearable we are highly motivated to find another way. We may develop the discipline to question our thoughts and do inquiry. What we ultimately discover is that it is our false identification with the egoic thoughts of the mind that create suffering.

We now become willing to meditate or use mindful practices to observe what the mind is screaming at us and to begin to disengage our identification from these thoughts. Buddhism recommends seeing thoughts as clouds drifting across the field of awareness. The great irony is that once we are willing to let go of our attachment to ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, and are willing to pass through the rings of fear, life begins to shape-shift into more preferred ways of living.

Yet we must be willing to question our thoughts. We must be willing to exist in the present moment without trying to deny or project what we actually feel. We learn to extend compassion to the wounded parts of the self that are experiencing what may feel like excruciating suffering. It may seem ludicrous to love those parts of self lost in depression, anxiety, panic, limitation, and scarcity, yet this is exactly what unlocks our hearts from the prison of our own making.

Right now, in this moment, are we willing to turn towards our fears, our losses, our sorrows, and tell them that they are welcome? Are we willing to extend an exquisite compassion to the split-off parts of our being that were rejected and unloved? Those parts lost in distant or not-so-distant memory? Are we willing to treat ourselves in a way that is different from how we were treated? Too often we treat these wounded parts of ourselves with the same lack of compassion they met in childhood. Too often we banish these uncomfortable energies to the basement of consciousness where they invariably fester.

As I said, over the past few weeks my greatest trigger came to pass—and it was a gateway. Or it can be seen as though a trapdoor opened in the mind and dropped me into a place of incredible Knowing.

I also had to witness the seeming source of much of the rest of my suffering, in my case the belief that my nervous system is too sensitive to live gracefully on this planet. To finally turn within and have compassion for this aspect of myself, despite my incredible bodily discomfort, was a profound turning point. This was the one aspect of myself I previously could not extend welcome to.

The great paradox is that to end suffering, to exit it permanently, we must extend the most tender kindness to all the parts within ourselves that suffer. When we have mastered this art, the gift we receive is our Divine inheritance—joy.

Savannah Hanson is a Marriage and Family Therapist, Cellular Memory Release Practitioner and Joy Coach. She spent most of her adult life moving beyond the suffering of anxiety, sensitivity, overwhelm and specialness. Until recently her work was devoted to helping clients and students in moving through suffering to exit the ego thought system. Currently she is devoted to joining with others in realizing the reign of the ego is over and suffering/learning is no longer necessary. Her focus now is in aligning with others in Knowing ourselves as the Accomplished and maintaining/sustaining the awakened Christ Consciousness with accompanying Joy. Savannah says, “at the end of my life, I want to slide in on my butt, saying ‘Whoa, what a ride!’” She is creating  an online group called “Wild Hearts: Co-Creating the Joy of Being” based largely on ACOL. To join the group, book a session, or simply to connect, Savannah can be reached at or (530) 575-5052. Her website is www.RisingasLove.Love

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Clear Light: Love for All
By Rick Carlson

remembering the light, 
astounding in its brilliance
everything else dissolved, 
there was only light

I ceased to exist as separate self
just pure awareness, nameless, 
no body, no location

it was unconditional Love 
beyond any Love known before
total bliss, perfection, 
no unanswered questions

everything came together as one, 
no fear or confusion

intuitively it was known 
this Love is the source
where we come from, 
where we return

and where we are now, 
if only we see it

then I was back in a body 
in the world of form and separation
in a house in a city
with all the baggage of name 
and imagined identity
and anxiety 
and longing 
and seeking 
and grasping

holding on to things 
that aren’t even real

for three decades 
I have pondered the experience of the light
tried to find my way back, 
needing that Love
yet it was a gift of grace, 

inside me, 
all around me

and I will return 
when I am truly ready to quit trying

when I surrender: 
it could happen in this very moment

Rick Carlson, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has studied ACIM since 1983 and ACOL since 2006. He recently retired from a career as a personal attendant to disabled adults. He says, “This poet is simply one of Love’s messengers. So, dear reader, are you. Poetry is a mirror that doesn’t break if it’s dropped once in a while.” Rick has been an amateur poet since he was a teenager.