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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Spirituality of suffering

This post is the continuation of my previous post 'How am I coping ?'

I am surprisingly not angry with God. My definition of God is different and hence I didn’t feel that God had betrayed me. I did pray to God to save my little ones; I cried aloud when I was left alone in the hospital in the middle of the night, but I knew in my heart of hearts that I should ask for the strength to bear whatever comes my way , instead of asking for something which doesn’t have any meaning.  I have always felt much closer to the super power when I am in pain than when I am in joy. I find comfort in the warmth of God when I am in pain – just like a child finds comfort in his mother’s lap when it is ill.

Is there an explanation for the suffering we underwent? We needed a little one in our life and we tried our level best to make our desire come true. A baby is something most couples get very easily but we needed to fight hard for our rightful desire. We fought happily , putting in all our best efforts – and yet we ended up with nothing but pain and broken heart. Is it possible to lead a life free of suffering?

Buddhism says that desire leads to suffering. When we desire something , we get attached to it. Nothing in this world is permanent and since we get attached to impermanent things , we are bound to suffer when we lose them. I want to have children. Although it is a rightful desire it does lead to suffering. I wouldn’t suffer so much if I didn’t desire children and if I hadn’t developed an attachment to my kids. While some humans are ready to throw away their newly born children in the garbage can without a pang of remorse, I suffered a hell of a lot of pain when I lost my babies , who were not even completely formed.

But is it easy to let go of my desire to have children just because of the fear of suffering? If I let go of the desire to have children I might not suffer emotionally, physically and financially, but will I be happy? Definitely not! Although a life free of suffering seems to be happy , this is not true. When you want to be free of suffering , you must have the courage to let go of happiness too. Suffering and happiness are inseparable. When you think clearly , it becomes clear that whatever brings you happiness is exactly that which brings you pain and suffering.  If we need happiness we need to accept suffering too.

Is it possible to let go of desires? Of course not - even a saint’s action is motivated by his desire to attain moksha (heaven) and to lessen suffering. So, a desire is the driving force for any action (both good and bad).  If we do not desire anything, we are most likely to lose the joy of living. Is it possible to desire and yet not suffer? Bhagavad Gita says it is possible and shows the way too. A desire leads to an action and if we detach ourselves from the outcome of that action we can escape from suffering. But we need a lot of mental discipline to achieve such a detached state of mind.  In the Bhagavad Geetha , Arjuna was told:

Be intent on action,
not on the fruits of action;
avoid attraction to the fruits
and attachment to inaction!
Perform actions, firm in discipline,
relinquishing attachment;
be impartial to failure and success this
equanimity is called discipline
                               - Bhagavad Gita

Bhagavad Gita also shuns attachment to inaction. In short, inaction is not the solution to escaping attachment and the ensuing pain and suffering. Inaction just implies there is no more life. Inaction is the sign of death. Instead, following our rightful desires, in a rightful manner and being indifferent to the outcome of our actions will protect us from pain and suffering. If we could achieve this state of mind, it is a form of immortality. During physical death our body is destroyed but our soul remains unaffected. On the other hand, our spirit dies everyday due to emotional assaults we face. If we become indifferent to pain and suffering , our soul reaches a state of bliss, a state of immortality! Perhaps this what ‘moksha’ (heaven) is, which many religions advocate as the final destination of human existence! This means that heaven cannot be a place we go to after our physical demise, it is a state of mind which must be achieved when we are alive.

In the next post I will talk about how to cope with suffering.


  1. What happened to you was unfair. And theres nothing wrong in telling Him or asking why me...its all part of you're grieving process. I pray that the coming year brings you loads of reason to smile. For the time being...heres a lovely song for you. Enjoy....and think of you guys in our prayers. Love this song :)

  2. If you do want to go down this route (achieve detachment while doing all you can to achieve your goals), just wanting to be this way is never enough; although, I have to say, the knocks we receive along the way do engender a degree of detachment.

    My mom, who probably has gone further down this path that anybody else I know in real life, practices yoga/pranayama--- it takes serious time, dedication, and discipline, but appears to be highly rewarding.

    Aside from all this, I hope time works its magic on you, and that the next practical steps go as smoothly as possible.

  3. Very thought-provoking; I have been thinking a lot about this too. Actually you are right that inaction is not the solution to end suffering. It's unrealistic to detach ourselves from everything. Well, I guess we need the strength to endure the suffering then.


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