In our last session of “The Deconstruction Dialogues” I spoke quite a bit about ‘allowing your suffering to instruct you’. A couple of years ago I also did a talk called “Suffering as Our Greatest Teacher”.  This point, on suffering, is so critical, so essential to the unfolding of conscious presence, that it cannot be ignored, set aside, or cast out in favor of another approach. There is no other approach! 

The journey into awakening is an inward journey of absolute intimacy, of tenderness, of compassion; a way of holding ourselves, and our suffering that facilitates openness and fluidity.  If, however, we are guarded against our suffering – quick to dismiss it or to seek escape from it, then we are distancing ourselves from ourselves and negating our own potential to realize who we truly are. 
The presence of suffering is always inviting us into a form of deep inquiry and examination. Who is it that is suffering, and why is this suffering present? What are we holding onto or refusing to let go of?  Most of us don’t like asking ourselves these kinds of questions. We would prefer to turn them outward, blame our circumstances, and demand that they be otherwise. But has this really worked for you?  So perhaps it’s time to cultivate a different kind of relationship with the appearance of suffering when it arises. Within the dynamics of this new relationship, we are asked to listen carefully to what our suffering is trying to communicate to us.  
Many people will say things like ‘I need to find a guru or a teacher’, but the truth of the matter is that your guru, your teacher, is already with you – your teacher comes daily in the form of suffering. You just haven’t been listening to it’s instruction. It is for this reason that you are, in this very moment, being visited by an external manifestation of your own internal need; the need to be told, directly, where to look for the true guru, the true teacher, which is none other than your suffering.  If you had a guru or a teacher, would you not show them great reverence, listen carefully, and follow their instructions? Why not then turn these qualities inward, toward your suffering, and become its faithful student?  
Again, I recognize the challenge that I am presenting you with, and the hesitation that you may feel, but countless masters of the Way, by whatever name, have all been crystal clear on this matter – you must turn inward.  You cannot turn inward and avoid what you’ve been trying to avoid all this time, which is more suffering. And so I ask you to be kind, gentle, and tender with yourself; patient and compassionate with yourself – but don’t delay any further.  
There is such great beauty, peace, tranquility, and love; such great joy beneath it all. But in order to come into direct experiential contact with these qualities of your true nature, you must break free of all that is untrue.  And your suffering… yes, your suffering, is your greatest teacher.

—Bradley Bemis is an Orlando-based spiritual teacher of non-duality and Self-realization, an inner presence coach and guide, and is currently working toward his Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He offers a combination of public discourses and private sessions for those who are interested in exploring the enlightened insights of nondual wisdom.  You can learn more at

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Working with a living teacher is not like reading a book or watching a video.  The teaching is very much a process of deconstruction; a dissolving of everything that supports your belief in separation – your belief that you are separate.  

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