was told this riddle once by a 10 year old boy… “Imagine you are in a room without any doors or windows and there are walls on all sides. How will you get out?”
My initial response was who put me in such a room? But I said, “Well, I will call a friend who is outside and ask him to come and save me”. The child was unimpressed with it and said, “You do not have any phone with you”. I said, “Ok, then I will either dig my way out or break the wall with a hammer”.
As usual the child added another handicap to my already hopeless condition by saying… “Sorry you have no tools with you either and the room is fully made up of concrete so no digging”. I said, “Then I’ll scream for help”.
He sternly said, “No! you are in the middle of a desert. No one is there. How will you get out”? The child was getting really impatient as he wanted to hear me say “I don’t know” so that he could give the answer. So after thinking further, I yielded and said, “I don’t know”! With a broad smile on his face, he said the wisest words I’ve ever heard… “Stop imagining!”
This is not too far from the negative experiences we face in our lives. We too sometimes find ourselves surrounded by concrete walls without a way out and we try to get out by either self-effort (digging or attempting to break the wall), or by calling out for help with hope, or in most cases just bursting into hopeless tears and suffering silently within. And in most cases, the answer is just stop imagining and your suffering ends.
What are the causes of Suffering?
A boy who wants to buy new shoes and laments at his unfortunate state of not being able to afford it, till he sees another boy who has no legs. This comparative state of grief shows how most of our grief is caused by wrong values given to objects, persons or situations.
The notion of emptiness in the mind is another major cause of sorrow. As long as the mind feels empty, there will be suffering. An empty mind tends to be depressed, bored and dejected, sapped of all its creative energies to achieve great things. Generally, our way out of a sorrowful situation is thus to distract the mind through various other activities and by fulfilling our other desires.
However, every desire has a hidden sorrow which expresses itself when the desire is not fulfilled. How so?
When our mental projection of joy is shattered on meeting the factual unfavourable circumstance, we will experience sorrow or anger. So fulfilling our desires does not remove the emptiness either, does it? Nor does it guarantee joy? So let’s analyse on how to remove our suffering?
How to resolve and remove our Suffering?
Our Gurudev used to say, “Sorrow comes to everyone, but suffering is our choice”. Meaning unfavorable circumstance comes to all, but how we meet them, determines whether we suffer or not.
We can change one factor, and that is within us…
- Our mental projection of joy (E.g. I want mangoes) or
- The assumption that the factual circumstance is unfavourable or an obstacle to my joy. (E.g. Mangoes are sour.) Solution is, if life gives you sour mangoes, make pickle… and sell it!
The approach to dealing with unfavourable results is the corner stone of overcoming sorrow. This principle is what is taught as “Karma Yoga”, dealing with the mental approach to our actions and it’s results. Thus, Karma Yoga is meant to negate the effect of the results in our lives.
The feeling of inherent emptiness in the mind is removed only through knowledge about the genesis of the mind. When one realizes that one is the abode of Bliss (Absolute Completeness, Pure Ananda) then one never feels sorrow. Great Realised masters have experienced such a state and have guided humanity towards it, in their teachings. Bhagavan Shankaracharyaji says, “whose mind revels in that supreme, ever remains in Bliss alone”. Sant Kabirdasji says, “He who revels in Sukha… Dukh kahe ko hoye”, where is there any sorrow or grief for him. Upanishad says, “Tatra ko moha, ka shokah, ekatvam anupashyatah”. Where is grief or sorrow to one who has the vision of the supreme oneness? For that however, one needs to lift the mind to greater heights.
Bramhachari Adarsh Chaitanya serves as the Resident Acharya of Chinmaya Mission Auckland and conducts weekly spiritual classes for children, youth and adults.
For more information about the Chinmaya Mission and Bramhachari Adarsh Chaitanya please follow log on to:
www.chinmaya.org.nz or contact Adarsh ji at 2756954