Open main menu

Read Summary of Suffering

What Is Suffering?

Suffering is simply a natural consequence of past errors, not a punishment, just as a burn is the natural consequence of playing with fire. It is part of the experience by which the soul through its instruments learns and grows until it is ready to turn to the Divine. [1]

~

Pain of mind and body is a device of Nature, that is to say, of Force in her works, meant to subserve a definite transitional end in her upward evolution. The world is from the point of view of the individual a play and complex shock of multitudinous forces. In the midst of this complex play the individual stands as a limited constructed being with a limited amount of force exposed to numberless shocks which may wound, maim, break up or disintegrate the construction which he calls himself. [2]

~

Life as it is is certainly full of mishap and suffering and looks like an inconsequence of Nature that has no eventual significance. But even if one does not find the concealed significance, yet if one can live in the higher calm, one can pass through it without being immersed in its bitternesses or its engulfing turmoils. [3]

~

It is that identification which is the keystone of the limitation and bondage from which the outer being suffers, preventing expansion, self-knowledge, spiritual freedom. But still the wall must not be prematurely broken down, because that may lead to a disruption or confusion or invasion of either part by the movements of the two separated worlds before they are ready to harmonise. A certain separation is necessary for some time after one has become aware of these two parts of the being as existing together. The force of the Yoga must be given time to make the necessary adjustments and openings, and to take the being inward and then from this inward poise to work on the outer nature. [4]

~

Bodily well-being does not inevitably bring peace and joy; and poverty is not necessarily a cause of misery, as is shown by the voluntary poverty of the ascetics of all countries and all ages, who found in their destitution the source and condition of a perfect peace and happiness. Whereas on the contrary, the enjoyment of worldly possessions, of all that material wealth can provide in the way of comfort and pleasure and external satisfaction is powerless to prevent one who possesses these things from suffering pain and sorrow. [5]

~

Moral evil is in reality a form of mental disease or ignorance, who or what created this law or inevitable connection which punishes a mental disease or act of ignorance by a recoil so terrible, by tortures often so extreme and monstrous? The inexorable law of Karma is irreconcilable with a supreme moral and personal Deity, and therefore the clear logic of Buddha denied the existence of any free and all-governing personal God; all personality he declared to be a creation of ignorance and subject to Karma. [6]

~

It is the incompleteness and weakness of the Consciousness Force manifested in the mental, vital and physical being, its inability to receive or refuse at will, or, receiving, to assimilate or harmonise the contacts of the universal Energy cast upon it, that is the cause of pain and suffering. In the material realm Nature starts with an entire insensibility, and it is a notable fact that either a comparative insensibility or a deficient sensibility or, more often, a greater endurance and hardness to suffering is found in the beginnings of life, in the animal, in primitive or less developed man; as the human being grows in evolution, he grows in sensibility and suffers more keenly in mind and life and body. For the growth in consciousness is not sufficiently supported by a growth in force; the body becomes more subtle, more finely capable, but less solidly efficient in its external energy: man has to call in his will, his mental power to dynamise, correct and control his nervous being, force it to the strenuous tasks he demands from his instruments, steel it against suffering and disaster. [7]

~

There is nothing that could be called suffering. All that is necessary is to change one's state of consciousness. That is all. All undelight, all pain and suffering are a sign of imperfection, of incompleteness; they arise from a division of being, an incompleteness of consciousness of being, an incompleteness of the force of being. To become complete in being, in consciousness of being, in force of being, in delight of being and to live in this integrated completeness is the divine living. [8]

~

For grief, pain, suffering, error, falsehood, ignorance, weakness, wickedness, incapacity, non-doing of what should be done and wrong-doing, deviation of will and denial of will, egoism, limitation, division from other beings with whom we should be one, all that makes up the effective figure of what we call evil, are facts of the world-consciousness, not fictions and unrealities, although they are facts whose complete sense or true value is not that which we assign to them in our ignorance.[9]

~

There are [at work in the world] the higher forces of the Divine Nature—the forces of Light, Truth, divine Power, Peace, Ananda—there are the forces of the lower nature which belong either to a lower truth or to ignorance and error—there are also the hostile forces whose whole aim is to maintain the reign of Darkness, Falsehood, Death and Suffering as the law of life. [10]

~

When the inner disorder becomes hard to bear that the intensity grows and becomes permanent...pain and suffering and struggle and excesses of despair are natural. [11] The universe is certainly or has been up to now in appearance a rough and wasteful game with the dice of chance loaded in favour of the Powers of darkness, the Lords of obscurity, falsehood, death and suffering. But we have to take it as it is and find out—if we reject the way out of the old sages—the way to conquer. Spiritual experience shows that there is behind it all a wide terrain of equality, peace, calm, freedom, and it is only by getting into it that we can have the eye that sees and hope to gain the power that conquers. [12]

~

The causes of suffering are innumerable and its quality also varies a great deal, although the origin of suffering is one and the same and comes from the initial action of an anti-divine will. To make this easier to understand, one can divide suffering into two distinct categories, although in practice they are very often mixed. [13]

~

Suffering In Different Parts of Being

Physical

Physical sufferings are due to attacks of the forces of the Ignorance. But if one knows how to do it, one can make them a means of purification. There are however better and less difficult means of purification. [14]

~

In the economy of Nature I think that the first purpose of physical suffering was to give you a warning. [15]

~

The physical inertia from which you suffer is likely to lessen and disappear only when strength from above descends into the system. [16]

~

If it [the consciousness] is separate, it should not suffer from them [pains]. Even for the pains, the body may suffer but the consciousness should not feel itself suffering or overpowered. [17]

~

Physical mind which supports the repetition of old ideas, habits, movements or actions while the body consciousness suffers from an apprehension or fear of the called-for change, a drawing back from it or a dullness which does not receive the call. [18]

~

Vital, mental, emotive suffering—arise from a wrong functioning of the mind,...can easily rank them in the Falsehood, that's all. But physical suffering is to me like a child being beaten, because here in Matter, Falsehood turned into ignorance, which means there is no bad will—there is no bad will in Matter, everything is inertia and ignorance: total ignorance of the Truth, ignorance of the Origin, ignorance of the Possibility, even ignorance of what needs to be done so as not to suffer materially. This ignorance is everywhere in the cells, and only the experience—and the experience of what, in this rudimentary consciousness, is translated as suffering—can awaken, arouse the need to know and be cured, and the aspiration to be transformed. [19]

Vital

When the vital resists the change from the human into the divine consciousness, what it is defending is its right to sorrow and suffering and all the rest of it, varied and relieved no doubt by some vital or mental pleasures and satisfactions, but very partially relieved by them and only for a time. [20]

~

There is something in the vital consciousness that would not feel at home if there were no suffering in life. It is the physical that fears and abhors suffering, but the vital takes it as part of the play of life. [21]

~

It is not the soul but the vital or rather something in it that takes pleasure in groaning and weeping and in fact in sorrow and suffering of all kinds. [22]

~

Usually the vital tries to resist the call to change. That is what is meant by revolt or opposition. If the inner will insists and forbids revolt or opposition, the vital unwillingness may often take the form of depression and dejection accompanied by a resistance in the physical mind which supports the repetition of old ideas, habits, movements or actions which the body consciousness suffers from an apprehension or fear of the called for change, a drawing back from it or a dullness which does not receive the call. [23]

~

Unfortunately, there is the vital which pokes its nose into the affair and takes a very perverse pleasure in increasing, twisting, sharpening the suffering. Now this deforms the whole system because instead of being an indicator, sometimes it becomes an occasion for enjoying the illness, for making oneself interesting, and also having the opportunity to pity oneself—all kinds of things which all come from the vital and are all detestable, one more than another. [24]

~

The thing in you which enjoys the suffering and wants it is part of the human vital—it is these things that we describe as the insincerity and perverse twist of the vital; it cries out against sorrow and trouble and accuses the Divine and life and everybody else of torturing it, but for the most part the sorrow and the trouble come and remain because the perverse something in the vital wants them! [25]

~

The vital physical on the other hand is the vehicle of the nervous responses of our physical nature; it is the field and instrument of the smaller sensations, desires, reactions of all kinds to the impacts of the outer physical and gross material life. This vital physical part (supported by the lowest part of the vital proper) is therefore the agent of most of the lesser movements of our external life; its habitual reactions and obstinate pettinesses are the chief stumbling-block in the way of the transformation of the outer consciousness by the Yoga. It is also largely responsible for most of the suffering and disease of mind or body to which the physical being is subject in Nature. [26]

