Home Wisdom Articles Pujya Gurudevshri Pujya Gurudevshri Insights Suffering is Optional

Suffering is Optional

In distress, people try various ways to alleviate their suffering. These means become helpful in reducing or forgetting their pain but only temporarily. Pujya Gurudevshri guides us to remove suffering from the roots through right understanding and inquiry

From one perspective, life is transient like a dewdrop, but from another, it is part of an eternal existence. For the ignorant, life is transient and death is a reality. For the Enlightened One, life is eternal and death is a lie.

When you are not connected to your eternal nature, you want to prove to the world how special and unique you are. Ambition is like fever. Just as someone with fever is diseased, he who has ambition is also not at ease. He is restless and in distress. His mind is cluttered with thoughts.

You want peace but you don’t want to give up the cause of restlessness. You want God but you don’t want to destroy your ego. You want self-realisation but you don’t want to let go of your false identity, beliefs, and insistences. The day you realise this, your life will undergo transformation. The moment you remove the cause of disquiet, peace will surface, and you will become free from all sorrows.

Joy in Suffering

The ignorant one wants to boost his ego anyhow. He wants to attract others’ attention towards him. If he cannot do that by becoming happy, he will do that even through his suffering.

When a child falls sick, he gets everyone’s attention, all his mistakes are pardoned and he suddenly becomes important. But when he recovers, all pleasurable things come to an end. He gets criticism, scolding, instructions – do this, don’t do this, keep quiet, don’t touch, sit silently, etc. So the child learns the art of remaining sad and starts enjoying it too.

In the world also, it is seen that someone who has met with tragedy gets attention and sympathy from friends and foes but in prosperity, people are jealous of him. And so, the ignorant one welcomes suffering and nourishes his ego.

This is observed even amongst the so-called religious people who take up suffering through austerity and renunciation just to get attention, respect and sympathy from the masses. In doing this, their desire for fame is fulfilled. To get more sympathy, they speak exaggeratedly of their suffering. But their desire for sympathy only shows their inner poverty, dis-ease, and lack of connection with the true Self. Awakening to one’s true nature alone can cure this disease.

The Desire to be Extraordinary

The ego is always seeking something unique, uncommon, and extraordinary. It is never satisfied with the ordinary. Until you get that thing, say a house, that house remains special for you. You stress, struggle, and spend sleepless nights to possess it. But as soon as you get the house, you see nothing special in it. Its importance is lost. The mind then searches for something unique again, and you constantly remain unsuccessful and dissatisfied. The speciality of the mind is that it makes you run and stay away from contentment.

Bernard Shaw says that there are two types of suffering in the world. One is when you don’t get what you desire and the other is when you get what you desire. The second is more harmful because there is no remedy for it.

The root cause of this seeking is ego. Even if you offer the highest state, the state of the perfected Ones, it will remain dissatisfied. That state does not make him feel ‘second to none’; many have become perfect so what is so special if I also become the same. This desire to nourish the ego will make you wander and suffer endlessly.

Does this mean that you will have to keep running forever? Is there no way out of this blind chasing? There is a remedy for it. The spiritual Masters say that he who can understand this game of the mind of making the ordinary appear extraordinary, and upon its acquisition, making it appear ordinary, his life undergoes transformation. He who gives up the desire, the insanity to become special, becomes truly special, extraordinary, the awakened One.

Why Do You Suffer?

People ask why is there so much suffering in the world? First understand that sorrow is not in the world, it is man’s creation. Man creates suffering from his false belief and ignorance about his own true nature. The true Self is an ocean of bliss. Just as those living at the shore experience equable climate and those living away experience the extremes, he who lives close to his true nature experiences equanimity, peace, and happiness; and the one living away keeps oscillating between likes and dislikes, his life becomes stressful and sorrowful.

Suffering is not your nature. He, who lives in unawareness, is affected by external circumstances. His mind becomes reactive and stressful. You suffer because of your wrong choices. Whatever you get is what you have chosen. World is just a mirror in which you see what you are. If you choose to suffer, you will gather only sorrows from the world. The mistake is in your belief. Until you change and put in the right effort, you will continue to suffer.

According to the Belief

Once Michelangelo was making a portrait of Jesus. Just then, one of his old friends came and cursed him. He thought, ‘I am painting Jesus so my response must be befitting Christ’s teachings, I must not react.’ Thinking thus, he kept quiet but he had already reacted mentally. He returned to give the last few defining strokes to the portrait. But he failed to bring out the compassionate look on Jesus’ face. He realised that his heart was burning with the thought of humiliation. Because he had anger within, even after a lot of effort, he wasn’t able to get the right expressions on the face of Jesus. So he kept his brush aside and went to that person who had cursed him. He asked for forgiveness from him. The man was dumbfounded and confessed that it was he who had abused while Michelangelo had remained quiet. Michelangelo said, “Although I did not express it, in my mind, I surely bred thoughts of anger and enmity.” Later, when he sat to paint with a heart freed from anger, filled with compassion and forgiveness, he could complete the picture in no time.

This shows that the world and the worldly circumstances are judged based on one’s inner state. When the world is perceived through a transformed and elevated vision, you cannot see injustice and sorrow anywhere. The world is just a canvas. Your beliefs paint heaven or hell on it. And your inner state fills in the colour. When your painting stops, you are liberated. Then you create neither joy nor sorrow, for you have attained eternal peace.

The Shackles

Once a person said, “I feel very happy listening to this knowledge. I have understood what is truth. I feel intoxicated by the divine! Now, I wish to do just this. But I am tied. How do I become free from my worldly entanglements?”

I had to tell him that you are not yet fully intoxicated. If it were so, if the truth were completely known by you, there would have been no talk about the shackles. Where there is intoxication, the outside circumstances no more appear as entanglements. Shackles are in your belief. You only think you are bound and the bondage is due to others but this belief of yours itself is the shackles.

Mind sees and experiences only what it believes in. It has tremendous power. The entanglements you speak of are what your mind has already believed to be true. Family, status, and reputation are entanglements is its belief. And these ‘entanglements’ make you suffer is also a misconception.

When a seeker manifests in you, the same shackles appear as anklets. What you thought was preventing you from dancing will appear helpful! But as you progress and mature, the world does not appear as shackles or anklets. At the end of the journey, even the dancing stops and manifests the steady state of abidance in the Self.


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