Shri Prashant: Why am I so full of angst? I like the way he has used this word ‘angst’ because it conveys that suffering quite forthrightly. There is certain, direct pain contained in this word.
Man is capable of existing as a dumb stone. And a stone experiences no angst, no angst at all. You pick it up, you throw it away, it is alright. You decorate it and make it into a deity, it is alright. And you reduce it into pieces, it is still alright! There is no angst.
The stone experiences no angst. Whatsoever happens with it, is just alright. Then there is the man who is just waking up, just waking up, semiconscious, he experiences suffering. He experiences a lot of suffering.
Poets, writers and philosophers, they literally bleed from their eyes. They really suffer. Then there is this man, who has woken up fully, ‘The Buddha’. He again does not suffer.
Suffering is only in that ‘in-between state of semi consciousness’. ‘I am not fully conscious, I am not a stone, so I am not dead, and I am not a Buddha either, I am somewhere in between. Life is making a sandwich of me.‘ All the suffering lies in this in-betweeness. This in-betweeness is about not realizing your potential fully.
As a human being, your potential is to be fully intelligent, awake and conscious. Had you been totally conscious, there would have been no angst. Your curse is that you are not fully unconscious, you are semiconscious. In this semi consciousness, there is a lot of suffering. You are just waking up. Kabir says-
“सुखिया सब संसार है, खावे और सोवे, दुखिया दास क़बीर है, जागे और रोये”
(The whole world is happy, consumes and sleeps. It is the Kabir, who is awake and weeps.)
He is waking up and hence he is crying. The rest of the world is peacefully sleeping, eating. Eating means consuming, consuming everything, consuming relationships, not only food. The world is immersed in it’s ignorance and for it ignorance is bliss. It experiences no suffering.
The one who starts getting conscious starts suffering that is the reason the Buddha had to assert. What is his first noble truth?
That ‘the world is full of suffering.‘ He had to tell people that the world is full of suffering. Why? Because ninety-nine percent of people do not know that they are suffering.
And this is a highly strange situation that someone else has to come and tell you that you are suffering.
You are privileged, you are lucky that you can ‘see’ that you are suffering.
Everybody is suffering but they do not know that they are suffering. It’s like this hand may have a lot of pain, but the nerves have become dead so that the hand does not experience any suffering? Most people live this life of numbness that they don’t even know that they are suffering.
An experience of suffering is the sign of awakening.
Is this clear? An experience of suffering is surely a sign of that you are waking up.
When you wake up, the first thing that you experience is angst.
Now, if you want to get rid of that angst then there are two options.
The first is to slip back, become the stone again like the rest of the world, and the second is to move upwards, become more conscious.
Which option do you want to choose?
Both options will reduce your suffering.
If you have suffering, become a stone and this stone has no suffering, or you can become all the more conscious, that can also reduce your suffering. Which way do you want to go?
Listeners: Move upwards.
SP: When this angst comes to you, don’t be afraid. It is a welcome sign and it is an auspicious thing; because only the one who is waking up, who has become a little sensitive, only he experiences suffering. The numb one, the dead one experiences no suffering. This does not mean that you become attached to suffering that, ‘Suffering means waking up, so I am waking up!‘
Do not just keep waking up but ‘wake up’ and give way to a completely awake state.
~Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session at: Why am I full of suffering?