Question: Is suffering necessary to reach the Truth? Once I have identified pain and fear, or something like this, where I know that it is creating unpleasant situation or suffering for me, what are the next ways for me to be this….peaceful. What is next?
Acharya Prashant Ji: A lot of suffering is just unnecessary. If it is unnecessary, give it up. A part of it is necessary. If it is necessary, go through it.
We can see the next question coming. What is the next question?
Listener: How do we know which part of the suffering is necessary, and which part is unnecessary?
Acharya ji: How do we know which part of the suffering is necessary, and which part is unnecessary?
You see, you move about like a drunkard on the road, and get hit or keep hitting, and abuse and get abused, and blow up your money, and all of that has a suffering component attached to it. That is unnecessary. Even if you suffer for a thousand years, you won’t be spiritually elevated. Right?
If you get cursed by a thousand men, for a thousand years, it won’t elevate your spiritual status, even a little. So that kind of suffering is totally foolish, just give it up. You don’t need to suffer. Ego finds a perverse pleasure, even in suffering.
People meet me, and so many of them say that all the great Yogis and Rishis(Sages), they suffered so much, and that is why they arrived at greatness. To this, I said that, not everybody who suffers, arrives at greatness. There has to be a particular quality, even in suffering. Not all suffering is necessary. Most of human suffering, is totally unnecessary. Give it up!
A monk met me once, I was in Dharamshala at that time. Had a very long conversation with him, he had come to visit. It’s a cold place, Dharamshala. And the fellow would be, always, in just one piece of cloth. I said to him, “Why are you doing this to yourself?” He replied, “Suffering is necessary.” I asked him, “Are you sure that this kind of suffering will lead you somewhere?”
But he was very determined. He was a senior monk, and he had done that all his life. It was very difficult for him to accept that all the suffering that he had accumulated, rather earned over his lifetime, is needless. It’s needless!
Technology is good. Science has provided man with medicine. All that is not just hot air, all that is meaningful. If you are having a great headache, don’t tell me that your peace won’t be disturbed. If modern medicine can help you get rid of physical disorders at least, that helps. No point quoting again and again, that you are the Atman, and nothing but the Atman, so no migraine, or no headache affects you.
Those who have headaches and migraines, know that these do affect. Keeping the migraine upon you, and saying that suffering helps, and suffering cleanses and purifies, is non-sensical. Give it up!
And then there is legitimate, and genuine suffering, that comes to you, in the process of self-realisation. You will have to go through it.
I will give an example. You think of yourself as a very worthy man. You think of yourself as an honest man. You think of yourself as a loving father, or a loving son, or a loving husband. Or you think of yourself as devoted wife, or a caring mother, or a loving daughter. Something.
The more you open your eyes in the spiritual sense, the more you realise, that you have been exploiting others, just every bit, as much as others have been exploiting everybody else. And then, it is not pleasant to come up on this realisation.
What I am saying is, that awareness brings suffering, in it’s wake. You cannot wake up, and not suffer. this is what I am calling as ‘genuine suffering’. And many people prefer not to wake up, just because they want to avoid the genuine suffering as well.
And, I assure you, what you call as ‘self-realisation’, is never going to be pleasant.
It’s not going to be blissful or something. It’s always a bit of a heartbreak.
One sees the futility of one’s life.
One sees that how tremendously misled, one has been. And all that hits the ego.
One gets hurt.
It is never pleasant to get hurt.
But one has to pass through that. One has to let that suffering come, and one has stand very vulnerable to it. One has to bow her head down. One has to say, “I see that I have been not only blind, but I have been needlessly blind. All my life, I have just deceived myself.” One’s self-esteem falls into pieces. One has to be prepared for all that. And all that, I said, entails suffering.
You will not reach Truth, with your ego intact.
Listener: To realise one thing, like somebody realises in one instance, I take ten-eleven instances, and then also I get half the part of it. It happens often. How do I reduce this gap, or time? Why do I need to get hurt so much, that I lose everything, and then only I realise?
Acharya ji: Love yourself more. Love yourself more. We have been taught to hate ourselves. We have been taught to hate ourselves, and therefore, love the world.
When you look at a nice shirt, what do you say? “Let me wear this shirt, this shirt will add value to me.” So, what do you hate, and what do you love? You despise yourself. You say, “I am of inferior value.” You think of even a shirt, that can add value to you, don’t you? And therefore, when you find people wearing expensive shirts, you look upto them.
We have been taught to look down upon ourselves.
Love yourself. Respect yourself.
And then you will not accept hurt.
And then, you will not be prone to inviting hurt.
We do not have basic, simple, innocent, self-love. We keep inviting hurt, and equally we are afraid of hurt.
Loving yourself is very different from improving yourself, or adding value to yourself. In fact, they are opposite in a sense. Understand this. I hope you don’t misinterpret me. By loving yourself, I do not mean that you should wear the best saree – “Because I am loving myself so much, so I am gifting myself the best saree.” No, no, no!
Loving yourself means, that you look upto yourself, and respect yourself, already as you are. You tell yourself, that it is not the world that will add value to me. The value resides within.”
O! The value does not reside, even in this structure of flesh and bones. It is somewhere else that the value resides. The value resides in neither in this(the flesh), or in this(the mind), nor in all that(the world outside). It is somewhere else that the value resides. And that somewhere else, is not a distant point. That somewhere else is, in here(the heart). And if it is in here, I love myself. Why do I love myself? Because that valuable one is, right in here.
Acharya ji: I love myself because, this structure itself is the abode of the valuable one. I do not love the structure. The structure will fall into pieces. The structure might get killed tomorrow, who knows?
That is self-love! Love yourself a lot.
Listener: It seems too far.
Acharya ji: It is not too far. It is your natural state. It seems far, only because you have come too far from yourself. So return!
And returning is easier than coming so far. Just don’t remain too dependent on this and that.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: Suffer, but suffer rightly || Acharya Prashant (2018)
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