Sunday, January 30, 2011

quotes & questions re: avoidance and resistance

Neurosis is the avoidance of necessary suffering.  ~ Carl Jung

The fears we cannot climb become our walls.  ~ Noah Ben Shea

Living structure is always a record of previous development.  ~ Fritjof Capra

All human life can be interpreted as a continual attempt to avoid despair.  ~ Paul Tillich

What necessary suffering are you avoiding?

Are there fears you can still not surmount?

What does the current structure of your life reveal about your inner development?

Is any of your life lived in a futile attempt to avoid despair?

Can you begin to contemplate the good that could come from embracing suffering, fears, inner growth and unavoidable despair?


There is no coming to consciousness without pain.  ~ Carl Jung

Nothing is learned by turning away, nothing surmounted ...  ~ Ellen Bryant Voigt

When the resistance is gone, so are the demons.  ~ Pema Chodron

Must the threatened ego always be at the helm?  ~ Judith Brown

Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.
Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke


  1. dang....nice questions...well maybe not nice, just necessary

  2. Buddha's first noble truth is the truth of suffering. His point is not to cultivate suffering, but to get familiar with suffering, to get to see how suffering ticks, and to learn how to bring suffering to cessation. The Eightfold Path he lays out is designed to help us undo suffering.

    This post reminds me of the Buddhist remark: "Pain is inevitable, suffering optional."

    As you suggest, attempting to avoid/deny suffering is bound to fail.

  3. hi bonnie, well, as you know and likely live . . . we choose our form(s) of suffering. sometimes that includes the choice to suffer through avoidance. however, i'm not sure that it's altogether a bad idea to 'avoid despair'. it's important to manage suffering, true despair, and to move through the stages of consciousness at the right time and in a healthy unforced manner. i believe that people intuitively choose to wait for those tools to become available until they themselves are available to the tools. the rilke words rock the piece!!! steven

    I love your challenges!! :-) I think life is about balance - and honoring, living, owning all aspects of our lives including the despair.
    So good to see you.
    Love Gail

  5. What amendment can we invoke to respectfully decline to answer these thumping question? ;)

  6. Great comments everyone!

    Lorenzo: You can certainly take the/a fifth - of the verbal or liquid persuasion! ;)

  7. Great to have you back, Bonnie. Wonderful images and great quotes. I love Jung's statement that neurosis is the avoidance of necessary suffering.

  8. Kathryn of Aragon was supposed to have said, "If I have to choose between joy and despair, then I choose despair because it brings me closer to God." I agree that is so often true, but why does it have to be. Can not joy bring us closer to the divine as well?

    Julie Magers Soulen Photography

  9. Julie: Yes! Why would it have to be either/or? Joy is a magnificent conduit to the divine.

  10. Dear Bonnie,
    Defense mechanisms/distorted self images and Death come across my mind. After starting self acceptance, fears have gone. Once, 'self' was found, a simple life is preferable which focuses on it. Finding identity has α and Ω which confidently responds to any context, grows and leads to another challenge. But a person who finds identity will not be easily stumbled and bear any situation with joy, is my feeling.
    Kind regards, Sadami

  11. When Inge was in treatment for breast cancer, one day she said to me: I suddenly decided that it is OK to be sad.

    And then she didn't feel bad, feeling sad.

    I bought a pretty cool book that is all hand written (printed, but it seems to be her hand writing through the whole book) by Sark, titled: Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change Into Gift and Opportunity. It sounds sort of forced, but I have to say, it's pretty good so far, and she begins with this topic on avoidance.

    I appreciate Steven's comment.

  12. Who is the Judith Brown that you quote?

  13. Paul - Judith Brown should actually have been cited as Judith Simmer-Brown. She is a Buddhist and a professor of religious studies at Naropa University.


Comments are always read and appreciated.

(I am grateful for all awards received. However, I ask that this be an "award-free zone" and meme-free zone. Thanks for understanding!)