Quotes on Suffering from written works related to Advaitism.
You cannot be both unhappy and fully present in the Now.
-- Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth (2005)
Life is, whatever we believe or don't believe. This moment is, however much we resist
it, however much we try to escape it.
But no escape is really necessary. This world is only a problem from the point of a separate
individual struggling to make something out of his life before he dies, trying to stay safe, to
succeed, to find meaning in a seemingly meaningless world, to find love, to avoid pain and
But as the existence of the separate and isolated individual begins to be seen through, this
apparent life story begins to be seen for what it always was: a dream, no more, no less. A
narrative playing out in awareness, a story, a movie, a play, a great cosmic game.
A game is only serious when you forget it's a game.
-- Jeff Foster in LIFE WITHOUT A CENTRE - Awakening From the Dream of Separation, pg 144
... But there's nothing you can do about it. Because already, this "you" is just a fiction,
just a story, just a thought. The entire struggle is a wonderful dream, a story playing out in
awareness, a fantastical entertaining and mesmerising movie. And the movie plays itself out,
exactly as it must. It's the idea that you can do anything about it that is at the root of all
suffering and frustration. The only suffering is the idea of choice.
-- Jeff Foster in LIFE WITHOUT A CENTRE - Awakening From the Dream of Separation, pg 33
Suffering is fine, seeking some sort of spiritual enlightenment or liberation is fine, precisely
because there is nobody there in the first place. "A person at the centre of it all" is just
another appearance, another belief, another part of the story.
-- Jeff Foster in LIFE WITHOUT A CENTRE - Awakening From the Dream of Separation, pg 2
Suffering is generated in the mind, in thinking. It does not exist anywhere else. The thoughts that create suffering are those
that revolve around the sense of a separate self. This idea of being a limited separate being is the root driver of all
self-centered experience. By inquiring into the validity of this core concept you can verify whether it is true or not.
If it is seen to be false, then the basic cause is removed (through the seeing). This pulls the plug on the cause of suffering.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 20
Suffering ultimately lies in our own thoughts and nowhere else. The particular thoughts involved specifically are self-centered
thoughts that revolve around who and what we imagine ourselves to be. These in turn are rooted in, or based upon, the fundamental
concept of a separate 'I' or limited self, which we take to be present and which we mistake as who we are.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 33
You are not the limited person you have taken yourself to be. Look for the separate self and you
find it entirely absent. Seeing this, suffering, doubt and confusion effortlessly drop away,
revealing your natural state of innate happiness and freedom.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 59
... once there is thought, there is no reason why anything cannot be imagined. One of those imaginings is the belief in a central
character. That happens to be the source of all suffering. From a practical perspective, the most important thing is to
uncover the false belief and live free of suffering. That is why Buddha focused primarily on the cause and end of suffering and
was not inclined to discuss speculative metaphysics and theories. If you want to be free of suffering, doubts and confusion just
look at the basics and resolve the fundamental ignorance.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 94
Life goes on. There are events, decisions and things to work out. The whole universe is a vast sea of activity, after all.
However, the sense of having personal problems disappears. ... Things go a certain way or not, but the concern over the outcome
is gone. There can be tremendous care and intelligence applied. All the thoughts and feelings go on just fine. But taking things
So, personal suffering, doubt, confusion anxiety and so forth are left behind. The reason is that the separate person who
previously owned or identified with things is removed from the picture. It has nothing to do with the outer events or situations.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 107
Problems, thoughts, feelings and so on continue to arise. But when the 'I' is seen through then there is no one to take hold of
them and identify with them. So situations still arise and are dealt with but without the tension and identifying as a separate
-- A Questioner to John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 107
In general, the ultimate source of suffering is not usually fully addressed by the standard types of counseling and therapy.
