Why do we suffer needlessly?

Question:  In this world for us to prioritize what is important for us and what is not. So this is what we had said and we had asked him that sometimes we are not able to prioritize that, so therefore, we get lost in whatever work we do. What is the solution?

Speaker: The whole thing begins by asking a bit clearer. What is the right thing to do? How does one know that what is the right action at any given moment? This is a very important question, very tremendous question because every moment we are in situations that demand decisions. How does one know what is the right thing to do? How does one know when to submerge himself more in his job and when to write his resignation? And as we and Babu Ji (referring to the listener) were talking, we said that both can be indications of Mukti (liberation).

If you are deeply submerged, immersed in what you are doing  and making a presentation or writing a file, that is also moksha (liberation) because the mind is not divided and if you know that this place is no more for you and you are writing your resignation that is also Mukti – liberation. Both are liberation.

But how does one know when to make the presentation and when to write the resignation?

How does one know what he’s asking you to do? Because we do not seem to have a clear line of communication. There is too much of noise intervening, and His messages are sabotaged, corrupted and misinterpreted. So, I too express my inability, as a human being, we all are handicapped in some way. We can look only at objects. These are things that we were just discussing.

Nobody can ever keep Brahm on this table. Nobody has ever seen the colour of Atman.

How to have direct communication then with Aatman?

How to know from Atman, what is the right action?

How to know from Truth, what is the command of Truth?

So, I said that probably knowing in an affirmative way what Truth is asking is difficult. Far easier it is to know what not to do. Far easier it is to see that what disturbs your essential peace is surely not for you.  What makes you move deeper and deeper into the whole network, rather the quagmire of thought in which you keep sinking, even as you try to come out of it, you keep sinking. So if there are situations like these, if there are people like these, then surely these are not Godly. These have to be avoided. One’s center is not of disturbance, I suppose we don’t need a discussion on that, right? On that much we all certainly agree in a very intuitive way, not even intuitive, pre-intuitive way – it is deeper than intuition. Our center is not of disturbance, and if our center is not of disturbance then how can something that keeps disturbing us, be the right action for us? Be the right choice for us? Our center is not of attachment or hatred. Neither of attachment nor of hatred. And if our center is not of hatred then how can an action prompted by hatred be right action? Or prompted by attachment.

Now there is no proof to ascertain that our center is not of disturbance. Somebody can come up and argue that my personal center is of disturbance. And I am sure about it and I don’t want to get into an argument because it is my personal center. He can surely argue, right? My thing! My assertion! It’s my center. Who are you to teach me? All right, we will not argue. Why argue? One’s center is not of argument either. So why argue so much?

One can lovingly say a few things. They will resonate a few chords. Those who have to understand will understand. None of us is condemned to torture himself. This again needs no proof that Truth and Love go together. Which is colloquially called as God is love. If God is love then surely life is not meant to be suffering. This means that all suffering is inessential and self-imposed.  So one should have a distaste for suffering. If there is a situation, or a place, or a thought, or a person or anything, that continuously puts me in suffering, it can’t be good for me how so ever right it sounds. All the morality of the world, all the religions of the world might tell me that it is the right thing, but if it’s hurting me deep within it cannot be really, really right for me. It might seem to becalm me on the surface but if it’s leading to an agitation that shows up in my dreams then it cannot be the right thing for me. And one should not try to justify these things, we justify too much. In that sense, kids and animals are far better than us, they don’t justify they don’t like something they don’t like it.  We don’t like things and yet we keep pressurising ourselves by justifying and rationalising. So, I was just submitting that if God is love, life cannot be suffering. That’s not how the Master planner would have planned it out. You remember all those stories right, how he planned the whole thing. All right those are just stories. But to take the example of those stories, surely in those stories it’s not mentioned that man was created to suffer. So suffering is not our nature.

We say Sat Chit Anand. Do we say dukkha (sorrow) is our nature? And if there is so much of dukkha (sorrow), simply reject it. Why do we feel obliged to keep suffering? We are in jobs that really suck the life out of us. We live in neighbourhoods that are so inappropriate. We keep watching T.V. channels that should never have been subscribed to in the first place. We have friend circles where in people do not really deserve to be called friends.

Why do we keep tolerating them?

Why do we keep inflicting torture upon ourselves?


Why can’t we ask ourselves this simple question that is this life designed to be suffering?

