Letters To Tom — Struggle

Dear Tom,

Over the past few days I’ve been reading about the Sufi’s view about the Struggle of Life. Maybe you can give me some guidance. I like the concept that there are three distinct types of struggles – the struggle with our self, our struggle with each other, and our struggle with circumstances. I also understand there are different ways to cope with each struggle. What I need help with is the Sufi view that life’s struggle is unavoidable. I know this seems like a strange question from someone who has had his share of struggles and continues struggling. I guess what I’m asking comes from the Sufi view that the more we pay attention to our struggle, the more our view expands and the less we make of it the better. That seems like advice to ignore or not to pay attention to life’s struggles.

I prefer the concept that when we observe others struggle, and we engage in the struggle of others by consoling them, strengthening them, and giving others a hand our own struggles dissolve. Perhaps this is what the Sufi masters are trying to teach us. It is something that Mother Teresa, Dorthea Dix, and many others came to realize. That our struggle is only a small part of the human struggle, and that in participating and helping those who can’t help themselves, our struggle is solved.

I’m working on this my friend. Webb.

About the author

Webb Hubbell is the former Associate Attorney General of The United States. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, A Game of Inches, The Eighteenth Green, and The East End are published by Beaufort Books and are available online or at your local bookstore. When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps and The Eighteenth Green won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller. His latest, “Light of Day” will be on the bookstands soon.

1 Comment +

  1. Dear Webb,

    Your writing on struggle reflects very well the sayings of Hazrat Inayat Kahn, the great Sufi mystic that brought sufism to the West. His perspective on struggle is paradoxical isn’t it? For me, the suggestion to lay one’s struggles aside reflects two perspectives. First, one should expect struggles as an integral part of life, and they provide perspective for gratitude. For example, without dark, how do we perceive light? Without sadness, how do we appreciate joy? If struggles are integral to life, then transcending them gives context to success and opens the path to gratitude.

    Secondly, one can become too engaged in their own struggle, and the ego can take over with the endless messages or “why me?” or “this isn’t fair.” The Sufi would say that struggles are intended to challenge you, to stimulate growth, NOT to create a victim perspective. Our teachers frequently say that God never gives us a challenge we aren’t capable of meeting.

    which leads to a final point, which you already made. No matter how big our challenges appear to us in the moment, there are those who face much larger struggles. Being in service to others from that place not only dissolves our struggles, not only helps the other who is struggling, but also contributes to those around us who witness the struggles of others, lightening the load of many.

    Your friend

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