They may be good but might not have the full answers. That needs to be tested and verified in one's own experience.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 109
All problems, doubts and questions (collectively called 'suffering') are just thoughts. Verify this for yourself. All suffering is
for someone, for a person who imagines himself or herself to be limited and separate. Thus, all suffering and doubts are really
just self-centered thinking. Self-centered thoughts are simply thoughts that revolve around the assumption of the existence of a
separate self. So the idea of a separate 'I' is the foundation upon which all self-centered thinking is based. Self-centered
thinking always presumes that the 'I' is present and real and that this is what we are.
If the 'I' cannot be found, then who has a problem, who is not good enough, who needs to attain something and so forth?
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 118
... suffering is investigated and its cause is discovered to be absent. This investigation has the result of removing the root
cause of suffering, which is the imagined sense of separation from our real source.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 119
Once you see that suffering is just a movement in thought and has no real existence, the sword is put to the root. You can never
quite experience it the same way once you see this. Again, the seeing is the key, not any action you take -- because there is no
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 135
What is the reality? What is my true nature? Are these truly separate? And this separate 'I' that we take ourselves to be,
what is it? Where is it? Can we find it?
A life of suffering presupposes that these questions are not fully clear to us. Once they are understood, the root of suffering,
doubts and questions is resolved, and these issues do not trouble us. Until then, the questioning goes on until we are satisfied
and see the truth for ourselves.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 144
Your heart, kidneys, lungs and other bodily functions have been ceaselessly functioning from birth. They have not been troubled by
a sense of responsibility for their much-needed work. The trouble comes with the sense of being an 'I' who feels itself to be
present and responsible. It is all happening to 'me', or 'I' am doing it. That is the kicker and the real source of trouble.
You will find that everything comes back to the problematic sense of self at the center.
It all gets down to a change in perspective, not any particular change in what is happening. I assure you that choices, actions
and all else can and will go on. But the suffering does not need to!
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 145
When we are unclear on our basic identity and are living under the sway of the feeling of being an independent and isolated self,
we are plagued with a fundamental sense of doubt, insecurity and fear. This leads to all manner of questions, seeking, searching,
grasping at imagined sources of happiness and so on. At a mental level this manifests as agitated, distressing thoughts and
emotions. Rather than getting to the core and resolving the basic source of the problem, many of us attempt to fix the problem by
searching for security, certainty and happiness in the world, through the body or through the mind. But the answer is never really
fully achieved because we are overlooking the basic root cause of the problem.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 152
Another place where we often look is in an imagined future where 'everything will be all right' and all our problems will be
solved. For many of us this imagined future is fraught with incertitude and generates all manner of worry and concern. This is
because we are pinning our hopes on finding security and happiness there. However, we are intelligent enough to realize that things
may or may not pan out as we desire. But again, we are barking up the wrong tree. There is no particular resolution to the search
for happiness in the future, anymore than there is in the past or present. All those directions are still looking away from the
source of the problem. In fact, if all your energy is going into thinking about the past and future, there is precious little
energy available for the inquiry that will lead to a real solution. That is why, from a spiritual perspective, the concept of
looking for an answer in the future is a trap. On strictly present evidence, the future only exists as an idea not a present
reality. It is hard to conceive that one could locate what is ultimately real in an imaginary idea. The present itself is also an
idea, which only has meaning in relation to a past and future. The fact of being or pure awareness is not in the past or future
-- nor even in the present. These all appear within awareness itself, which is outside of or beyond time. This is where the real
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 153
With no identifiable separate self in the picture, there is no one present who has a problem, no one who needs to get anywhere,
no one who is lacking, deficient or apart. The discovery of the lack of any substantial person or being effectively annihilates
all problems, doubts, questions, seeking and suffering.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 155
The whole basis of suffering is the mind creating erroneous concepts and beliefs that we then take to be real. Whatever the mind
says about you are just some unexamined, erroneous beliefs that were picked up during the years of not knowing any better. None of
them are true! They have no real significance in relation to you. And there is not anything that needs to be done. See a thought as
a thought and let it be. It will come as it went. When you see thoughts as thoughts and put no particular value or weight on them,
they leave. It is like a rude salesman knocking at your door. Ignore him and he leaves.