~

Thus the proper function of the life, the vital force, is enjoyment and possession, both of them perfectly legitimate, because the Spirit created the world for Ananda, enjoyment and possession of the many by the One, of the One by the many and of the many too by the many; but,—this is an instance of the first kind of defect,—the separative ignorance gives to it the wrong form of desire and craving which vitiates the whole enjoyment and possession and imposes on it its opposites, want and suffering. [27]

~

Something liking to suffer, nobody doubts that your external consciousness dislikes its suffering. The physical mind and consciousness of man hates its own suffering and if left to itself dislikes also to see others suffer. But if you will try to fathom the significance of your own admission of liking drama or of the turn towards drama—from which very few human beings escape—and if you go deep enough, you will find that there is something in the vital which likes suffering and clings to it for the sake of the drama; it is something below the surface, not on the surface, but it is strong, almost universal in human nature and difficult to eradicate unless one recognises it and gets inwardly away from it. The mind and the physical of man do not like suffering for if they did it would not be suffering any longer, but this thing in the vital wants it in order to give a spice to life. Pain and suffering are necessary results of the Ignorance in which we live; men grow by all kinds of experience, pain and suffering as well as their opposites, joy and happiness and ecstasy. One can get strength from them if one meets them in the right way. Many take a joy in pain and suffering when associated with struggle or endeavour or adventure, but that is more because of the exhilaration and excitement of the struggle than because of suffering for its own sake. [28]

Mental

Intensely and often looms larger than the greater sum of pleasure; precisely because the latter is normal, we do not treasure it, hardly even observe it unless it intensifies into some acuter form of itself, into a wave of happiness, a crest of joy or ecstasy. To want what the Divine wants in all sincerity is the essential condition for peace and joy in life. Almost all human miseries come from the fact that human beings are almost always persuaded they know better than the Divine what they need and what life is supposed to bring them. The majority of human beings want other human beings to behave according to their own expectations and life circumstances to follow their own desires, hence they suffer and are unhappy. [29]

Psychic Being

The sufferings and distress which come to people are part of their karma, part of the experience the being has to go through on its way through life after life till it is ready for spiritual change. [30]

~

Outward happiness and suffering are to be taken with an unshaken equality and trust in the Divine Wisdom till one has attained a position in which, united with the Divine Will, one can dominate them. [31]

~

This divine compassion is based on a sublime and eternal joy which alone has the strength and the power to deliver the world from its ignorance and misery. [32]

~

It is the inner being that suffers and always wants to unite with the divine consciousness but cannot because of the outer consciousness. Mother, really I am suffering. [33]

~

...every time one is unhappy, well, it is one more suffering added to the collective suffering of the Divine. [34]

In the Mother in Savitri

It is because she participates in their nature. She has descended upon earth to participate in their nature. Because if she did not participate in their nature, she could not lead them farther. If she remained in her supreme consciousness where there is no suffering, in her supreme knowledge and consciousness, she could not have any contact with human beings. And it is for this that she is obliged to take on the human consciousness and form, it is to be able to enter into contact with them. Only, she does not forget: she has adopted their consciousness but she remains in relation with her own real, supreme consciousness. And thus, by joining the two, she can make those who are in that other consciousness progress. But if she did not adopt their consciousness, if she did not suffer with their sorrow, she could not help them. Hers is not a suffering of ignorance: it is a suffering through identity. It is because she has accepted to have the same vibrations as they, in order to be able to enter into contact with them and pull them out of the state they are in. If she did not enter into contact with them, she would not be felt at all or no one could bear her radiance.... [35]

Why Suffering Happens?

Outward difficulties are really nothing—it is the inward that are difficult to get rid of, because something in nature gives consent to them—or at least is accustomed to suffer and tolerate them. [36]

~

The causes of suffering are innumerable and its quality also varies a great deal,... one can divide suffering into two distinct categories, although in practice they are very often mixed. [37]

~

The first is purely egoistic and comes from a feeling that one's rights have been violated, that one has been deprived of one's needs, offended, despoiled, betrayed, injured, etc. This whole category of suffering is clearly the result of hostile action and it not only opens the door in the consciousness to the influence of the adversary but is also one of his most powerful ways of acting in the world, the most powerful of all if in addition there comes its natural and spontaneous consequence: hatred and the desire for revenge in the strong, despair and the wish to die in the weak. The other category of suffering, whose initial cause is the pain of separation created by the adversary, is totally opposite in nature: it is the suffering that comes from divine compassion, the suffering of love that feels compassion for the world's misery, whatever its origin, cause or effect. But this suffering, which is of a purely psychic character, contains no egoism, no self-pity; it is full of peace and strength and power of action, of faith in the future and the will for victory; it does not pity but consoles, it does not identify itself with the ignorant movement in others but cures and illumines it. [38]

~

And this suffering too will disappear from the universe only with the total disappearance of the adversary and all the effects of his action. [39]

~

Human miseries and misfortunes are always of the same nature; there are sufferings that come from yourself, from circumstances or from the general state of things, that is, you are subject to these sufferings from your birth and none can escape them. They do not always have the same intensity but they are always there. Hence it seems there is a contradiction and yet this is not correct: because for some people it is as if the thing did not exist, even when it exists! As if it was not, even while it was! Neither the one nor the other is wholly true, neither the one nor the other is wholly false. [40]

~

This world is so arranged that it is not possible to live without some destruction of life—so for this there need be no remorse. Only one should not destroy life wantonly or inflict needless suffering on animals or any living things. [41]

Causes of Suffering

The notion of "unhappiness" has entered the world with the capacity to consider that things were unfortunate...Thus, plants do not suffer because they do not know that they suffer and animals do not suffer because they do not know that they suffer... [42]

Ignorance

The cause of suffering is desire, which is caused by ignorance of the nature of separative life. [43]

~

The world will be made better only in proportion as we make ourselves better. The Vedantic truth that the world is only a projection—a function—of our consciousness is as pragmatically true as it is spiritually true. The ills that humanity suffers from—collectively and individually—stem from the errors that lie at the roots of our ignorant nature. [44]

~

Suffering is due first to the Ignorance, secondly to the separation of the individual consciousness from the Divine Consciousness and Being, a separation created by the Ignorance—when that ceases, when one lives completely in the Divine and no more in one's separated smaller self, then only suffering can altogether cease. Each soul follows its own line and these lines meet, journey together for a space, then part to meet again perhaps hereafter—often they meet to help each other on the journey in one way or another. [45]

~

The sense, the idea, the experience that I am a separately self-existent being in the universe, and the forming of consciousness and force of being into the mould of that experience are the root of all suffering, ignorance and evil. And it is so because that falsifies both in practice and in cognition the whole real truth of things; it limits the being, limits the consciousness, limits the power of our being, limits the bliss of being; this limitation again produces a wrong way of existence, wrong way of consciousness, wrong way of using the power of our being and consciousness, and wrong, perverse and contrary forms of the delight of existence. [46]

~

The Divine does not want human beings to suffer, but, in their ignorance, human beings react in such a way that they bring suffering upon themselves. In peace, quietness and surrender is the only solution. [47] The Ignorance which is the characteristic of our mind and life is the result of this origin in the Inconscience. Moreover, in the evolution out of inconscient existence there rise up naturally powers and beings which are interested in the maintenance of all negations of the Divine, error and unconsciousness, pain, suffering, obscurity, death, weakness, illness, disharmony, evil. Hence the perversion of the manifestation here, its inability to reveal the true essence of the Divine. Yet in the very base of this evolution all that is divine is there involved and pressing to evolve, Light, Consciousness, Power, Perfection, Beauty, Love. [48]

Separation

In truth, the difficulty thus sharply presented arises only if we assume the existence of an extra-cosmic personal God, not Himself the universe. The question is no longer how came God to create for His creatures a suffering and evil of which He is Himself incapable and therefore immune, but how came the sole and infinite Existence-Consciousness-Bliss to admit into itself that which is not bliss, that which seems to be its positive negation. [49]

~

All the trouble and suffering of the soul proceeds from this wrong egoistic and separative way of existence. The soul not in possession of its free self-existence, anātmavān, because it is limited in its consciousness, is limited in knowledge; and this limited knowledge takes the form of a falsifying knowledge. The struggle to return to a true knowing is imposed upon it, but the ego in the separative mind is satisfied with shows and fragments of knowledge which it pieces together into some false or some imperfect total or governing notion, and this knowledge fails it and has to be abandoned for a fresh pursuit of the one thing to be known. That one thing is the Divine, the Self, the Spirit in whom universal and individual being find at last their right foundation and their right harmonies. [50]

