Suffering is also a phase of life. It is of great consequence. A mystic treats suffering as a gift, coming from the Friend. As we prize a gift given by someone, likewise, the mystics prize suffering.
To be patient and preserving in suffering is the crucial test of the character of a person. When God Almighty, in His Discretion, wants to test us, He sends suffering.
To Suffer is the human lot, but to bear it with fortitude, patience, and courage requires the high watermark of human endeavour and perseverance.
Our faith is not a lamp meant to shine in dark nights only. When the lamp of life is shining, and it has dispelled darkness, even then, we require guidance and sympathy and faith.
Religion is a pick-me-up in times of stress and storm. It gives courage and extends sympathy to those besieged by suffering and sorrow. Every religion has words of comfort. Every religion. has in it, the heart-beat of Divine love.
When those whom we love, leave us permanently, we, of course, feel the pangs of separation. No doubt it is sad, but, there is not way out. It has been rightly said, that “what cannot be cured must be endured”.
Death is inevitable. It must come to everyone sooner or later. And,
“Life, like a dome of many colour glass,
stains the white radiance of eternity,
Until Death tramples it to fragments.”
Life is brief and transitory. The sea of life, is sometimes boisterous and sometimes, calm. When it is boisterous, we should wait, watch and show patience, and when it is calm, we should show utmost gratitude to God Almighty. It has been said, that by offering thanks, the blessings are increased. It is perfectly true. It is like living in a success atmosphere. You must know that like attracts like. Likewise, success attracts success.
Life is a complex phenomenon. It has been said:
“Tomorrow and tomorrow, and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death; out, out, brief candle
life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
and then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by and idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”
In mystic terminology, to be blessed, means in implies to be happy, prosperous and favoured.
It is no doubt true, that, every suffering or unpleasant thing that God Almighty and Merciful, permits to come, and cloud our life, has blessing within it. It is wrapped in it, but, we are not inquisitive to know it or eager to find it.
The things, which we do not like, and which we take as discouragement are, indeed, conductive to higher goals, better ideals and noble attainments.
It is not enough,that we should sit with people in their hour of trial and suffering, and merely sympathize with them. But, what we should do, in fact, is that, we should strengthen those in suffering, so that they may bear and endure their suffering with patience and courage, and with simile on their lips. The best service, that we can render them is, that we should try to so fortify them against discouragement and so strengthen them, as to enable them to score a victory over their sorrow and suffering.
We should be ever conscious of God’s unchanging love. We must believe in the promise of God, and have full and unflinching faith, that whatever happens is for our good. If we believe thus, it will give us comfort and peace.
It is true that,
“Blessed are they that mourn”
And then there is the promise:
“Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.”
To bear sorrow and suffering without grudge or murmur lends beauty to character and conduct. The fragments of beauty in character and conduct, apparent and real, or hidden and unnoticed, mould and change life in a way and to and extent, that is beyond human under standing. It has its own reward. And, what is the reward? The reward is transfigured life, having within it, balance, judgement, insight, and above all indifference to pain and pleasure. Thus, what is good, true, lovely, beautiful and worthy has come to occupy a place in life.
Sorrow and Suffering are not the things to be dreaded. They, in fact, should be treated as friends. They convey a message- a Divine message.
The dark clouds bring us rain. Rain, in its turn, makes flowers fragrant. Grass is made green. Rain is also useful for crops. Likewise, it can be said of sorrow and suffering that they make the heart sympathetic. They tune the heart, chasten the emotions, purify the sentiments, and thus, give a new colour and content to personality.
With the approach of night, we think, that the time for rest, after the day’s arduous labour, has come at last. But, night,not only furnishes the time for rest, but also enables us to see the shining starts above. The darkness of night brings with it thus the glory of the stars.
Suffering, likewise, has its won reward. It gives us courage, faith, energy, skill and above all, love.
To forget pain, the sorrow and suffering which one may have found himself to be entrenched and wrapped in. It is important that the patient is in the midst of so much love, affection, regard and attention.
The mystics have made experiments with sorrow and suffering. Their experience is that the more one concentrates on sorrow and suffering, the more they become painful. It is better then, to ignore them as far as possible. They should be checked and controlled and should, in no way, be allowed to cast their pernicious shadow upon human life.
Another very potent, plausible and powerful antidote to sorrow and suffering,that the mystics have discovered, is to entrust their affairs to God. They say, let us place all our problems at the feet of the Master, and He shall look after them.
The mystics have learnt not to have any will of their own. Not “I” but “Thou” is their dictum.
They say, that when a drop of water is thrown into a river, the drop loses its identity. The drop becomes a part of the river. It is difficult to distinguish the drop.
The mystic practice, or we may say, the mystic technique of self-surrender, gives force, vigour and stamina to their life. Once they surrender themselves to God, they have ceased to have any will of their own.
The mystics want to die before the actual physical death. Just as a dead body is in the hands of those living, likewise, the mystics treat themselves to be at the mercy of God.
