"The very first step in understanding what this is all about is giving up the concept of an active, volitional 'I' as a separate entity and accepting the passive role of perceiving and functioning as a process." - Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Suffering is Purifying

Sri Ramana Maharshi

From Sri Annamalai Swami's Diary Extracts

Bhagavan often said that since there was no suffering in the Self, all suffering must inevitably be a product of the mind.

When I once asked him, 'Is there no way to escape from worldly suffering?' he gave me a typical reply: 'The only remedy is to remain in the state of Self without losing awareness of it.'

The problem of suffering was a popular topic of conversation i the hall since noneof us, except for B, was immune from the occasional bout of mental turmoil. The following questions and answers, which I jotted down at various ties, contain a typical selection of B's answers to devotees who wanted to understand or transcend suffering.

Q: Bhagavan, all through my life I have been experiencing nothing but suffering. Is it due to the sinful karma of my previous births? I once asked my mother whether I had been happy in her womb. She told me that she had suffered a great deal at that time. How is it that I have acquired so many sins? Why do I duffer so much?

B: We could say that it is due to purva karma (past karma). But instead of thinking that this purva karma is due to the karma of, for example, the incarnation previous to the last, find out to whom this present incarnation has come. If this body is what has taken birth, let it ask the question. You say that you are always experiencing suffering. That is only your thoughts. Happiness alone exists. What comes and goes is suffering.

Q: How is it that so much suffering comes to people who behave virtuously?

B: It is goof if suffering comes to devotees. The dhobi (washerman), when washing clothes, beats them hard against a rock. But he does so only to remove the dirt from the clothes. Similarly, all sufferings are given for the sole purpose of purifying the mind of the devotee. If we are patient, happiness will follow.

The next two questions were asked by me on different occasions.

Q: Happiness and suffering occur according to one's previous karma. If one has a desire for events to happen in a particular way, will they end that way?

B: If a person has done a lot of punya (good deeds) in the past, right at this moment whatever he thinks will happen. But he will not be changing what is destined. Whatever he desires will conform to what is to happen anyway. His desires will conform to that which was already determined by the desire or will of the Supreme. If there is plenty of papam (accumulated sins), the fruits of these acts will also materialize right now. The fruits of excessive punya and papam which have been carried forward from past lives will materialize in this birth. For Vidyaranya Swami it rained gold.

Q: When one person does good deeds, suffering comes to him. But another person who does many bad deeds may not suffer at all. Why is this?

B: Everyone is getting happiness and suffering as a result of the karma which has been carried forward from previous births. Accepting both patiently and remaining in the Self, doing whatever actions one happens to be engaged in without seeking happiness or suffering in them, that alone is good. The enquiry 'Who am I?' leads to the cessation of suffering and the acquisition of the supreme bliss.

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सर्वानुग्राहकत्वेन तद्स्म्यहं वासुदेवः॥

That in whom reside all beings and who resides in all beings,
who is the giver of grace to all, the Supreme Soul of the universe, the limitless being:
I AM THAT. -- Amritabindu Upanishad