~

Division, ego, the imperfect consciousness and groping and struggle of a separate self-affirmation are the effective cause of the suffering and ignorance of this world. Once consciousnesses separated from the One Consciousness, they fell inevitably into ignorance and the last result of ignorance was Inconscience; from a dark immense Inconscient this material world arises and out of it a soul that by evolution is struggling into consciousness, attracted towards the hidden Light, ascending but still blindly towards the lost Divinity from which it came. [51]

~

The pain of separation created by the adversary, is totally opposite in nature: it is the suffering that comes from divine compassion, the suffering of love that feels compassion for the world's misery, whatever its origin, cause or effect. But this suffering, which is of a purely psychic character, contains no egoism, no self-pity; it is full of peace and strength and power of action, of faith in the future and the will for victory; it does not pity but consoles, it does not identify itself with the ignorant movement in others but cures and illumines it. [52]

Disharmony

As to suffering, which is so great a stumbling-block to our understanding of the universe, it is evidently a consequence of the limitation of consciousness, the restriction of force which prevents us from mastering or assimilating the touch of what is to us other-force: the result of this incapacity and disharmony is that the delight of the touch cannot be seized and it affects our sense with a reaction of discomfort or pain, a defect or excess, a discord resultant in inner or outer injury, born of division between our power of being and the power of being that meets us. [53]

~

The result of hostile action and it not only opens the door in the consciousness to the influence of the adversary but is also one of his most powerful ways of acting in the world, the most powerful of all if in addition there comes its natural and spontaneous consequence: hatred and the desire for revenge in the strong, despair and the wish to die in the weak [54]

Opposition from the Lower Nature

But even this intervention of a new dynamic principle and this powerful imposition may take long to succeed; for the lower parts of the being have their own rights and, if they are to be truly transformed, they must be made to consent to their own transformation. This is difficult to bring about because the natural propensity of each part of us is to prefer its own self law, its dharma, however inferior, to a superior law or dharma which it feels to be not its own; it clings to its own consciousness or unconsciousness, its own impulsions and reactions, its own dynamization of being, its own way of the delight of existence. It clings to them all the more obstinately if that way be a contradiction of delight, a way of darkness and sorrow and pain and suffering; for that too has acquired its own perverse and opposite taste, rasa, its pleasure of darkness and sorrow, its sadistic or masochistic interest in pain and suffering. Even if this part of our being seeks better things, it is often obliged to follow the worse because they are its own, natural to its energy, natural to its substance. A complete and radical change can only be brought about by bringing in persistently the spiritual light and intimate experience of the spiritual truth, power, bliss into the recalcitrant elements until they too recognise that their own way of fulfilment lies there, that they are themselves a diminished power of the spirit and can recover by this new way of being their own truth and integral nature. This illumination is constantly opposed by the Forces of the lower nature and still more by the adverse Forces that live and reign by the world's imperfections and have laid down their formidable foundation on the black rock of the Inconscience. [55]

~

Life here is an evolution and the soul grows by experience, working out by it this or that in the nature, and if there is suffering, it is for the purpose of that working out, not as a judgment inflicted by God or Cosmic Law on the errors or stumblings which are inevitable in the Ignorance. [56]

~

"Pain and grief are Nature's reminder to the soul that the pleasure it enjoys is only a feeble hint of the real delight of existence. In each pain and torture of our being is the secret of a flame of rapture compared with which our greatest pleasures are only as dim flickerings. It is this secret which forms the attraction for the soul of the great ordeals, sufferings and fierce experiences of life which the nervous mind in us shuns and abhors." [57]

Divine Vital and Human Vital

Q: But is the Divine then something so terrible, horrible or repellent that the idea of its entry into the physical, its divinising of the human should create this shrinking, refusal, revolt or fear?

A: I can understand that the unregenerate vital attached to its own petty sufferings and pleasures, to the brief ignorant drama of life, should shrink from what will change it. But why should a God-lover, a God-seeker, a sadhak fear the divinisation of the consciousness! Why should he object to becoming one in nature with what he seeks, why should he recoil from sādṛśya-mukti? Behind this fear there are usually two causes: first, there is the feeling of the vital that it will have to cease to be obscure, crude, muddy, egoistic, unrefined (spiritually), full of stimulating desires and small pleasures and interesting sufferings (for it shrinks even from the Ananda which will replace them); next, there is some vague ignorant idea of the mind, due, I suppose, to the ascetic tradition, that the divine nature is something cold, bare, empty, austere, aloof, without the glorious riches of the egoistic human vital life. As if there were not a divine vital and as if that divine vital is not itself and, when it gets the means to manifest, will not make the life on earth also infinitely more full of beauty, love, radiance, warmth, fire, intensity and divine passion and capacity for bliss than the present impotent, suffering, pettily and transiently excited and soon tired vitality of the still so imperfect human creation! [58]

Purpose of Suffering

Physical Suffering

If the body was disorganised in some way or other and this caused no suffering at all, one would never look for a way to stop the disorganisation. One thinks of curing an illness only because one suffers. If it caused you no unpleasantness, you would never think of being cured of it. So, in the economy of Nature I think that the first purpose of physical suffering was to give you a warning. [59] I know perfectly well that pain and suffering and struggle and excesses of despair are natural—though not inevitable—on the way,—not because they are helps, but because they are imposed on us by the darkness of this human nature out of which we have to struggle into the Light.[60]

Vital and Mental Suffering

It is suffering which makes us conscious of a higher force. [61]

~

If human beings did not suffer, perhaps they would never make any progress. Aspiration is quite lukewarm when one is perfectly satisfied. [62]

~

A certain vibration of awakening—of reawakening—was necessary to emerge from that tamas, which was incapable of directly changing from tamas into Peace; something was needed to shake the tamas, and outwardly it resulted in suffering. [63]

~

In Yoga there is the period of struggle and difficulty in which the difficulty and suffering can be acute and the period of the foundation in the true consciousness after which there is no serious disturbance of the peace and freedom leading to the state of realisation in all the being in which grief etc. are impossible. [64]

~

The dark path is there and there are many who make like the Christians a gospel of spiritual suffering; many hold it to be the unavoidable price of victory. It may be so under certain circumstances, as it has been in so many lives at least at the beginning, or one may choose to make it so. But then the price has to be paid with resignation, fortitude or a tenacious resilience. I admit that if borne in that way the attacks of the Dark Forces or the ordeals they impose have a meaning. After each victory gained over them, there is then a sensible advance; often they seem to show us the difficulties in ourselves which we have to overcome and to say, "Here you must conquer us and here." [65]

~

This world appears to us rather as a world of suffering than as a world of the delight of existence...pain affects us more intensely and often looms larger than the greater sum of pleasure; precisely because the latter is normal, we do not treasure it, hardly even observe it unless it intensifies into some acuter form of itself, into a wave of happiness, a crest of joy or ecstasy...In that balance we enter only positive pleasures on one side and discomfort and pain on the other; pain affects us more intensely because it is abnormal to our being, contrary to our natural tendency and is experienced as an outrage on our existence, an offence and external attack on what we are and seek to be. [66]

Suffering of a Yogi

There are some who can bear their own sufferings much better than they can bear the sufferings of others, while the Yogi can bear the whole world's suffering in himself and yet not falter. [67]

~

Whatever sufferings come on the path, are not too high a price for the victory that has to be won and, if they are taken in the right spirit, they become even a means towards the victory[68]

The Precautions /Challenges

There are people who go on making mistakes and yet they do not suffer. But those who are born for a spiritual life have to be very careful. [69]

~

One who frequents fools is bound to suffer long; the company of fools is as painful as that of enemies. [70]

~

The shutting up of the individual in his own personal consciousness of separate and limited mind, life and body prevents what would otherwise be the natural law of our development. It brings into the body the law of attraction and repulsion, of defence and attack, of discord and pain. For each body being a limited conscious-force feels itself exposed to the attack, impact, forceful contact of other such limited conscious-forces or of universal forces and, where it feels itself broken in upon or unable to harmonise the contacting and the recipient consciousness, it suffers discomfort and pain, is attracted or repelled, has to defend itself or to assail; it is constantly called upon to undergo what it is unwilling or unable to suffer. [71]

~

In fact, we do pursue as an ideal, so far as we may, the elimination of all these negative or adverse phenomena. We seek constantly to minimise the causes of error, pain and suffering. Science, as its knowledge increases, dreams of regulating birth and of indefinitely prolonging life, if not of effecting the entire conquest of death. But because we envisage only external or secondary causes, we can only think of removing them to a distance and not of eliminating the actual roots of that against which we struggle. And we are thus limited because we strive towards secondary perceptions and not towards root-knowledge, because we know processes of things, but not their essence. [72]

~

All experience in relation proceeds through certain forces of being formulating themselves by an instrumentation to which we give the name of properties, qualities, activities, faculties. As, for instance, Mind throws itself into various forms of mind-power, such as judgment, observation, memory, sympathy, proper to its own being, so must the Truth-consciousness or Supermind effect the relations of soul with soul by forces, faculties, functionings proper to supramental being; otherwise there would be no play of differentiation. What these functionings are, we shall see when we come to consider the psychological conditions of the divine Life; at present we are only considering its metaphysical foundations, its essential nature and principles. Suffice it at present to observe that the absence or abolition of separatist egoism and of effective division in consciousness is the one essential condition of the divine Life, and therefore their presence in us is that which constitutes our mortality and our fall from the Divine. This is our "original sin", or rather let us say in a more philosophical language, the deviation from the Truth and Right of the Spirit, from its oneness, integrality and harmony that was the necessary condition for the great plunge into the Ignorance which is the soul's adventure in the world and from which was born our suffering and aspiring humanity. [73]

Why is Suffering Not Necessary?