There is being ... and thoughts. Put your attention on the fact of your being and turn away from self-centered thoughts as being
irrelevant. Pull the attention away from them and they wither like autumn leaves. Our interest to the point of excessive focus,
is what gives thems all the juice. Do not be concerned about a pile of dead, lifeless leaves. As they blow in, they will blow out.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 158
... Anything that can arise in the future is not worth waiting for. ... Leave all these thoughts and concepts alone and rest in
and as being, which is a natural and uncomplicated presence that is bright with peace and love. Thoughts do not touch this at all.
So do not fight thoughts. Only see them for what they are. If you can turn away from them, do so. If not, then thoroughly
question them. You are not a thought. Thoughts do not touch you.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 159
Step one is to see that all suffering, problems, doubts and questions arise in thought and nowhere else. There is nothing
inherently wrong 'out there' nor in the body or mind themselves. Suffering is a creation in thinking. See if that is clear.
Then we can go on to the next step.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 162
Self-centered thoughts are what suffering is -- nothing else. ... The very sense of being ... that is easily and doubtlessly
present is what you are.
... whenever self-centered thoughts appear, there is the arising of apparant suffering. Suffering means any type of worry,
anxiety, fear, doubt, question, problem, seeking and so on. Be clear -- I am not talking about physical pain or ordinary
bodily reactions. Nor am I talking about natural and spontaneous feelings and emotions coming through.
... it is still worthwhile to thoroughly understand the origin and mechanism of suffering. Self-centered thoughts have been
acquired over the course of living. They live and survive in thought. Without thought they are not existent.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 163
... self-centered thoughts are rooted in the assumption or belief that there is a substantially existing thing called a self.
This is otherwise called an ego, a person, an entity or ... a sense of 'me'. Not only is this self assumed to be real or
present, but even more importantly in terms of experience of suffering, we believe that this is what we are. In other words,
all suffering depends on the belief in a substantial, existing self. All of the self-centered thoughts are really just attributes
or definitions of this entity. ... The arising of this belief in a separate self and our identity with that is the origin of
suffering, doubt and the general sense of confusion about ourselves.
... seeing that the whole network of suffering is based on the belief in the presence of a separate self and our assumed
identity with that, the solution is going to be to look to see if we can discover any such thing that is, in fact, a separate
self. ... if this self-center exists and is real, I should be able to find it. Have a look into your thoughts, feelings,
perceptions and anywhere else in your experience and see if you can find something that you can grasp hold of and say
"This is me". See if you can find this self-center, which we have seen to be the root of all our suffering.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 164
The most important fact to glean from this is that when you investigate the cause of suffering, you discover that it does not
exist. Therefore, suffering is an appearance in the mind based on a false assumption. It survives as long as the cause
(the separate self) is assumed or imagined to be real. If the cause is questioned and found to be non-existent, then can the
effect remain? For example, when you imagine a thief in the house, there may arise fear and various plans to deal with the
situation. But when you investigate and see that there is no thief can those fears and thoughts remain? To see for yourself --
not as a theory, but as a result of direct looking -- that there is no separate self pulls the root out of the whole network
of self-centered thinking or suffering. What remains is the clear, doubtless presence of awareness, which is your natural state.
With this recognition arises an innate sense of happiness, clarity and freedom which you cannot lose, since it is your own
presence. In the absence of any self-centered thoughts, the direct understanding of who you are remains clear, unwavering
and free of doubt.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 165
But don't you want to help me in my suffering?
I can't help you. I can't take you anywhere, because there is nowhere you need to go. I can only
suggest that you begin to open to the idea that there is no one suffering.
-- Tony Parsons in As It Is - The Open Secret of Spiritual Awakening, pg 120
All the relavite issues come into balance as the basic understanding of who you are sinks in
[or who you are not sinks in - Brian Drisko].
