Tag Archives: suffering

Traffic light reasoning 紅綠燈思考法

Part 1 – This article
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Dear friends,

Just yesterday one of my students rectification asked me one of the classical questions of spirituality. In this article I would like to share our dialogue about that question with you. The question usually goes something like this:

If we do not judge or condemn and instead accept life as it is, how then do we progress?


Me: You just used the word progress. Could you tell me what progress means to you?
Her: Progress to me means feeling happier.

Me: What I understand from what you say is that it is your opinion that it is good to feel happy and that it is bad to feel unhappy. That is not my opinion.
Her: Because life is a process and not a finished product?

Me: That is indeed a statement I have made, but I would like to make the meaning of this statement more clear to you.
You: OK.

Me: When we believe that feeling negative feelings is bad, we do not understand that life is actually communicating with us through our feelings.

If I would compare feelings to a traffic light, your statement would be equal to saying that it is good when the traffic light is green and bad when it is red. If it would really be the case that a green traffic light is good, it would be best if all traffic lights are green at all times. But I think it is easy to imagine that that situation would lead to chaos.

The truth is that neither the green nor the red light are good or bad. They are just signals used to communicate with us. When the traffic light is green it indicates to us that it is safe for us to continue our journey. When it is red it indicates to us that it is unsafe for us to continue. On the other hand, if we ignore the signals we are likely to create unpleasant situations for ourselves. Neither braking at a green light nor passing through a red light is safe.

It is much like this with our feelings. Positive feelings are an indication that we are ‘on the right path’, negative feelings indicate that we are not. Therefore negative feelings are not bad, they are our guides that help us to become aware of a situation, both within and without, that requires change.

The point is to accept everything, but that does not mean you should not change anything.


One thing that I would like to clarify further is the difference between pain and suffering. According to me pain is pain, while suffering is pain upon pain. If you ask me, pain is unavoidable but suffering is only due to our misunderstanding of a situation.

Pain upon pain means experiencing more negative feelings because we are experiencing negative feelings. If you would like a concrete example of this, I have talked about how I created pain upon pain for myself in one of my previous articles: Two wings to fly.

Part 1 – 本文
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

親愛的朋友:

昨天我的一位學生修正提出一個修行上很經典的問題。我希望透過這篇文章和大家分享這段對話。這個問題通常是這樣的:

如果我們不去加以論斷或譴責,只是接受人生的樣貌,我們要如何進步呢?


:你提到「進步」這個詞,可不可以告訴我,對你而言,進步的意義為何?
:對我而言,進步指的是感到更加快樂。
:從你的話中,我所理解的是,你認為感到快樂是好的,而感到不快樂是對的。但我並不這麼認為。
:因為人生是段過程而不是一件成品?
:我的意思的確是如此,但我想再把我的說法解釋得更清楚些。
:好

: 當我們相信負面情緒是不好的,我們並未理解,人生更透過我們的情緒,與我們溝通。

如果把情緒和紅綠燈做比較,你的說法可以等同於綠燈時是好的,紅燈是不好的。如果綠燈真的是好的,那麼最好隨時都是綠燈,但我們很容易想見,這樣一來會導致混亂。

事實上,不管紅燈或綠燈,都沒有好壞。它們只是被用來和我們溝通的訊號。當綠燈亮起時,那表示我們可以安全地繼續旅程,當紅燈亮起時,那表示繼續行走是不安全的。另一方面,如果我們忽略這些訊息,我們可能給自己造成不愉快的情況,就像在綠燈時煞車或者在闖紅燈都是不安全的。

我們的情緒和紅綠燈很相似。正面情緒表示我們「走在正確的路上」,而負面情緒則非如此。因此,負面情緒並非不好,它們指引我們,幫助我們意識到那些需要改變的內在或外在狀況。

重點在於接受一切,但那並不表示你不應該做任何改變。


我還想再進一步解釋一點,那就是疼痛和苦痛的區別。就我而言,疼痛僅是疼痛,而苦痛則是痛上加痛。我認為,疼痛是無可避免的,但苦痛卻是因為我們誤解自身所處狀況而引起。

痛上加痛的意思是,因為體驗負面感受,而經歷更多的負面情緒。如果你想知道更具體的例子,我在之前的一篇文章〈雙翅飛翔〉中,提到我如何給自己帶來痛上加痛的故事。

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