You don't need to suffer; it's not necessary. [74]

~

One should try never to be the cause of any additional suffering. [75]

~

The purpose and goal of life is not suffering and struggle but an all-powerful and happy realization. [76]

~

The Divine does not want human beings to suffer, but, in their ignorance, human beings react in such a way that they bring suffering upon themselves. In peace, quietness and surrender is the only solution. [77]

~

This, the real problem, is often farther confused by a false issue starting from the idea of a personal extra-cosmic God and a partial issue, the ethical difficulty. [78]

~

Moral evil is in reality a form of mental disease or ignorance, who or what created this law or inevitable connection which punishes a mental disease or act of ignorance by a recoil so terrible, by tortures often so extreme and monstrous? The inexorable law of Karma is irreconcilable with a supreme moral and personal Deity, and therefore the clear logic of Buddha denied the existence of any free and all-governing personal God; all personality he declared to be a creation of ignorance and subject to Karma. [79]

~

There is nothing of which it could be said: it is a misfortune. There is nothing that could be called suffering. All that is necessary is to change one's state of consciousness. That is all… if you yourself succeed in changing your state of consciousness and enter this condition of bliss, you can see others still quarrelling, fighting, being unhappy, suffering and feeling miserable, and you yourself feel that everything is so harmonious, so wonderful, so sweet, so pleasant, and you say: "Well, why don't they do what I do?" But the trouble is that everybody is not ready to do that! And for those who remain in the ordinary consciousness, for them suffering is something very real. [80]

~

The difficulty thus sharply presented arises only if we assume the existence of an extra-cosmic personal God, not Himself the universe, one who has created good and evil, pain and suffering for His creatures, but Himself stands above and unaffected by them, watching, ruling, doing His will with a suffering and struggling world or, if not doing His will, if allowing the world to be driven by an inexorable law, unhelped by Him or inefficiently helped, then not God, not omnipotent, not all-good and all-loving. In that balance we enter only positive pleasures on one side and discomfort and pain on the other; pain affects us more intensely because it is abnormal to our being, contrary to our natural tendency and is experienced as an outrage on our existence, an offence and external attack on what we are and seek to be. [81]

~

The question is no longer how came God to create for His creatures a suffering and evil of which He is Himself incapable and therefore immune, but how came the sole and infinite Existence-Consciousness-Bliss to admit into itself that which is not bliss, that which seems to be its positive negation. [82]

~

So long as you take it seriously, so long as you justify the movement, so long as somewhere in the mind there's the idea, "After all, it is quite natural, I was ill-treated and I suffer from the ill-treatment", then it is finished, it will never go. But if you begin to understand that it is a sign of weakness, of inferiority—naturally, of a very considerable egoism, a narrow-mindedness, and above all of a pettiness of the feelings, a small-heartedness—if you understand that, you can fight it. But your thoughts should be in agreement. If there is the attitude, "I have been hurt, I am suffering, I am going to show that I am suffering", then it is like that. I am not going so far as to mention people who nurse a fairly secret spirit of vengeance and say, "I have been made to suffer, I shall make them suffer." This indeed becomes nasty enough for people to notice that it should not exist—though it is not always easy to resist. [83]

No Absoluteness in Suffering

Human values of good and evil, as of truth and error, are indeed uncertain and relative: what is held as truth in one place or time is held in another place or time to be error; what is regarded as good is elsewhere or in other times regarded as evil. We find too that what we call evil results in good, what we call good results in evil. But this untoward outcome of good producing evil is due to the confusion and mixture of knowledge and ignorance, to the penetration of true consciousness by wrong consciousness, so that there is an ignorant or mistaken application of our good, or it is due to the intervention of afflicting forces. In the opposite case of evil producing good, the happier and contradictory result is due to the intervention of some true consciousness and force acting behind and in spite of wrong consciousness and wrong will or it is due to the intervention of redressing forces. This relativity, this mixture is a circumstance of human mentality and the workings of the Cosmic Force in human life; it is not the fundamental truth of good and evil. It might be objected that physical evil, such as pain and most bodily suffering, is independent of knowledge and ignorance, of right and wrong consciousness, inherent in physical Nature: but, fundamentally, all pain and suffering are the result of an insufficient consciousness-force in the surface being which makes it unable to deal rightly with self and Nature or unable to assimilate and to harmonise itself with the contacts of the universal Energy; they would not exist if in us there were an integral presence of the luminous Consciousness and the divine Force of an integral Being. Therefore the relation of truth to falsehood, of good to evil is not a mutual dependence, but is in the nature of a contradiction as of light and shadow; a shadow depends on light for its existence, but light does not depend for its existence on the shadow. The relation between the Absolute and these contraries of some of its fundamental aspects is not that they are opposite fundamental aspects of the Absolute; falsehood and evil have no fundamentality, no power of infinity or eternal being, no self-existence even by latency in the Self-Existent, no authenticity of an original inherence. [84]

How to Deal with Suffering?

Necessary Conditions

Trust, virtue, energy, meditation, the quest for truth, perfection of knowledge and conduct, by faith destroy in you all suffering. [85]

Self Purification

The ills that humanity suffers from—collectively and individually—stem from the errors that lie at the roots of our ignorant nature. We must be cleansed of these evils—individually first of all—if we ever hope to see a clean world outside. A yoga of self-purification is the condition precedent to a yoga of perfection. [86]

Equality

Equality is a very important part of this Yoga; it is necessary to keep equality under pain and suffering—and that means to endure firmly and calmly, not to be restless or troubled or depressed or despondent, to go on in a steady faith in the Divine Will. But equality does not include inert acceptance. If, for instance, there is temporary failure of some endeavour in the sadhana, one has to keep equality, not to be troubled or despondent, but one has not to accept the failure as an indication of the Divine Will and give up the endeavour. You ought rather to find out the reason and meaning of the failure and go forward in faith towards victory. So with illness—you have not to be troubled, shaken or restless, but you have not to accept illness as the Divine Will, but rather look upon it as an imperfection of the body to be got rid of as you try to get rid of vital imperfections or mental errors. [87]

Suffering As An Aid

It can become an operative part of a satisfactory explanation if this world is the field for the working out of a greater creative motive, if it is a manifestation of a divine Truth or a divine Possibility in which under certain conditions an initiating Ignorance must intervene as a necessary factor, and if the arrangement of this universe contains in it a compulsion of the Ignorance to move towards Knowledge, of the imperfect manifestation to grow into perfection, of the frustration to serve as steps towards a final victory, of the suffering to prepare an emergence of the divine Delight of Being. In that case the sense of disappointment, frustration, illusion and the vanity of all things would not be valid; for the aspects that seem to justify it would be only the natural circumstances of a difficult evolution: all the stress of struggle and effort, success and failure, joy and suffering, the mixture of ignorance and knowledge would be the experience needed for the soul, mind, life and physical part to grow into the full light of a spiritual perfected being. It would reveal itself as the process of an evolutionary manifestation; there would be no need to bring in the fiat of an arbitrary Omnipotence or a cosmic Illusion, a phantasy of meaningless Maya. [88]

~

The three things—the suffering as a means of progress, the progress, and the cure of the suffering—are coexistent, simultaneous, meaning that they don't follow one another, they take place at the same time. [89]

~

Man must rise to a higher level of consciousness and get rid of his ignorance, limitation and selfishness in order to get rid also of his sufferings. [90]