In fact, there is not much attention that goes into them except the common sense responses to any
given situation. The compulsive fixation on outcomes and things being a certain way definitely
lessens. We get into these patterns because the mind is convinced that our happiness is riding on
the outcomes of these events. It really is not, so we need to look a bit deeper to discover the
real and abiding source of fulfillment and the root cause of suffering. You can see that all the
compulsive thoughts and desires are being generated in thought in response to certain ideas and
expectations that the mind sets up.
Of course there are basic physiological and practical components at work, like the sex drive, the
need to eat, pay rent and so on. These are practical needs and are best addressed at a practical
level. The body needs to eat, craves companionship, needs a place to live and so on. Such is its
lot in life! The problem comes in with the identification that 'this is me', 'this is who I am',
'this is important to my sense of self' and so on. It is the relation of these normal experiences
to 'I' which associates impersonal events with self-centered thinking. And here arises the
problems, questions, doubts and suffering. But I stress that this is not because of events, but
rather the identification with them.
I can also guarantee that none of these issues are a problem when you have discovered your real
nature and uncovered the root cause of suffering.
-- John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 170-171
The root cause of suffering is believing that the thoughts and images about me and my story are
who I am. Believing that the image, the thoughts, the story, the feelings are what I am, more
thoughts are generated to fix the perceived problems. The effort to fix the images, thoughts and
so on creates mental, emotional and physical suffering. When it is seen that I am not the thoughts,
images and so on ... the self-centered thinking is no longer necessary to support or fix the
perceived problems of the imaginary 'me'. The absense of the belief in the imaginary 'me' and the
self-centered thinking is the relief of suffering.
-- A Questioner to John Wheeler in Shining in Plain View, pg 192-193
It's the longing that arises in manifestation; it's the longing of the apparent individual who
thinks they have lost paradise - intentionally, in a way, in order to re-gain it. That's
all it is. But the paradise isn't over there - this is it. All there is is this.
-- Tony Parsons in All There Is, pg 14
It's just what apparently happens. You can't do anything about it now, and asking 'Why?' is not
going to get you anywhere. Asking why is pointless. Just give up asking why and simply see that
all there is is this.
Can any question lead us to oneness?
No. Neither can any answer. Nothing can lead you to oneness because there already is only oneness.
You can never be led and you can never move towards oneness because it already is.
-- Tony Parsons in All There Is, pg 15
Let's be simple about it, and say that the year after you were born and living in pure being
and not knowing it, suddenly one day you met this thing you suddenly realised was your mother
calling you Philip. That moment of separation is the beginning of fear and the feeling of
alienation. From that moment onwards, you always long to find that which you knew in that first
year. We long to be children and live in the simple wonder of this as it is.
-- Tony Parsons in All There Is, pg 17
But that's a hugely powerful conditioning, to play this game of being two.
And all the people that you meet in your life are uniquely and exactly the people you need to be
with to build up and reinforce that sense of separation. But also they arise for you to discover
that separation is unreal. It's a paradox - you live in a world that separates you very
powerfully from oneness, in order to discover that there is only oneness.
-- Tony Parsons in All There Is, pg 18
But of course in clear seeing it's seen that no one is suffering.
There's no one suffering, because there is no one.
-- Tony Parsons in All There Is, pg 19
... there is nothing central. What arises is the need to satisfy a hunger drive - not to
satisfy my hunger drive. We use language in such a way that we personalise need or
suffering - 'I am suffering'. In clear seeing there is no one who is suffering and there's no one
who's hungry - but hunger arises.
-- Tony Parsons in All There Is, pg 54
The difficulty with this is this idea of localisation, because one would think that if
Tony Parsons' body is hungry and then Tony Parson's body consumes something and isn't hungry,
somehow that's something happening locally. But actually all it is is oneness, appearing as
hunger and satisfaction. And it is very difficult at first, when all this begins to happen,
because there's still such a conditioned idea of it being local. That's so powerful. We're so
into this local thing - we don't realise it isn't local at all - it is everything. Our body is
the ... body-ing, and the chair over there is the chair-ing.