When we look at our face in the mirror why can’t we ask ourselves that why should my face look like this? Why should my eyes be so heavy? Why should my shoulders be dropping? Sulking faces. Remember those emoticons that we have these days in phones, which one of them would describe us? The one that has this (depicting horns with hands). Kids are not born like this, are they? Why should we die like that? We have become resistant to Lightness and Joy. You know what, when out of chance, out of Grace, something good happens to us, we start feeling suspicious. There must be something fishy. How am I not feeling tensed today? There must be some trap, some fine print. Why does this person seem to be saying all the right things? I am feeling so peaceful – let me check my pocket, surely somebody is out to rob me. It should be heavier than this. We should have a distaste for suffering and a tremendous liking for Joy, but we have been trained to have a taste for suffering and a suspicion towards Joy. It is available, whenever it comes and knocks, we say something is fishy, something fishy, something is wrong somewhere. Have you not seen how people accept suffering so easily? How all the channels are filled with the bad news? We are so open to receiving bad news.

If you are told that there is an emergency call, you will not think that some greatly enlightening news might be on its way. The first thought that would come to you is some mishap, right?  We are all the time open to torture. We were in Mukteshwar and there we were meeting the Saints – the Bhakti Saints of the 17th,18th and the 16th century – and one of them was saying that just as the fish is prepared to give up its life the moment it leaves the Ocean, let me stop living the moment I leave you. Why can’t it be so simple? No compromises. I have been born in the Ocean.

Chuang Tzu was saying ‘Man is born in Tao’.

I am born in the Ocean, I am born in Joy and I will live in Joy. And if you force my hand too much, then I would rather not live.

A man who can say this that I would rather not live than accept needless suffering – goes past suffering. And suffering is needless. One can even turn the whole thing around that what is needless is suffering. There is no suffering that is essential. Let nobody say that yes I am suffering but here is a justification – It is my duty to suffer. No, no way. Show me one scripture that says that it is your duty to suffer.

My only duty, if there can be a duty at all, is being devoted to the Truth. And when you are devoted to the Truth, there is Joy in return, not suffering.

Your only duty is complete Surrender to the Absolute.


And the absolute does not shower tortures, the absolute is…, Have you read that he’s a sadist? Any scripture? Sadist God? God is love, but life is suffering! – show me, how? God is Joy, but life is suffering – exactly how?  And we train ourselves to think that way, don’t we? – Tolerate! Adjust! Compromise!

Listener 1: Sir, whenever something bad happens, I normally say that maybe this is the outcome of my doings, so I take it in my stride. So even if there is suffering, then I just say – Ok! I’m getting back to what I have done. So it is a good attitude or a bad attitude?

Speaker: Suffering is of various kinds. And the mind has various responses to them. A bad throat is surely not pleasant. But from where do I respond to it? From where do I respond to it? From a point of disturbance or from a point of devotion? As you sit in front of me, your Joy is my Joy. My only duty at this time is to be devoted to you, or should I rather be devoted to this disturbance, this thing – the throat and the chest. Even in the middle of most demanding situations, there is something else that is more demanding.

Even when suffering seems to become a high priority, there is always a Higher priority.

Once I said, if one has to be sad, then be Joyfully sad.

There is no moment where the life can dominate you so much that the material and the situations become everything for you. And when you remember— in the middle of suffering, in the thick of suffering — that there is something else that is more important, then you have already reduced suffering to a Number 2 position. And to put suffering in the Number 2 position is to not to suffer.

When do you suffer?

When suffering becomes important to you, that is when you suffer.

If you have something in the throat but it’s not important to you, are you really suffering? Are you really suffering? The body hardly ever suffers, it is the mind that suffers. What would happen to this throat while I go to sleep? Maharishi was so fond of asking what happens to all your problems in Sushupti (sleeping state)? If your problems are really so important where do they go away in Sushupti (sleeping state)? Surely they are a product of your consciousness. They come back only when you become conscious in the Jagrat (waking state) mode. So if that is the worth of these problems that a mere sleep can erase them at least for a while, then why do I need to give these problems the top priority? The mind will say – No, no, these problems are very important; all right, they are very important, so I will give them the second highest priority. Agreed! They are extremely important so I raise their status from the 5th number to the number 2, but never to?

Listeners: 1.

Speaker: Number 1. When something is not important, place it at number 10, number 20, number 500. When something becomes a matter of life and death, place it at number 2, but for God’s sake, keep God at number 1. You will not suffer. It is difficult I know, when the nose is running, it is difficult.


~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Prashant Tripathi at Maharishi Raman Kendra, Delhi: Why do we suffer needlessly?

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1: All displacement from the Present is suffering

Article 2: Awakening begins with suffering

Article 3: A relationship born out of loneliness will cause suffering to you and the other


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