~

This little mind, vital and body which we call ourselves is only a surface movement and not our "self" at all. It is an external bit of personality put forward for one brief life and for the play of the Ignorance. It is equipped with an ignorant mind stumbling about in search of fragments of truth, an ignorant vital rushing about in search of fragments of pleasure, an obscure and mostly subconscious physical receiving the impacts of things and suffering rather than possessing a resultant pain or pleasure. All that is accepted until the mind gets disgusted and starts looking about for the real Truth of itself and things, the vital gets disgusted and begins wondering whether there is not such a thing as real bliss and the physical gets tired and wants liberation from itself and its pains and pleasures. Then it is possible for this little ignorant bit of surface personality to get back to its real Self and with it to these greater things—or else to extinction of itself, Nirvana. [91]

~

Saturate your mind and vital with the Truth and remain calm and still. It is from unsatisfied desire that all suffering arises; take your stand on a calm free from desire. When that has come, all else of the Divine Truth, Love and Ananda can come and stand securely upon it. [92]

~

If we find out this Divine within us, if we know ourselves as this spirit which is of one essence and being with the Divine, that is our gate of deliverance and in it we can remain ourselves even in the midst of this world's disharmonies, luminous, blissful and free. That much is the age-old testimony of spiritual experience. [93]

~

If we look only at outward facts in their surface appearance or if we regard what we see happening around us as definitive, not as processes of a moment in a developing whole, the guidance is not apparent; at most we may see interventions occasional or sometimes frequent. The guidance can become evident only if we go behind appearances and begin to understand the forces at work and the way of their working and their secret significance. After all, real knowledge—even scientific knowledge—comes by going behind the surface phenomena to their hidden process and causes. [94]

~

The surface mind can get only an imperfect glimpse. When we are in contact with the Divine or in contact with an inner knowledge and vision, we begin to see all the circumstances of our life in a new light and can observe how they all tended without our knowing it towards the growth of our being and consciousness, towards the work we had to do, towards some development that had to be made,—not only what seemed good, fortunate or successful but the struggles, failures, difficulties, upheavals. But with each person the guidance works differently according to his nature, the conditions of his life, his cast of consciousness, his stage of development, his need of farther experience. [95]

~

There is a quite different rule both for life and for Yoga. For the life in its progress, for the soul in its ascendance, grief and suffering should be only an incident on the way and the vision look always and steadily to a joy and a glory beyond it—let the gloom pass and look beyond it towards Light. [96]

~

...the possibility of making this unreality of suffering felt everywhere. When the possibility is glimpsed of transmitting everywhere the unreality of suffering, there is a joy—there is a light, a joy in the body. That makes it happy. So the Consciousness above says, "That's how it is, that's how it will be. There.” [97]

Overcoming Suffering

You have to stand back from the feeling of suffering, anguish and apprehension, reject it and look quietly at the resistance, affirming always to yourself your will to change and insisting that it shall be done and cannot fail to be done now or later with the divine help, because the divine help is there. It is then that the strength can come to you that will overcome the difficulties. [98]

~

Quite naturally we ask ourselves what this secret is, towards which pain leads us. For a superficial and imperfect understanding, one could believe that it is pain which the soul is seeking. Nothing of the kind. The very nature of the soul is divine Delight, constant, unvarying, unconditioned, ecstatic; but it is true that if one can face suffering with courage, endurance, an unshakable faith in the divine Grace, if one can, instead of shunning suffering when it comes, enter into it with this will, this aspiration to go through it and find the luminous truth, the unvarying delight which is at the core of all things, the door of pain is often more direct, more immediate than that of satisfaction or contentment. [99]

~

There are constant fluctuations, persistent disappointments, innumerable falls and failures. No path of Yoga is really easy or free from these difficulties or fluctuations; the way of bhakti is supposed to be the easiest, but still we find constant complaints that one is always seeking but never finding and even at the best there is a constant ebb and tide, milana and viraha, joy and weeping, ecstasy and despair. If one has the faith or in the absence of faith the will to go through, one passes on and enters into the joy and light of the divine realisation. If one gets some habit of true surrender, then all this is not necessary; one can enter into the sunlit way. Or if one can get some touch of what is called pure bhakti, śuddhā bhakti, then whatever happens that is enough; the way becomes easy, or if it does not, still this is a sufficient start to support us to the end without the sufferings and falls that happen so often to the ignorant seeker. [100]

~

By tamasic ego is meant the ego of weakness, self-depreciation, despondency, unbelief. The rajasic ego is puffed up with pride and self-esteem or stubbornly asserts itself at every step or else wherever it can; the tamasic ego on the contrary is always feeling, "I am weak, I am miserable, I have no capacity, I am not loved or chosen by the Divine, I am so bad and incapable—what can the Divine do for me?" or else, "I am specially chosen out for misfortune and suffering, all are preferred to me, all are progressing, I only am left behind, all abandons me, I have nothing before me but flight, death or disaster" etc., etc., or something or all of these things mixed together. Sometimes the rajasic and tamasic ahankar mix together and subtly support each other. In both cases it is the "I" that is making a row about itself and clouding the true vision. The true spiritual or psychic vision is this, "Whatever I may be, my soul is a child of the Divine and must reach the Divine sooner or later. I am imperfect but seek after the perfection of the Divine in me and that not I but the Divine Grace will bring about; if I keep to that, the Divine Grace itself will do all." The "I" has to take its proper place here as a small portion and instrument of the Divine, something that is nothing without the Divine but with the Grace can be everything that the Divine wishes it to be. [101]

Divine Love

The only remedy for all human suffering: divine love. [102]

~

Having tasted the sweetness of solitude and the Supreme Peace, a man is liberated from suffering and evil. [103]

~

Turn towards the Divine, all your sufferings will disappear. [104]

~

The divine Power in us uses all life as the means of this integral Yoga. Every experience and outer contact with our world-environment, however trifling or however disastrous, is used for the work, and every inner experience, even to the most repellent suffering or the most humiliating fall, becomes a step on the path to perfection. [105]

~

The only thing that you need is the support of the Divine, and you have it. Then you can't suffer. [106]

Three Steps for Overcoming Suffering

The higher self-knowledge begins therefore as soon as man has got beyond his preoccupation with the relation of Nature and God to his superficial being, his most apparent self. One step is to know that this life is not all, to get at the conception of his own temporal eternity, to realise, to become concretely aware of that subjective persistence which is called the immortality of the soul. When he knows that there are states beyond the material and lives behind and before him, at any rate a pre-existence and a subsequent existence, he is on the way to get rid of his temporal ignorance by enlarging himself beyond the immediate moments of Time into the possession of his own eternity. Another step forward is to learn that his surface waking state is only a small part of his being, to begin to fathom the abyss of the Inconscient and depths of the subconscious and subliminal and scale the heights of the superconscient; so he commences the removal of his psychological self-ignorance. A third step is to find out that there is something in him other than his instrumental mind, life and body, not only an immortal ever-developing individual soul that supports his nature but an eternal immutable self and spirit, and to learn what are the categories of his spiritual being, until he discovers that all in him is an expression of the spirit and distinguishes the link between his lower and his higher existence; thus he sets out to remove his constitutional self-ignorance. Discovering self and spirit he discovers God; he finds out that there is a Self beyond the temporal: he comes to the vision of that Self in the cosmic consciousness as the divine Reality behind Nature and this world of beings; his mind opens to the thought or the sense of the Absolute of whom self and the individual and the cosmos are so many faces; the cosmic, the egoistic, the original ignorance begin to lose the rigidness of their hold upon him. In his attempt to cast his existence into the mould of this enlarging self-knowledge his whole view and motive of life, thought and action are progressively modified and transformed; his practical ignorance of himself, his nature and his object of existence diminishes: he has set his step on the path which leads out of the falsehood and suffering of a limited and partial into the perfect possession and enjoyment of a true and complete existence. [107]

Pathway

Aspiration

Turn towards the Divine, all your sufferings will disappear. [108]

~

Turn your emotions towards the Divine, aspire for their purification; they will then become a help on the way and no longer a cause of suffering. [109]

~

Do not cherish suffering and suffering will leave you altogether. Suffering is far from being indispensable to progress. The greatest progress is made through a steady and cheerful equanimity. [110]

~

...whatever sufferings come on the path, are not too high a price for the victory that has to be won and, if they are taken in the right spirit, they become even a means towards the victory. [111]

~

In that balance we enter only positive pleasures on one side and discomfort and pain on the other; pain affects us more intensely because it is abnormal to our being, contrary to our natural tendency and is experienced as an outrage on our existence, an offence and external attack on what we are and seek to be. [112]

