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The Key Cause of Suffering

b-air better life course in miracles suffering May 19, 2020
The Key Cause of Suffering  suffering acim

(By Eldad Ben-Moshe)

❤ Hey there Better Lifers!  


We all want a happier, better life.
Yet we often find that Buddha had a point (to say the least) when he said that life is full of suffering 😉.

He did, however, also say why we suffer - as do other traditions.
But not too many people seem to notice those teachings about why we suffer.

Our ego-mind doesn’t want to hear about it -
for deep psychological and spiritual reasons
that will take too long to explain in this post.

So here’s a shortcut for you -
a short yet priceless overview of why we suffer according to 4 different paths.
The last one, as you’ll see, shows how they all combine into one answer.

Ok then, are you ready?
Let’s do this.

4 paths, 1 question, and a great journey into the root cause of suffering.
Here are their answers:

✨Path #1: The key to suffering according to A Course In Miracles

A Course in Miracles dives into both the psychological & the spiritual reasons for our suffering.

It’s part of why I love it so much and of why it is so transformational, 
changing so many people’s lives:

It offers that winning combination of psychology and spirituality,
which is the best way to create a holistic, long-lasting change.

ACIM (an acronym for A Course in Miracles) suggests that we suffer because we believe our ego’s stories, and mainly the story that we separated from God/Love.

So spiritually speaking,
the reason you suffer is the belief in the story that you are separate from Love, from God, from your source.

Psychologically speaking,
while the separation never happened, the belief that it did leads to a chain reaction that entails a belief in sin and guilt, resulting in a perpetual cycle of fear and attack.

This chain reaction is demonstrated and perpetuated by believing any of your ego’s stories, such as “I hate her”, “he did this to me”, and so one.

These are stories that will entail anger, hatred, grievances, blame, and many other forms of fear and attack.

While the forms change, the essence of these stories stay:

1. They all perpetuate fear and attack, and push away Love.

2. They are all untrue (at least from the spiritual perspective of absolute truth, as opposed to our human perspective of relative truth.)

3. They all say 'I am right.'


“Do you prefer that you be right or happy? “

-A Course in Miracles, Text-29.VII


This, again, goes to both the spiritual aspect (“I am right” meaning that the separation did happen) and psychologically (I’m right, and you’re wrong).

And this leads us straight into the hands of path #2 - the Torah (the Old Testament)

✨Path #2: The key to suffering according to the Torah (the Old Testament)


But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

- Genesis 2:17


“I am right” and “I know what’s good and what isn’t” are twins.
I know, and if you think differently than I do, then you are wrong because I’m right.

With such a mindset, can you be happy (besides perhaps a few seconds of fake, ego happiness)?
Can you really experience peace? Love? A joy that does not depends on external events?

The biblical story is at least partly symbolic.
Even if you don’t believe it happened, you can see the message the story brings:

The belief that I surely know, my judgment of good and evil, right and wrong, leads to the belief that anyone who thinks differently is wrong.

This leads to arguments, fights, separation, hatred, animosity - many forms of suffering.

That is what the bible meant when it said: “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Adam and Eve didn’t die from eating the apple.
But they did die symbolically - spiritually.
That is what the outcasting from the Garden of Eden, or from Heaven, symbolizes.

Believing our judgments and stories, being sure that we know, leads away from the Garden of Eden, away from Heaven (both used here as a metaphor for happiness).

It is the key to suffering.

So both A Course in Miracles and the Torah tell us that believing our stories create our suffering.

But even though
ACIM is very non-religious, it uses Judeo-Christian symbols to deliver its message - so one might argue that they are somewhat related.

So let’s check out what a completely different tradition from a completely different part of the world says about our suffering.

Let’s see what did Buddha had to say about it all.

✨ Path #3 - The key to suffering according to the Buddha and Buddhism


The fundamental pillar of Buddhism is Buddha’s Four Noble Truths.
The first two noble truths are, in simple terms:

  1. Dukkha (suffering) is part of life.
  2. Dukkha (suffering) arises from our attachment, from our clinging and attaching mind.

So essentially, this is Buddha’s famous teaching about the root cause of our suffering (the ‘Second Noble Truth’):

You suffer because you cling to your idea of how you want things to be.
In other words - you suffer because you want things to be different than they are.

Consciously and unconsciously, we seek pleasure and avoid pain.

While it’s completely fine and natural to have these preferences (we all do),
it is the attachment (clinging) to our preferences that causes suffering.

To put it in other words, it is the attachment to our desire for pleasure and our aversion to pain that causes our suffering.

Attachment and aversion are of the same nature as they are both a form of resistance,
as in both cases, I want things to happen in a certain way - I want a certain result.