-- Tony Parsons in All There Is, pg 55
... there is no here, there's no there, there just is what is. Here, there and reference points
are simply appearances, like gravity.
-- Tony Parsons in All There Is, pg 56
There is no character that is unhappy anymore -- there is simply oneness, and in oneness
unhappiness can arise. But there is no longer any identification with a person who is unhappy,
so there is no reason to try to change that. There is no question of ever needing to change
anything anymore but, of course, apparent change can arise.
Just see that there is pain arising. But not for anyone -- awakening is the dropping of the one
who owns anything. It is simply the seeing of life happening -- including pain, joy ...
anyything. What I am embraces that, without any sense that it needs to be changed.
Oneness doesn't embrace anything because oneness doesn't need to. Oneness is everything.
Oneness is all there is. And in all there is can arise a headache. But oneness doesn't then say,
'Oh, there is a headache -- I will embrace it!' Oneness is headache-ing.
-- Tony Parsons in All There Is, pg 111
And what arises is meaningless. It's not trying to get anywhere -- it's just a flower garden.
And it includes everything -- pain, suffering, frustration ... All those things are simply
arising and falling away. When they arise in clear seeing, all the worries and anxieties simply
arise and fall away. There is no one to hold on to them -- they can't lock into anyone.
-- Tony Parsons in All There Is, pg 137
The mind is so attracted to this agony of never being good enough. You are the one. You are
the divine expression. Nothing needs to change. Everything about that is totally perfect and
always has been. It is beautiful. Nothing changes except seeing that you are the one. That's all.
It's so utterly simple.
When the one that wants to give up suffering is no more, there is what is.
-- Tony Parsons in All There Is, pg 192
... once the roots of suffering have been exposed, they are forever changed.
Suffering results from maintaining the most prized of all possessions, an illusory self.
The illusionary self is the ransom that must be paid by the spiritual seeker. When the arrow of
understanding hits its mark, your illusionary self is its casualty.
-- Gary Crowley in From Here To Here, Turning Toward Enlightenment, pg 7
It is said that the most compassionate thing one can do for another is to show them that there is
no one suffering.
-- Christa French, Ed, Feb 2004 in Never Mind - A Journey into Non-duality, pg IX
When you have a dream at night, and in that dream, there is someone who is being tortured,
horribly tortured, and you wake up from the dream, are you any longer concerned about what
happened to that person who was being tortured? Of course not! That person never existed.
You know that person never existed. Why would you have concern for the fate of that person who
never existed, or for what happened to him? Nothing could happen to him.
-- Wayne Liquorman in Acceptance Of What Is - A Book About Nothing, pg 227
What Use Is This Teaching?
For me, the value --- and value is measured in very personal terms -- for me the value of hearing
this teaching was that my life became easier. This teaching became part of me, intellectually,
and phenomenally. The response -- the effect upon this body-mind mechanism -- was that my life,
my reactions to things, became easier. Acceptance of what is, in the moment, became more
frequent. The thought would arise as I reacted to something, that this reaction is part of the
functioning of Totality. This reaction could not be otherwise. This reaction is simply
happening. And that recognition cut off the horizontal involvement of the mind, of the
thinking process, which analyzes, speculates, considers and judges every thought and action.
The cutting off of that process brings one right back to the moment -- brings one right back to
here -- brings one right back to the present; and the present is where life is.
This is the contact point for experiencing one's connection with Totality, for seeing the Divine
in the ordinary. This connection is always there. There is no disconnection. There never has been
any disconnection. All is One. All is God. The experience of disconnection, the experience of
separateness, is removed here in the Eternal Present Moment.
-- Wayne Liquorman in Acceptance Of What Is - A Book About Nothing, pgs 51-52
From the point of view of the identified character in the play of life, these concepts of not
being doer and similar ones are very useful when they permeate into the play, because there is a
kind of release of this whole baggage. So even when there is this unfolding in understanding still
as the character, these concepts have a great capacity for release or relaxation within the
-- Nathan Gill in Already Awake, pg 79
This is what we refer to in the play as understanding -- the reflection of knowing. There is still
an 'I' understanding, but it often appears in the play to have a relieving effect.