Rejection

There is no need of suffering. Refuse it when it comes. [113]

~

It is obvious that in the purity of its essence, only that which is perfectly divine can feel that suffering;.. when one is vigilant enough to refuse this mixture or at least to reduce it to a minimum, one soon realises that this divine compassion is based on a sublime and eternal joy which alone has the strength and the power to deliver the world from its ignorance and misery. [114]

~

Of course, you can use your reason, if you have one which works. You can make use of the reason and can tell yourself something which is very true: that in our being it is only egoism which always suffers, and that if there was no egoism there would be no suffering, and that if one wants the spiritual life, one must overcome his egoism. So the first thing to do is to look straight at this suffering, perceive to what an extent it is the expression of a very petty egoism and then sweep the place clean, make a clean ground and say, "I don't want this dirt, I am going to clean my inner chamber." [115]

~

We see it in the fact that men in periods of great excitement or high exaltation remain physically indifferent to pain or unconscious of pain under contacts which ordinarily would inflict severe torture or suffering. In many cases it is only when the nerves are able to reassert themselves and remind the mentality of its habitual obligation to suffer that the sense of suffering returns. But this return to the habitual obligation is not inevitable; it is only habitual. We see that in the phenomena of hypnosis not only can the hypnotised subject be successfully forbidden to feel the pain of a wound or puncture when in the abnormal state, but can be prevented with equal success from returning to his habitual reaction of suffering when he is awakened. [116]

~

Gita discourages any excess of violence done to oneself; for the self within is really the Godhead evolving, it is Krishna, it is the Divine; it has not to be troubled and tortured as the Titans of the world trouble and torture it, but to be increased, fostered, cherished, luminously opened to a divine light and strength and joy and wideness. It is not one's self, but the band of the spirit's inner enemies that we have to discourage, expel, slay upon the altar of the growth of the spirit; these can be ruthlessly excised, whose names are desire, wrath, inequality, greed, attachment to outward pleasures and pains, the cohort of usurping demons that are the cause of the soul's errors and sufferings. These should be regarded not as part of oneself but as intruders and perverters of our self's real and diviner nature; these have to be sacrificed in the harsher sense of the word, whatever pain in going they may throw by reflection on the consciousness of the seeker. [117]

Surrender

There is no reason why suffering should be indispensable for making progress... If there is confidence, if the mind and vital consent to surrender and have full faith and reliance, then there may be difficulties but there is no suffering. [118]

~

If there is confidence, if the mind and vital consent to surrender and have full faith and reliance, then there may be difficulties but there is no suffering. [119] All suffering is the sign that the surrender is not total. Then, when you feel in you a "bang", like that, instead of saying, "Oh, this is bad" or "This circumstance is difficult," you say, "My surrender is not perfect." Then it's all right. And then you feel the Grace that helps you and leads you, and you go on. And one day you emerge into that peace that nothing can trouble. You answer to all the contrary forces, the contrary movements, the attacks, the misunderstandings, the bad wills, with the same smile that comes from full confidence in the Divine Grace. And that is the only way out, there is no other. [120]

~

Having tasted the sweetness of solitude and the Supreme Peace, a man is liberated from suffering and evil, for he partakes of the sweetness of devotion to the Truth. [121]

~

The only thing that you need is the support of the Divine, and you have it. Then you can't suffer. [122]

Tools To Develop

Free and Unegoistic Mind

If and when Mind in man becomes capable of being free, unegoistic, in harmony with all other beings and with the play of the universal forces, the use and office of suffering diminishes, its raison d'être must finally cease to be and it can only continue as an atavism of Nature, a habit that has survived its use, a persistence of the lower in the as yet imperfect organisation of the higher. Its eventual elimination must be an essential point in the destined conquest of the soul over subjection to Matter and egoistic limitation in Mind. [123]

~

With us the freedom consists in freedom from the darkness, limitation, error, suffering, transience of the ignorant lower Nature, but also in a total surrender to the Divine. Free action is the action of the Divine in us and through us; no other action can be free. [124]

Psychic Being

The pure psychic being is of the essence of Ananda, it comes from the delight-soul in the universe; but the superficial heart of emotion is overborne by the conflicting appearances of the world and suffers many reactions of grief, fear, depression, passion, short-lived and partial joy. An equal heart is needed for perfection, but not only a passive equality; there must be the sense of a divine power making for good behind all experiences, a faith and will which can turn the poisons of the world to nectar, see the happier spiritual intention behind adversity, the mystery of love behind suffering, the flower of divine strength and joy in the seed of pain. This faith, kalyāṇa-śraddhā, is needed in order that the heart and the whole overt psychic being may respond to the secret divine Ananda and change itself into this true original essence. This faith and will must be accompanied by and open into an illimitable widest and intensest capacity for love. For the main business of the heart, its true function is love. [125]

~

The real Self is not anywhere on the surface but deep within and above. Within is the soul supporting an inner mind, inner vital, inner physical in which there is a capacity for universal wideness and with it for the things now asked for,—direct contact with the Truth of self and things, taste of a universal bliss, liberation from the imprisoned smallness and sufferings of the gross physical body. [126]

~

There is also the way of the psychic,—when the psychic being comes out in its inherent power, its consecration, adoration, love of the Divine, self-giving, surrender and imposes these on the mind, vital and physical consciousness and compels them to turn all their movements Godward. [127]

Knowledge and Divine Ananda

When desire ceases entirely, grief and all inner suffering also cease. The Vijnana takes up not only our parts of knowledge and will, but our parts of affection and delight and changes them into action of the divine Ananda. For if knowledge and force are the twin sides or powers of the action of consciousness, delight, Ananda—which is something higher than what we call pleasure—is the very stuff of consciousness and the natural result of the interaction of knowledge and will, force and self-awareness. Both pleasure and pain, both joy and grief are deformations caused by the disturbance of harmony between our consciousness and the force it applies, between our knowledge and will, a breaking up of their oneness by a descent to a lower plane in which they are limited, divided in themselves, restrained from their full and proper action, at odds with other-force, other-consciousness, other-knowledge, other-will. The Vijnana sets this to rights by the power of its truth and a wholesale restoration to oneness and harmony, to the Right and the highest Law. It takes up all our emotions and turns them into various forms of love and delight, even our hatreds, repulsions, causes of suffering. It finds out or reveals the meaning they missed and by missing it became the perversions they are; it restores our whole nature to the eternal Good. It deals similarly with our perceptions and sensations and reveals all the delight that they seek, but in its truth, not in any perversion and wrong seeking and wrong reception; it teaches even our lower impulses to lay hold on the Divine and Infinite in the appearances after which they run. All this is done not in the values of the lower being, but by a lifting up of the mental, vital, material into the inalienable purity, the natural intensity, the continual ecstasy, one yet manifold, of the divine Ananda. [128]

~

Wisdom guiding and impelling us will replace the perplexities and stumblings of the suffering and ignorant ego. [129]

Integration

For we are not merely embodied minds; there is a spiritual being, a spiritual principle, a spiritual plane of Nature. Into that we have to heighten our force of consciousness, to widen by that still more largely, even universally and infinitely, our range of being and our field of action, to take up by that our lower life and use it for greater ends and on a larger plan, in the light of the spiritual truth of existence. Our labour of mind and struggle of life cannot come to any solution until we have gone beyond the obsessing lead of an inferior Nature, integralised our natural being in the being and consciousness, learned to utilise our natural instruments by the force and for the joy of the Spirit. Then only can the constitutional ignorance, the ignorance of the real build of our existence from which we suffer, change into a true and effective knowledge of our being and becoming. [130]

Enlightened Compassion

the higher race will not feel the kind of egoistic, weak and sentimental pity which men call charity. This pity, which does more harm than good, will be replaced by a strong and enlightened compassion whose only purpose will be to provide a true remedy to suffering, not to perpetuate it. [131]