If I wanted to get the job, but it was given to someone else, and I continue clinging to my desire for the job and my belief that I deserved it, I add resistance to the pain of not getting what I wanted. 

My attachment to getting what I wanted (attachment to my desire to get the job) created resistance to what happened (the job was given to someone else.)

Since our aversions and desires are based on what we believe will bring us pain or pleasure, the bottom line is that our resistance (and thus our suffering) is a result of our beliefs, and our attachment to those beliefs.

Those beliefs are our stories - stories of good and bad, right and wrong, and stories of what will make me happy and what will bring me pain.

They all are nothing but stories, and they have power only as long as we believe they are the truth.

And that is precisely what A Course in Miracles and the Torah are saying as well -

believing our stories - and clinging to them, attaching to them, not letting them go, not doubting them - creates our suffering.

Which takes us to the 4th and final path we will examine:
The B-AIR(™) system.

✨Path #4 - The key to suffering according to
the B-AIR(™) system.


B-AIR is the acronym of the 4 simple steps this system is offering to relieve your painful emotions, overcome your destructive beliefs, and stop creating unnecessary suffering in your life.

The 4 steps are: Breath, Acknowledge, Investigate, and Respond.

After acknowledging our suffering and pain in the 2nd step, In the 3rd step we investigate to see why we are suffering in the specific situation we’re experiencing.

Using B-AIR’s simple yet super effective investigation method, we will
dive into the causes of our suffering, and the way our mind works.

Let’s see that in action with an example.
We will use loneliness, but any painful 
emotion will work the same:

Why am I feeling lonely?

I am feeling lonely because my husband is working all the time and doesn’t spend any time with me, my kids are teenagers who don’t want to hang out with their parents, and my friends never call me.

2. What would have made me happy rather than lonely?

I would be happy if my husband and kids would spend more time with me, tell me they love me more often, appreciate all the things I do for us, and if my friends would call me.

3. Why would that make me happy rather than lonely?

Because I love being loved, seen, included and appreciated by my husband, children, and friends and I love spending time with them and receiving their attention.


The answer to the 1st question tells us what is happening.
In the 2nd question, we see what we want.

The gap between the two, between what is happening and what we want,
is the reason we feel unhappy.

If what is happening would have matched what I want, I would be happy (that is, until the next thing happens that is at odds with what I want…).

We can use this understanding to learn about the nature of our suffering and how to overcome it,
which we do in step 4 of the B-AIR process.

When I see that what would have made me happy is a particular thing (e.g., that 
my wife would admit that she is wrong and that she is lying), I understand that in my mind, things need to happen a certain way for me to be happy. 

My wife needs to do this or be that, otherwise, I will be angry. 
My husband needs to do this or be that, otherwise I will be lonely.

In other words - I am _________ (angry, lonely, etc.) because things didn’t happen the way I wanted them to.

I didn’t get what I wanted.
That’s all there is to it, really.


“I want things to be different, therefore I am unhappy.”

- Eldad Ben-Moshe, 
The Ultimate Guide to B-AIR(™) 


It is not because of what happened.

If I had wanted my wife to come back late from work, I would not have been upset that she did - I would’ve been happy about it!

What made me angry is that she didn’t behave how I wanted her to, that things didn’t happen the way I wanted them to.


When you are angry, is it not because someone has failed to fill the function you allotted him?
And does not this become the “reason” your attack is justified? “

- A Course in Miracles, Text-29.IV


If that rings a bell, it’s for a good reason.

Who else do we know that gets unhappy and upset when they don’t get what they want?
Small children.

We are still playing that same game, just in a grown-up body.

This is one of the reasons inner work such as the B-AIR process is often time referred to as ‘growth’ - while our body certainly grows as we get older, psychologically we are still small children in many ways.

Real growth takes work and awareness (and conscious decisions), which is why we refer to it many times as ‘inner work.’

The person I wanted to win the elections lost. My team lost. My dog died.
The food burned. The world is going to end. I am going to die.

Every time you are unhappy,
it is because something didn’t happen the way you wanted it to.

There is but one ’exception’, and that is fear, which is the result of the thought that things will not happen the way I want them to.

Exactly the same idea, but future-oriented instead of past-oriented. Therefore, even that is not really an exception.

Instead of I am _________because things didn’t happen the way I wanted,
it is I am ________ (worried, afraid, anxious) that things will not happen the way I want them to and I will not get what I want (e.g. he will not like me, my team will lose, I will die, I will fail, she will not say ‘yes.’)


And this is what A Course in Miracles, the Torah and Buddha were telling us all along:

We think that we know what is good and what’s bad, what will make us happy and what will make us sad, what’s right for us (and others…), and what’s to be avoided.

