Monday, September 26, 2005

Transcending Suffering

Transcending Suffering

"I am not the breath; I am not the body, neither bones nor flesh. I am not the mind or feeling. I am That which is behind the breath, body, mind and feeling."

- Paramahansa Yogananda

All of our sufferings are due to the fact that we completely associate ourselves with our physical existence. We worry about growing old, losing our hair, gaining weight; we worry about making enough money to lead a respectable life; we worry about finding a suitable life partner, we worry about the future of our children and we worry about a thousand and one things that affect our appearance, image and ego.

We have to go through all this suffering because it is (unfortunately) the only way for us to realize that ultimately these things are not important. It's not enough for us to just read the book of some wise man and then try and convince ourselves that this is indeed so, instead we have to experience all the suffering ourselves to be able to grasp the actual root cause of it all.

To overcome suffering, we have to come to the realization that suffering itself is but a transient state associated with our body and mind. How desperately do we cling on to a specific image of ourselves: a young, fit and beautiful body, a life of material comforts, a respectable social position!

To achieve all that, we have to work hard and suffer. Sometimes in our desperation, we resort to bending the rules: we lie, we stab people's back, we hurt our loved ones. We suffer so much just to gain the pleasure of pride and respect. And when we have finally achieved what comes through so much sacrifice, we realize that we have created a different set of problem: we have to maintain what we have achieved (because we still attach importance to them), so we continue suffering, ad infinitum.

Only after we have come to a point where we realize that these things are all empty and that we have finally outgrown all these childish pursuits, do we realize how foolish we have been to have suffered so much for them. Then only are we mature enough to move on to the next stage of our evolution--one that is beyond pain and pleasure, one which lies beyond the body, mind and feeling, one which lies in the realm where suffering and enjoyment, as we know it, has no meaning at all.

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