Religion and Suffering

Religion is the first attempt of man to get beyond himself and beyond the obvious and material facts of his existence. Its first essential work is to confirm and make real to him his subjective sense of an Infinite on which his material and mental being depends and the aspiration of his soul to come into its presence and live in contact with it. Its function is to assure him too of that possibility of which he has always dreamed, but of which his ordinary life gives him no assurance, the possibility of transcending himself and growing out of bodily life and mortality into the joy of immortal life and spiritual existence. It also confirms in him the sense that there are worlds or planes of existence other than that in which his lot is now cast, worlds in which this mortality and this subjection to evil and suffering are not the natural state, but rather bliss of immortality is the eternal condition. Incidentally, it gives him a rule of mortal life by which he shall prepare himself for immortality. He is a soul and not a body and his earthly life is a means by which he determines the future conditions of his spiritual being. Religion in fact is not knowledge, but a faith and aspiration; it is justified indeed both by an imprecise intuitive knowledge of large spiritual truths and by the subjective experience of souls that have risen beyond the ordinary life, but in itself it only gives us the hope and faith by which we may be induced to aspire to the intimate possession of the hidden tracts and larger realities of the Spirit. That we turn always the few distinct truths and the symbols or the particular discipline of a religion into hard and fast dogmas, is a sign that as yet we are only infants in the spiritual knowledge and are yet far from the science of the Infinite. [132]

~

In truth, this is the sure refuge, this is the sovereign refuge. To choose this refuge is to be liberated from all suffering. [133]

~

But this is not a safe refuge; this is not the supreme refuge. Coming to this refuge does not save a man from all sufferings. [134]

Overcoming Suffering in the Parts of the Being

Physical

The part that does not like suffering and would be glad to get rid of it is the physical consciousness, but the vital pushes it always and so it cannot escape. [135]

~

Pain of mind and body is a device of Nature, that is to say, of Force in her works, meant to subserve a definite transitional end in her upward evolution. The world is from the point of view of the individual a play and complex shock of multitudinous forces. In the midst of this complex play the individual stands as a limited constructed being with a limited amount of force exposed to numberless shocks which may wound, maim, break up or disintegrate the construction which he calls himself. [136]

~

The two absolutely indispensable things: keep a faith that nothing can shake, not even an apparently complete negation, even if you are suffering, even if you are miserable (the body, that is), even if you are tired—endure. Hold on tight and endure—have endurance. There. With that, it's all right. [137]

~

If one can do two things: either bring into oneself—for all nervous suffering, for example—bring into oneself a kind of immobility, as total as possible, at the place of pain, this has the effect of an anaesthetic. If one succeeds in bringing an inner immobility, an immobility of the inner vibrations, at the spot where one is suffering, it has exactly the same effect as an anaesthetic. It cuts off the contact between the place of pain and the brain, and once you have cut the contact, if you can keep this state long enough, the pain will disappear. You must form the habit of doing this.[138]

~

...if you succeed in establishing this immobility, you prevent it from vibrating, you prevent it from protesting. And what is remarkable is that if you do it fairly constantly, with sufficient perseverance, the sick nerve will die and you will not suffer at all any more. Because it was that which was suffering and when it is dead it does not suffer any longer. [139]

~

There are two ways to meet all that—first that of the Self, calm, equality, a spirit, a will, a mind, a vital, a physical consciousness that remain resolutely turned towards the Divine and unshaken by all suggestion of doubt, desire, attachment, depression, sorrow, pain, inertia. [140]

~

Not all human sufferings come from physical destitution and can be cured by material means─far from it. Bodily well-being does not inevitably bring peace and joy; and poverty is not necessarily a cause of misery, as is shown by the voluntary poverty of the ascetics of all countries and all ages, who found in their destitution the source and condition of a perfect peace and happiness. Whereas on the contrary, the enjoyment of worldly possessions, of all that material wealth can provide in the way of comfort and pleasure and external satisfaction is powerless to prevent one who possesses these things from suffering pain and sorrow. [141]

~

We may say in an absolute way that the remedy always goes together with the trouble. We could say that the cure for every suffering coexists with the suffering. [142]

~

Only, when one is not very much coddled, when one has a little endurance and decides within himself not to pay too much attention, quite remarkably the pain diminishes. And there are a number of illnesses or states of physical imbalance which can be cured simply by removing the effect, that is, by stopping the suffering. Usually it comes back because the cause is still there. If the cause of the illness is found and one acts directly on its cause, then one can be cured radically. But if one is not able to do that, one can make use of this influence, of this control over pain in order—by cutting off the pain or eliminating it or mastering it in oneself—to work on the illness. So this is an effect, so to say, from outside inwards; while the other is an effect from within outwards, which is much more lasting and much more complete. But the other also is effective. [143]

~

It is good for the physical to be more and more conscious, but it should not be overpowered by the things of which it becomes aware or badly affected or upset by them. A strong equality and mastery and detachment must come in the nerves and body as in the mind, which will enable the physical to know and contact these things without feeling any disturbance; it should know and be conscious and reject and throw away the pressure of the movements in the atmosphere, not merely feel them and suffer.[144]

~

When one experiments with the upward and the downward turnings, one sees that the bodily complaint as such has nothing to do with the pain. The body may suffer very much or not at all, although its condition is exactly the same. It is the turn of the consciousness that makes all the difference. [145]

Vital

Mostly however the constant recurrence of depression and despair or of doubt and revolt is due to a mental or vital formation which takes hold of the vital mind and makes it run round always in the same circle at the slightest provoking cause or even without cause. It is like an illness to which the body consents from habit and from belief in the illness even though it suffers from it, and once started the illness runs its habitual course unless it is cut short by some strong counteracting force. If once the body can withdraw its consent, the illness immediately or quickly ceases—that was the secret of the Coué system. So too if the vital mind withdraws its consent, refuses to be dominated by the habitual suggestions and the habitual movements, these recurrences of depression and despair can be made soon to cease. But it is not easy for this mind, once it has got into the habit of consent, even a quite passive and suffering and reluctant consent, to cancel the habit and get rid of the black circle. It can be done easily only when the mind refuses any longer to believe in the suggestions or accept the ideas or feelings that start the circle. [146]

~

Do not listen to the clamour of the adverse vital Force which has been attacking you, its reasonings or its wrong emotional suggestions—it only wants you to fall from happiness, to suffer and to descend into a lower consciousness and lose your progress. [147]

Mental

The most material consciousness, the most material mind, is in the habit of having to be whipped into acting, into making effort and moving forward, ...So it needs very concrete, very tangible and VERY REPEATED experiences to be convinced that behind all its difficulties, there is a Grace; behind all its failures, there is the Victory; behind all its pain and suffering and contradictions, there is Ananda. Of all the efforts, this is the one that has to be repeated most often: you are constantly forced to stop, put an end to, drive away, convert a pessimism, a doubt or a totally defeatist imagination. [148]

~

You can make use of the reason and can tell yourself something which is very true: that in our being it is only egoism which always suffers, and that if there was no egoism there would be no suffering, and that if one wants the spiritual life, one must overcome his egoism. So the first thing to do is to look straight at this suffering, perceive to what an extent it is the expression of a very petty egoism and then sweep the place clean, make a clean ground and say, "I don't want this dirt, I am going to clean my inner chamber." [149]

~

If Ignorance disappears into Knowledge, evil and falsehood can no longer endure: for both are fruits of unconsciousness and wrong consciousness and, if true or whole consciousness is there replacing Ignorance, they have no longer any basis for their existence. There can therefore be no absolute of falsehood, no absolute of evil; these things are a by-product of the world-movement: the sombre flowers of falsehood and suffering and evil have their root in the black soil of the Inconscient. [150]

~

Suffering inflicted on others is not a good base on which to build spiritual realisation. [151]

Common Errors

Disintegration

Two outstanding beings at the two extremes of thought and action, two of the finest human souls expressing themselves in sensitive and compassionate hearts, received the same psychic shock when they came into contact with the misery of men. Both devoted their whole lives to finding the remedy for the suffering of their fellow-men, and both believed they had found it. But because their solutions, which may be described as contraries, were each in its own domain incomplete and partial, both of them failed to relieve the suffering of humanity. [152]

Liberation

At the other extreme of consciousness stands the Buddha with his pure and sublime compassion. For him the suffering arising out of life could be abolished by the abolition of life; for life and the world are the outcome of the desire to be, the fruit of ignorance. Abolish desire, eliminate ignorance, and the world will disappear and with it all suffering and misery. In a great effort of spiritual aspiration and silent concentration he elaborated his discipline, one of the most uplifting and the most effective disciplines ever given to those who are eager for liberation. [153]

~

Neither can the other solution, escape, the solution of the Buddha, present a practical remedy to the problem. For even if we suppose that a very large number of individuals are capable of practising the discipline and achieving the final liberation, this can in no way abolish suffering from earth and cure others of it, all the others who are still incapable of following the path that leads to Nirvana. [154]

~

"Change your consciousness and what appears to you unfortunate will not so appear to you any longer." The Buddha taught that if you are free from desire, things that seemed to you unfortunate would no longer seem to you unfortunate at all. [155]