Yet it is that belief that we know all that, and our attachment to it, that is creating our suffering.

It is the reason that every time things don’t happen the way we want, every time someone doesn’t act the way you want - you will suffer. 

If I’m sure that what you did was a mistake that will cause me pain, then I’ll be upset, afraid, anxious, etc. - many forms of fear and attack, all of which are the opposite of being peaceful, loving and happy.

That is the root cause of your suffering, my friend.

Now, of course, some things seem more important to us than others - and therefore, in those situations, we attach to our belief more strongly and as a result - we suffer more.

But as ACIM is telling us,

“There are no small upsets. They are all equally disturbing to my peace of mind.”

- A Course in Miracles, Workbook, Lesson 5




Pain vs. Suffering

Having said all that, some of you might be thinking that the above is suggesting unhealthy and unhelpful suppression (consciously restraining or controlling what we think or feel) or repression (an unconscious forgetting, denying or ignoring of emotions, motivations, memories, etc.).

Nothing can be further from the truth.

This is why we cannot have this discussion without mentioning the difference between pain and suffering.  


If my dog dies, it is painful.
If my husband ignores me, my wife is lying to me, or I don’t have any money -
all of these can be very painful experiences.

I do not suggest or recommend denying, ignoring, or sugar-coating it.

In fact, in step 2 we did just the opposite -
we acknowledged our painful emotions that have resulted from what has happened.


“But our suffering and happiness depend not on what happens.
They depend on how we deal with what happens.

There is a teaching that says Pain + resistance = Suffering.
I call it ‘the secret formula of suffering.’ ”

- Eldad Ben-Moshe, The Ultimate Guide to B-AIR(™).


‘My dog should not have died,’ and ‘he should have done the dishes’ are both thoughts that we believe.

If we did not believe that thought, it would pass by without creating any resistance or suffering, even though the pain would probably still be there.

Therefore we can see that
our resistance (and thus our suffering) comes from our beliefs, fears, and desires.

When our beliefs, fears, and desires are at odds with what is happening, we suffer -
because we are not wholeheartedly accepting what has happened. 

Instead, we are adding resistance to the pain (‘you should have done the dishes!’),
which adds unnecessary suffering to the original, inevitable pain.

If I wanted to get the job, but it was given to someone else, and I continue clinging to my desire for the job and my belief that I deserved it, I add resistance to the pain of not getting what I wanted.

My attachment to getting what I wanted (attachment to my desire to get the job) created resistance to what happened (the job was given to someone else.), which added unnecessary additional suffering to the original pain.

And Pain+Resistance=Suffering.

Since our aversions and desires are based on what we believe will bring us pain or pleasure,
the bottom line is that our resistance (and thus our suffering) is a result of our beliefs,
and our attachment to those beliefs.

For example, if I believe that if candidate B wins the elections life will be much better, her victory will bring me pleasure, and her loss will bring me suffering.

The intensity of that happiness and unhappiness depends on how much I am invested in the belief that life will be better if candidate B wins.


“The difference between pain and suffering is this:
Pain is an inevitable part of life, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Suffering is optional, unnecessary, and is entirely within our control -
It is an inside job, we create it ourselves.
Therefore, we can also stop it ourselves. 

We do not depend on anyone or anything other than ourselves for that.
God doesn’t need to do anything;
people don’t need to change;
the Messiah doesn’t need to come.

We are the only ones that create our suffering -
and we are the only ones that can stop it.

No one ever took away your peace of mind.
It was always you who did it.”

- Eldad Ben-Moshe, The Ultimate Guide to B-AIR(™) 

Practical Actionable Steps - From Information to Transformation:

Download your free copy of the B-AIR(™) guide to learn and practice the 4 simple steps to relieve painful emotions, overcome destructive beliefs, and stop creating unnecessary suffering in your life in a mindful, healthy way.

The process we offer at the Better Life Awareness Center is simple and powerful:

Learn -> Practice -> Experience -> Transform™.



Final note: You can do this! 


Choose the thing(s) that inspire you the most. 

Don’t over-do it; keep it simple and joyful.

Take one baby step at a time.

Remember -

  • Implement.
  • Baby steps.
  • Joyfully.

 Done is better than perfect.

To your better life,
with tons of 💖

Eldad Ben-Moshe
Founder, Teacher, and Coach
Better Life Awareness Center



Life is a journey of learning together, learning from each other.
You don’t have to do it alone.

Share your thoughts and questions with me by leaving your comments on this page or by sending me a message via our chat icon or our contact us form. 

I love hearing what you think and answering your questions.