The spirit of self-surrender has taught them to accept everything with a smile. This makes them indifferent towards pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, poverty and plenty, abuse and praise.
They have ceased to depend upon external life, external means and outward circumstances. They derive strength from within.
The spirit of self-surrender leads them, and guides them to Self-Realization.
Self-Surrender requires Self -Discipline, Self-Control, and Self-Abnegation.
The “I” has ceased to exist. Its place has been taken by “Thou”.
Our lust, avarice and greed, and our very selfishness and desire for acquisition and possession, are the things which keep alive and sustain materialism. They give it fillip, impetus, force and vigour.
Self-Surrender implies, that one has freed himself, and that lust and desire have ceased to be a motive force for him. He is no more kept restless by lust and search for worldly triumphs and successes, and neither is he the least moved by failures.
To rise above success and failure, pain and pleasure, sorrow and suffering constitute what may be termed as the spirit of self-surrender.
Suffering comes in various guises, shapes and forms. There is a lot of bitterness, discord and disruption in everyday life, resulting in a change of normal life and normal behaviour.
Physical suffering can be cured by a surgeon, or a physician, but mental suffering must be cured by the person himself.
Bereavement in the family, bad family life, loss of hope, anxiety, worry, imaginary or real apprehensions and fears, prolonged litigation, meagre resources and maintenance of a large family, taking intoxicating drugs, frequent ailments, etc.., sap the energy and make the resistance-power weak. When the resistance-power is at a low ebb, there is every possibility of a person falling prey to some dreadful disease.
International, national, local and social problems, instead of being discussed, and debated, rationally, and logically, in a clam and peaceful atmosphere, are made a pretext for rousing public sentiments and opinion, and taking the issue to the streets.
Let us conserve energy for constructive work. Let us treat all the happenings, events, accidents and incidents as being directed by an all-powerful Unseen Hand. We should treat them as inevitable. As they are inevitable, there is no way of escape.
“There is Divinity that shapes our end.”
The way to overcome difficulties, hardships, sorrow and suffering, is to be content with what happens and to exhibit the spirit of patience and perseverance in such difficult times. It is better to desire solace and comfort from moral principles and religious injuctions.
Let us avoid, as far as possible, those conditions and things, which bring sorrow and suffering to our doorstep.
The pursuit of greed and avarice results, ultimately, in the loss of energy.
There is a French proverb, which says:
“When all other sins are old, avarice is still young.”
We need not be afraid of affliction, Burton holds that,
“As threshing separates the wheat from the chaff, so does affliction purify virtue.”
Guthrie welcomes affliction and troubles in another sense. He says:
“As in nature, as in art, so in grace: it is rough treatment that gives souls, as well as stones, their lustre. The more the diamond is cut, the brighter it sparkles; and in what seems hard dealing, there God has no end in view but to perfect his people.”
The mystics have shown a marvellous spirit of Self-Surrender in times of difficulty. Instead of resisting the trouble, they have accepted it as coming from the Friend.
Self-Surrender is indeed a powerful weapon, which they mystics use to combat the unpleasant things in life.
Self-Surrender implies a perfect union and oneness with God Almighty. Self-Surrender implies loss of ego. It results in the happy blending of action and inaction.Non-attachment to action or desire results in indifference, making them neither accepted nor rejected.
Self-Surrender implies, that a person has ceased to exert his will, and that he has entrusted himself to the Will of God.
Thus it is, that the replacement of human will by the Divine Will, or we may say, the substitution of the Divine Will for the human will, is what is termed as Self-surrender.
Self-Surrender brings about a noticeable change in human life. Tension and inward conflicts are replaced by harmony and peace. There is light, joy and love in life. The soul has won liberty from the very many limitations. The liberated soul now shows and exhibits consent and will.
Self-Surrender confers grace, bestows enlightenment and gives strength. Once a person takes to Self-Surrender, he draws and attracts to himself everything that is merited, decided and sealed.
Strange to say that, when we are ill, we surrender ourselves to the physician, and when we undergo an operation, we surrender ourselves to the surgeon. When we are involved in litigation, we surrender ourselves to the lawyer, who acts and pleads on our behalf in a court of law .
In other words, in crucial moments of our life, we voluntarily, surrender ourselves to a person, whom we think and suppose to be an expert.
We are content to be guided by his expert advice.But how strange is it, that we hesitate to surrender ourselves to our Creator, who is All-Knowing, All-Powerful and All-Wise.
Indifference towards the world and its problems in the keynote of the life of a mystic.
It has been very aptly said:
“I have not loved the world, nor the world me I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bowed To its idolatries a patient knee, Nor coined my cheek to smile, nor cried aloud In worship of an echo; in the crowd ,They could not deem me one of such; I stood Among them, but not of them.”
It is better, then that we should lead a chaste life. Let us pay due attention to the advice or suggestion, which says:
“Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou livest, Live well; how long or short permit to heaven”.
We should not aspire for more.It is enough, if the pattern of our life exhibits Faith, Hope Contentment and Courage, and is fortified by the spirit of Self-Surrender.
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