Suicide:NO

Suicide is the worst way that anyone could take to get out of a spiritual difficulty. It only increases and prolongs the difficulty; for it continues it after death, the struggle, the suffering in an exaggerated form and it has to be faced again in another life. The dissolution of the physical elements into Nature would leave the mind and vital as they are, with all their problems present and unsolved. [156]


Content curated by Luna


Read Summary of Suffering

Dear reader, if you notice any error in the paragraph numbers in the hyperlinks, please let us know by dropping an email at integral.edu.in@gmail.com

  1. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/resistances-sufferings-and-falls#p9
  2. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/delight-of-existence-the-solution#p13
  3. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/resistances-sufferings-and-falls#p12
  4. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/30/three-experiences-of-the-inner-being#p9
  5. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/12/helping-humanity#p8
  6. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/delight-of-existence-the-problem#p7
  7. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/22/the-gnostic-being#p25
  8. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/22/the-divine-life#p12
  9. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/the-divine-and-the-undivine#p19
  10. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/the-hostile-forces-and-the-difficulties-of-yoga#p26
  11. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/the-right-attitude-towards-difficulties#p3
  12. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/28/the-hostile-forces-and-hostile-beings#p15
  13. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/15/5-february-1956#p2
  14. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/illness-and-health#p3
  15. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/17-november-1954#p19
  16. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/peace-the-basis-of-the-sadhana#p14
  17. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/illness-and-health#p106
  18. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/depression-and-despondency#p69
  19. http://incarnateword.in/agenda/07/september-28-1966#p19
  20. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/bhakti-yoga-and-vaishnavism#p29
  21. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/sorrow-and-suffering#p7
  22. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/sorrow-and-suffering#p10
  23. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/wrong-movements-of-the-vital#p50
  24. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/17-november-1954#p20
  25. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/sorrow-and-suffering#p6
  26. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/28/the-physical-consciousness#p8
  27. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/24/the-instruments-of-the-spirit#p4
  28. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/depression-and-despondency#p61
  29. http://incarnateword.in/agenda/13/february-5-1972#p
  30. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/resistances-sufferings-and-falls#p8
  31. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/resistances-sufferings-and-falls#p8
  32. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/15/5-february-1956#p5
  33. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/calm#p2
  34. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/26-may-1954#p22
  35. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/05/9-december-1953#p30
  36. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/the-difficulties-of-human-nature#p43
  37. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/15/5-february-1956#p2
  38. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/15/5-february-1956#p4
  39. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/15/5-february-1956#p3
  40. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/04/20-january-1951#p18
  41. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/28/morality-and-yoga#p45
  42. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/04/7-april-1951#p51
  43. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/03/the-awakened-one-the-buddha#p21
  44. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/helping-others-and-the-world#p23
  45. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/28/death#p5
  46. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/24/the-liberation-of-the-spirit#p7
  47. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/the-divine-grace-and-difficulties#p12
  48. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/28/spiritual-evolution-and-the-supramental#p27
  49. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/delight-of-existence-the-problem#p8
  50. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/24/the-liberation-of-the-spirit#p8
  51. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/28/the-problem-of-suffering-and-evil#p4
  52. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/15/5-february-1956#p4
  53. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/the-divine-and-the-undivine#p18
  54. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/15/5-february-1956#p3
  55. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/22/the-ascent-towards-supermind#p17
  56. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/28/rebirth#p30
  57. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/09/13-february-1957#p1
  58. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/bhakti-yoga-and-vaishnavism#p36
  59. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/17-november-1954#p19
  60. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/bhakti-yoga-and-vaishnavism#p17
  61. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/04/7-april-1951#p66
  62. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/04/7-april-1951#p67
  63. http://incarnateword.in/agenda/07/september-28-1966#p18
  64. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/the-difficulties-of-yoga#p3
  65. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/bhakti-yoga-and-vaishnavism#p21
  66. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/delight-of-existence-the-problem#p5
  67. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/resistances-sufferings-and-falls#p21
  68. .http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/resistances-sufferings-and-falls#p22
  69. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/mistakes-can-be-effaced#p10
  70. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/03/happiness#p11
  71. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/the-knot-of-matter#p11
  72. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/the-ego-and-the-dualities#p11
  73. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/the-divine-soul#p13
  74. http://incarnateword.in/agenda/02/september-30-1961#p9
  75. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/suffering#p4
  76. http://incarnateword.in/agenda/13/february-7-1972#p2
  77. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/the-divine-grace-and-difficulties#p12
  78. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/delight-of-existence-the-problem#p6
  79. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/delight-of-existence-the-problem#p7
  80. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/05/9-december-1953#p22
  81. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/delight-of-existence-the-problem#p5
  82. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/delight-of-existence-the-problem#p8
  83. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/17-november-1954#p16
  84. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/the-origin-and-remedy-of-falsehood-error-wrong-and-evil#p4
  85. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/03/punishment#p16
  86. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/helping-others-and-the-world#p23
  87. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/equality-the-chief-support#p18
  88. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/the-cosmic-illusion-mind-dream-and-hallucination#p6
  89. http://incarnateword.in/agenda/07/september-28-1966#p23
  90. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/helping-others-and-the-world#p19
  91. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/30/the-psychic-and-spiritual-realisations#p19
  92. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/desire#p8
  93. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/28/the-problem-of-suffering-and-evil#p5
  94. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/the-divine-grace-and-guidance#p29
  95. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/the-divine-grace-and-guidance#p31
  96. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/depression-and-despondency#p49
  97. http://incarnateword.in/agenda/08/march-2-1967#p20
  98. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/depression-and-despondency#p70
  99. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/09/13-february-1957#p3
  100. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/the-right-attitude-towards-difficulties#p12
  101. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/dealing-with-hostile-attacks#p51
  102. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/suffering#p6
  103. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/03/happiness#p9
  104. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/suffering#p7
  105. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/23/the-synthesis-of-the-systems#p13
  106. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/15/11-may-1967#p24
  107. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/22/the-progress-to-knowledge-god-man-and-nature#p18
  108. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/suffering#p7
  109. ://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/bhakti-devotion-worship#p3
  110. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/suffering#p1
  111. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/resistances-sufferings-and-falls#p22
  112. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/delight-of-existence-the-problem#p5
  113. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/resistances-sufferings-and-falls#p14
  114. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/15/5-february-1956#p5
  115. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/17-november-1954#p17
  116. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/delight-of-existence-the-solution#p12
  117. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/23/the-sacrifice-the-triune-path-and-the-lord-of-the-sacrifice#p4
  118. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/resistances-sufferings-and-falls#p15
  119. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/resistances-sufferings-and-falls#p15
  120. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/15/11-may-1967#p3
  121. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/03/happiness#p9
  122. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/15/11-may-1967#p24
  123. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/delight-of-existence-the-solution#p13
  124. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/christianity-and-theosophy#p8
  125. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/24/the-power-of-the-instruments#p12
  126. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/30/the-psychic-and-spiritual-realisations#p20
  127. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/resistances-sufferings-and-falls#p7
  128. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/23/the-conditions-of-attainment-to-the-gnosis#p10
  129. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/23/standards-of-conduct-and-spiritual-freedom#p30
  130. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/22/out-of-the-sevenfold-ignorance-towards-the-sevenfold-knowledge#p7
  131. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/12/helping-humanity#p24
  132. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/23/the-lower-triple-purusha#p3
  133. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/03/the-awakened-one-the-buddha#p14
  134. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/03/the-awakened-one-the-buddha#p11
  135. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/sorrow-and-suffering#p8
  136. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/delight-of-existence-the-solution#p13
  137. http://incarnateword.in/agenda/05/october-7-1964#p3
  138. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/17-november-1954#p22
  139. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/17-november-1954#p23
  140. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/resistances-sufferings-and-falls#p7
  141. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/12/helping-humanity#p8
  142. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/12/helping-humanity#p24
  143. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/17-november-1954#p21
  144. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/food#p29
  145. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/15/wrong-thinking-and-illness#p11
  146. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/30/the-emergence-or-coming-forward-of-the-psychic#p45
  147. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/dealing-with-hostile-attacks#p41
  148. http://incarnateword.in/agenda/05/october-7-1964#p22
  149. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/17-november-1954#p17
  150. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/the-origin-and-remedy-of-falsehood-error-wrong-and-evil#p2
  151. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/helping-others-and-the-world#p1
  152. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/12/helping-humanity#p3
  153. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/12/helping-humanity#p6
  154. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/12/helping-humanity#p9
  155. https://incarnateword.in/cwm/04/7-april-1951#p51
  156. http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/dealing-with-depression-and-despondency#p59