I Don't Wanna Hide the Grief

Reflections on suffering—the greatest koan

I don’t wanna hide the grief.

I don’t wanna hide the pain and suffering.

I don’t wanna brush it under the rug.

Don’t wanna pretend I haven’t felt immense pain and heartbreak many times in this lifetime.

Don’t wanna pretend I wouldn’t fucking crack and break and double over with sobs and not know how to go on if something happened to those I love most.

David Foster Wallace

There’s this one David Foster Wallace story that flashed to mind earlier today.

If I recall correctly, in the story a small beloved child reaches up and pulls a pot of boiling water off a stove, spilling the boiling water all over himself, inflicting awful pain and maiming himself—screaming with pain as the shocked, heartbroken parents scramble to try to ‘fix’ the situation in any way possible, though the damage has already been done.

The story is heartbreaking.

It feels to me like a question DFW was posing to God:

“How can I be okay with this world when stuff like this happens all the time?”

As you may know, David Foster Wallace hung himself a few years ago.

What do we do with stuff like that—the stuff that drove a big-hearted fella like DFW to take his own life?

How can I have the audacity to speak about the ‘perfection’ of reality and God’s ‘plan’ when shit like this happens?

When rape, torture, slavery, genocide, war, and other unspeakable acts take place on this planet with disturbing regularity?

In light of this stuff, isn’t any talk of ‘perfection’ just a fat load of bullshit?

Me blowing smoke up my own ass and ‘spiritually bypassing’ the ever-living shit out of the darkness of this world?


Maybe it totally is.

I’m open to that possibility.

Am I Full of Shit?

Let’s explore it for a moment:

What’s the alternative?

Let’s say I’m totally off-base and this reality is not Infinite Loving Intelligence and every moment is not Divinely orchestrated…

Where would that leave us?

Answer: Pain, violence, and darkness are just nightmarish shitty-ness popping up randomly in our brief, tiny ape-lives in a cold, indifferent killing-machine of a universe?

Or: A benevolent God exists but he granted mankind free will and we’ve used it to generate a lot of great stuff but unfortunately we’ve also chosen to use it to generate shit-loads of pain, violence, and darkness, and that sucks for us?

Or: Life is a mixed bag. There’s plenty of beauty and good stuff, but there’s also lots of horrible stuff that happens too. You just take it as it comes, try to appreciate the good and minimize the bad, and then you die. And who knows what happens then…?

Or some combination of these?

Perhaps something here is plausible. The third option feels closest…

But… doesn’t something feel kinda ‘off’ in this set of options?

Doesn’t it feel like these views are missing something?

I don’t know, man. To me it feels like there’s gotta be more to the picture.

Suffering is the Greatest Koan

"The first step to the knowledge of the wonder and mystery of life is the recognition of the monstrous nature of the earthly human realm as well as its glory, the realization that this is just how it is and that it cannot and will not be changed... Those who think they know how the universe could have been had they created it, without pain, without sorrow, without time, without death, are unfit for illumination."

— Joseph Campbell

I think the existence of tremendous suffering, heartbreak, violence, and ‘evil’ may be the greatest koan.

The greatest riddle/paradox that the earnest seeker must grapple with on the path toward illumination.

I mean, it would be easy to see God and have faith if life was just a pure angelic rainbow-land devoid of suffering where all beings insta-manifest their latest bliss-dream in every moment forevermore, no?

And I suspect that is what life is like on certain ‘higher’ planes…

But if that was all it was…

If perma-bliss was all there was to it…

Wouldn’t that seem a little…

I don’t know…


Imagine if all the greatest novels and stories ever told…

Suddenly had all the hardship, pain, violence, evil, heartbreak, loneliness, sorrow, anger, and despair erased from them…

What would the story become?

Page after page of…

“And then we manifested this awesome thing and it was fun and epic and beautiful.”

“And then we manifested this awesome thing and it was fun and epic and beautiful.”

“And then we manifested this awesome thing and it was fun and epic and beautiful.”

It’s cool in one sense, sure, but…

See what I’m getting at?

What if every painting was of a perfect sunrise, or people dancing in celebration, or a flawless mandala channeled from light-beings?

What if every song was ‘feel-good’ music with the emotional range of ‘In The Summertime’ by Mungo Jerry?

Imagine if this was just how things were, in an infinity of dimensions, for all of eternity…

Wouldn’t that feel, almost, like, kitsch? Canned? Boring?