-- Nathan Gill in Already Awake, pg 87
... there is no answer to the apparent problems appearing in the play. All the while there is the
assumption that your nature is this 'I', there is the attempt to deal with problems and to sort it
all out. And for every problem sorted, there will always be a further problem. It is only when
this recognition of your true nature begins to arise that real peace or ease is revealed. All the
'problems' are still there, but there is no longer identification with them.
-- Nathan Gill in Already Awake, pg 100-101
... thoughts are a natural part of the landscape and it doesn't matter if they arise or not. In
the present recognition of your true nature as wholeness, then thoughts probably continue to arise
-- including the 'I' thought -- but they are seen through. If there has been a tendency in the case
of this particular character to meditate, then that is likely to continue. If there has been a
tendency to be a footballer or a piano player or whatever, then that continues. It's simply that
there is knowing -- as your true nature -- that permeates the play, which allows -- or is
-- the ease or peace that was previously sought.
-- Nathan Gill in Already Awake, pg 144
Pain in a physical sense is a present sensation and tends to be less difficult when there isn't the
projecting of it from the point of view of the 'I' into an imagined future. In that projecting,
physical pain is accompanied by anxiety; there is a focus on thoughts that arise about its
continuity -- what we call suffering. ... Pain is a present occurence, and in present living
without extension into an expected future, it tends to be more manageable. Appropriate measures are
taken within the play of life for its relief.
... when the 'I' begins to be seen through in the unfolding of the recognition of our true nature,
then this projection of pain into the future -- which we're calling suffering here -- begins to be
-- Nathan Gill in Already Awake, pg 163-164
There is already registering and there is the content, but there is exclusive identification as the
content, and there is registering, the awareness aspect, is being overlooked. ... When there is
exclusive identification as the content, this story of the struggling character is taken to be
-- Nathan Gill in Already Awake, pg 186
... it's all on auto-pilot. Everything, including every thought that arises ... It's all on
automatic. With this seeing, the tension disappears from it all.
It takes 'me' and 'my' out of the whole equation, which -- with the story in the play -- seems
to be the root of the whole drama, of all of the suffering. 'My' suffering and 'my' seeking and
'my' life. There was never an entity in the first place -- it was only a phantom. Seeing through
that idea is the root.
-- Nathan Gill in Already Awake, pg 198
The root cause of suffering and problems in life is identifying oneself with an appearance in
consciousness, such as the body, mind, person or assumed separate self.
-- John Wheeler in The Light Behind Consciousness, pg 14
... suffering is nothing more than self-centered thinking. Suffering is a result of the belief in
the reality of the separate self. And without the cause, can you have the effects?
With the self-center out of the picture, what was left? What was I? Clearly I was still there, but
not as anything I had previously taken myself to be. I existed, but nott as some 'thing'. A better
statement would be that I was no thing, meaning nothing in particular. I was aware, yet not
confined to any particular state of consciousness. In this non-conceptual recognition, my being was
vast, empty, clear, present, aware, utterly untouched by appearances, yeet intimately connected ...
The personal suffering that had gripped my mind for years, even during the years of being a
spiritual 'person', simply could not reformulate any longer.
-- John Wheeler in The Light Behind Consciousness, pg 15-16
Quotes About Advaitism:
The Aim Of Inquiry
/ The Inadequacy Of Words
What Am I?
/ The Illusion
Some Initial Questions And Answers /
Advaitism In A Nutshell
A Skeptics Approach To Non-Duality
Latter Day Buddhism
Science & Nonduality /
Non Duality Magazine
Books, Video, Audio, Podcasts /
On Being Adopted
FAIR USE NOTICE:
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically
authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance
understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific,
spiritual, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such
copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with
Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who
have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational
purposes. For more information go to:
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond
'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.