Joanna Rogers Macy is an environmental activist, author, and scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. In this short video she advises that pain alerts us to what needs attention. Pain is not the enemy of cheerfulness, but tells us there is suffering. When we face suffering, our hearts and eyes open to beauty. We are not alone in our despair and when we have the courage to speak of it, it cracks open so the love can be found. The key is not being afraid of the pain, not being afraid of the world’s suffering. If you aren’t afraid, nothing can stop you.


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  • Barbara Alaimo

    Pain like grief needs to be embraced so that we can move through it. It is not to be feared or avoided because only in fully recognizing how we feel, can we continue to move forward. We have a oneness in nature that helps us to appreciate its beauty and its cycles including its deaths.

  • Laurena

    Down to earth! Real! I need to affirm...pain is not the enemy of cheerfulness. Pain is not the enemy of cheerfulness. Pain....

  • Lisa Rogers

    Such well spoken wisdom. Thank you.

  • Stell Seeley

    Oh, such a kindred Spirit, thank you for helping me understand. Love, stell

  • david doane

    I certainly agree with and liked Joanna's emphasizing that pain is part of life and pain is a signal that something is causing the pain and calls for our attention. It is sad that we have created so much unnecessary pain for ourselves and our planet. Our challenge is to live and suffer pain in a way that does not create unnecessary pain.

  • Amelia

    I love her walk through nature. The video has a beautiful setting. I think it is important to see suffering as an alert to what might be wrong and to draw our attention to it. I, too, felt physical suffering when the leaf was picked. I am glad to find a community of people who share the "love of the leaf," as Cedrus stated so eloquently.

  • Patrick

    To hold great love and great suffering is to experience our humanity in its utter fullness. }:- ❤️ anonemoose monk

  • Kit

    "Despair is our covering of our love for the world"

  • Wayne

    The arrogance of perception and the perception of arrogance...

  • Mark Stowe

    We get old to soon....and wise to late. Some learn from laughter and joy...most learn from pain and suffering. As Nature gets distant for so many of us, as technology and politics occupy more of our time we finally begin to understand. Just look at the issues our children are now fighting for, gun control, climate change, I fear if we do not listen to our children, and take money out of politics this will be the end of then again I suppose this is as well but the nature of things. All things borne come to an end...I just wish we could go out with a little more class...and love in our hearts.

  • John

    The power of this message emerges in Joanna's childlike awe and feel for Nature, juxtaposed with her crude extraction of the glittering leaf from its nest, significantly presented as sub-text, while metaphorically evincing the enigmatic quality of our evolving existence.

  • Cedrus

    I agree with everything she says. Everything. And then the action following the words: the leaf is picked into an ego-driven (her desire to have the leaf for her own) death. Why not just let it be? Let it continue to have its own life and continue to share its magnificence for its unknown and God-given time on earth. This was the suffering for me...that came from the love of the leaf. It struck me to the core. More than anything else she said.

  • Julie Besaha

    It took me a minute to digest this, but I'm wondering if the point here is when we speak of our despair and sit with it in community, when we dig into it beyond our own self-focus (i.e. our individual suffering), we expose it to the light. When it's exposed to the light, we are given the opportunity to see that the reason WHY we suffer is because of the LOVE that we feel. So, for example, I suffer with despair at the state of economic disparity in the United States. When I speak about it with like-minded people, I can see that the reason why I/we suffer with despair over this is because of the deep love we have for those most impacted by economic injustice. And connecting with the deep love of others is the antidote to the inertia that comes from the despair that is rooted in the suffering of those we love. If I truly love another and they suffer and I do nothing, I contribute to the suffering. But if I commit to do SOMETHING, I not only combat my despair but my actions can perhaps start to chip away at that which causes the suffering in the first place. Now, I'm no longer stuck in my despair and instead can experience the beauty of being part of the solution! ...and I could be totally off. :) PS: Lindsay, I had the same reaction to picking the leaf. :(

  • Tom Martinez

    Such deep and beautiful wisdom from Joanna Macy. Have gotten so much from her book(s) Active Hope and her memoir, Widening Circles....

  • jindra cekan

    All is transient, the beauty, the pain... a beautiful reminder of impermanence

  • Debora

    What inspired me about Joanna is her makes me want to be more attentive in my daily life. I also appreciate her non-judgmental approach. It is an interesting way to think about our part in holding our environment sacred.

  • Lindsay Southcombe

    Sorry but I fail to see how this helps the suffering of our environment and other species. It is all a bit navel gazing for my taste. And why pick the beautiful leaf - now it dies!!

  • Carla

    I agree with Hilda. I am hearing challenged and need captions to really understand what is being said. I am grateful for these messages.

  • Hilda

    It would have been helpful to have had the video captioned for the benefit of deaf and hard of hearing. Thank you.

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  • You can find out more about Joanna Macy and her work at the Great Transition Initiative.
  • Become involved with Work That Reconnects Network—a community of facilitators and supporters linked together for communication, collaboration and mutual support to take positive action.
  • Take 7 minutes for this guided meditation on ending suffering with Thich Nhat Hanh.

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