If your soul was actually cycling through that monotone ecology of perpetual peak-bliss-peace, wouldn’t your soul start to feel a bit like, “Damn, man, will someone create a ‘haunted house’ amusement park ride already? I’ll be the first to sign up for that shit.”

After all, what’s a great story without villainy and suspense and fear and conflict and heartbreak and redemption?

I mean, I love Tao Lin novels, yet I also wanna read some Dostoevsky sometimes.

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It’s Easy to Claim to Know Better Than God…

It’s easy to claim that you know better than Nature / Source…

Easy to claim that if you were omnipotent, you’d just snap your magic fingers, erase all suffering from existence, and everything would just be vastly more peachy…

But… what then?

1,000,000 x 1,000,000 x 1,000,000 x 1,000,000 millennia of undifferentiated happiness?

Endless epochs exploring all the ways to joyfully actualize joyful possibilities?

Non-stop peace forever and ever and ever and ever, ad infinitum?

Such statements sound almost like advertisements on GodTube…


Eternity is a damn long (timeless) time.

Let’s say you’re God, the All-Mind, abiding in/as Infinite Peace for numberless aeons…

At a certain point, don’t you imagine you might wanna mix it up?

Might wanna, like, explore your infinite possibilities a little bit?

Might wanna, like, oh, I don’t know…

Create within yourself a legendary, many-dimensional, hyper-Shakespearean space-opera in which infinite souls undertake harrowing, gorgeous-terrible journeys to learn and explore and adventure and play…?

In which these souls encounter triumph and defeat and ecstasy and despair and obsession and heartbreak and peace and terror and bliss and torture and happiness and confusion and clarity, living out utterly rich and epic stories along their many-lifetime quests…?

In which these souls are eventually destined to liberate themselves and to realize that all along they were actually nothing other than You/God—indestructible, inviolate, forever undisturbed—simply choosing to pretend and forget yourself in infinite storylines so you could play and explore your infinite possibilities through infinite sets of eyes simultaneously?

What say you?

Wouldn’t that be, like, leaps and bounds more interesting than just abiding in/as Infinite Peace for all eternity?

Especially when in truth you would always be abiding in Infinite Peace anyway, while simultaneously generating this game/dance/art-work that allows you to seemingly forget the Infinite Peace in order to explore infinite varieties of novel experience?

Especially when in truth the game/dance/art-work is entirely made of Infinite Peace beyond all conception or description, and nothing in the game/dance/art-work can ever, in its essence, truly be harmed?

I’d say so.

I’d sign up for that.

To me that sounds just about…

Dare I say…



Back to Grief

But let’s go back to where we started.

I don’t wanna hide the grief.

I don’t wanna hide the pain.

It’s fucking there.

It’s fucking real.

And it fucking hurts.

Dammit, it can fucking hurt.

And I know that the suffering and heartbreak I’ve experienced and can remember in this lifetime yet pales in comparison to the agony of many souls presently exploring this realm…

I don’t ever want to minimize that.

I don’t ever want to sweep that under the rug and pretend it’s all an illusion.

I don’t ever want to forfeit my right to be human and to hurt and to grieve and to sob and convulse and not know how I’m going to take another step.

And yet…


Dare I ask…

What if it’s still all perfect?

What if the pain is the gift that cracks us open and calls us beyond ourselves?

What if “the wound is the place where the light enters”?

What if sometimes the wound isn’t the place where the light enters and we just become resentful and bitter and violent and we die that way, and what if that too is still perfect in its imperfection?

What if it’s all God exploring God?

What if the ‘God exploring God’ notion is just a beautiful story/metaphor/mythology that can’t ultimately capture what it is, and what if all the words in the world could never actually come close to saying what it is, and yet still it’s perfect?

What if…

I love you.

A Simple Fella Who Loves God,

P.S. Paid subscribers: Keep scrolling and below you’ll find three unreleased videos I created for a course of mine some time ago: ‘Self Love Meditation for Trauma Healing and Shadow Integration,’ ‘The Letting Go Technique to Release Burdens,’ and ‘The Essential Skill of Purging and Healing Trauma, Wounds, and Blockages.’ All three of these provide you with more pragmatic techniques/understandings for releasing/dissolving suffering. Thank you for your support; it means a lot to me. <3

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Jordan Bates is a wizard, wisdom synthesizer, writer, trickster, rapper, artist, lover of Tao, and founder of Ouroboros. Find him on social media and view his latest books/albums/offerings here.

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