Part of iKE ALLEN’S “InnerViews Series”
iKE: Peter, your blending of scientific and spiritual principles is what lead me to featuring you in Leap! A Quantum Awakening and The Tao of Quantum Physics. In life, people tend to suffer. Do you have any ideas on how people can reduce or even end their experience of suffering?
Peter: I think a large amount of our suffering is our own creation which comes from the fact that we interpret something in a way that makes us feel bad. i don’t mean to say that pain is that, I draw a distinction between pain and suffering. For example if I hurt my finger I may feel pain. Whether or not I suffer is a question of how I interpret it. Another simple example often used is when we’re stuck in a traffic jam, we may suffer, we may feel a lot of stress. Someone else could be sitting in the same traffic jam saying this is the least stressful part of driving.
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You have exactly the same situation, one person suffering, another person not suffering. It’s nothing to do with the situation, it’s to do with the way we interpret it. So I think a lot of our suffering is to do with the way we interpret it. A lot of our suffering comes from the fact that we create our own interpretation of things. We start interpreting what is going on, this is bad for me, I’ not going to be happy in the future. So we create suffering. A lot of this comes out of feeling some sort of lack, that we’re missing something. I think this is what Buddha said so clearly 2.5 thousand years ago. That the mind in its natural state feels at ease. This is what many, not just the Buddha, most spiritual teachers have seen. When the mind settles down and comes to a state of quiet and ease, it feels peaceful. And then what happens is we start telling ourselves things aren’t right, I’m missing this I need that if only I had more money a better job, a better partner, lived somewhere different, some new clothes I’d be happy.
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So we tell ourselves we can’t be happy until we get something. And this is the root in principle of a lot of suffering, telling ourselves, things aren’t the way I want them to be or I don’t want this person around, I don’t like this. So a lot of that suffering, we are creating that suffering for ourselves in our mind because of the way we interpret what is going on. This is the root of most suffering. So for me the solution therefore is to look @ things in a different way, find a different way of perceiving the situation. If I’m in a difficult situation with a person and I’m getting really frustrated because they’re not seeing things the way I want or arguing or doing something I don’t like, I can either get upset about it and get into a combative situation, arguing, suffering, or another way of seeing the situation is here is a person who’s also struggling in the world, they have their own background, their own past experiences, their own needs, their own sense of lack. And then what comes up is a sense of compassion. I’m not suffering, I can feel a sense of compassion. It’s the same situation but seen in a different way leads to a very different reaction. So I think that’s the root of most suffering is the fact that we interpret the world in ways that cause us discomfort or dissatisfaction and that’s because of the voice in the head that’s continually chatting away, what that’s telling us.