There is No Need to Suffer
"Basically, the vast majority of men are like prisoners with all the doors and all the windows shut, so they suffocate (which is quite natural), but they have with them the key that opens the doors and the windows, and they don't use it... Certainly, there is a period when they don't know that they have the key, but even long after they do know it, long after they have been told, they hesitate to use it and doubt that it has the power to open the doors and windows, or even that it may be advisable to open them. And even once they feel that 'After all, it might be a good thing,' a fear pursues them: 'What is going to happen once all these doors and these windows open?... 'They become afraid – afraid of losing themselves in this light and in this freedom. They want to remain what they call 'themselves.' They love their falsehood and their slavery. Something in them loves it and remains clinging to it. They feel that without their limits, they would no longer exist. That is why the journey is so long, so difficult. For if one would truly consent no longer to be, everything would become so easy, so swift, so luminous, so joyous – though perhaps not in the way men conceive of joy and ease. At heart, there are very few beings who are not enamored of struggle. There are very few who would consent to having no darkness or who can conceive of light as anything other than the opposite of obscurity: 'Without shadow, there would be no painting. Without struggle, there would be no victory. Without suffering, there would be no joy.' That is what they think, and as long as they think like that, they are not yet born to the spirit."
Blanche Rachel Mirra Alfassa was born in 1878 in Paris, France. She moved to India in 1920, becoming Sri Aurobindo's spiritual colloborator. She would be known as "The Mother." The Mother's teachings over the last 30 years of her life were the basis of The Agenda, a 13 volume / 6,000 page journal that was recorded by Satprem, one of her disciples. She was an extraordinary human being whose life and work is relatively unknown in the United States.
The Mother's comments in the above quote speak to the treasure within by which a person can liberate themselves from suffering. But to get to the heart of the matter, what is the key to which The Mother refers?
It is important to understand that a person's behavior reveals the thought that produced the behavior. Understood correctly, your belief about something dictates your behavior before you ever take action. If a person is conservative, it can be predicted ahead of time what they are going to say. If a person is liberal, we know what they are going to say. The inner condition dictates the outer response Said another way, your level of consciousness dictates what you see and how you act. This is the basis of your craziness...you keep playing out the same old patterns that have never gotten you where you want to be...unless, of course, you are choosing to be crazy. The light switch in the hallway turns on the light in the hallway, not the kitchen. Every single time...until you re-wire it.
Consciousness is like that. It "turns on" what it is conscious of and doesn't "turn on" anything of which it is not conscious. The level of consciousness with which you are experiencing the world is an aspect of your evolution. Your evolution is an aspect of your waking up. Your waking up is dependent upon your degree of awareness that what you're doing isn't working to the degree of satisfaction that you desire. Your awareness is dependent upon you willingness to become a student of your life.
So, let's see if we can re-wire one of those switches. In order to understand The Mother's statement, "There are very few who would consent to having no darkness or who can conceive of light as anything other than the opposite of obscurity: 'Without shadow, there would be no painting. Without struggle, there would be no victory. Without suffering, there would be no joy.' That is what they think, and as long as they think like that, they are not yet born to the spirit," she is suggesting that joy is not the absence of suffering but that joy exists in spite of suffering, that joy resides beyond the realm of duality in which something can only be known by what it is not. All of us think like that! We believe that duality is the nature of life. But what if it's not? By the way, if you are seriously reading this and considering the implications of this question, you are doing something that few people will do over the course of a lifetime will ever do. Congratulations...you may be on your way to becoming a student of your life.
We'll see if we can make some progress with this understanding that joy resides beyond duality and that suffering is not necessary. Recall a scene in which you were suffering, hurting, sad or immersed in a negative emotion. Recall all of the pain and struggle in that moment. Now, back up about 10 feet and watch yourself going through the suffering. Just watch yourself as best you can without judging yourself. An now as you are watching yourself, allow yourself to feel joy watching yourself going through this experience. Feel immense compassion for yourself, for the part of you that feels threatened or discounted or afraid or whatever it is. Feel the joy and privilege of just being here as a human being, growing and evolving. Bless the moment. Bless the hardship that gives you the opportunity to grow and evolve. Bless yourself and embrace the circumstances. See that joy can exist as the container in which you play out every moment of your life, including the difficult ones. You can be just as addicted to being joyful as you can be to suffering. Suffering is not necessary. There is no need to suffer. If love is all there...and that's true...then why not act that way even in the middle of struggle?
The Mother's wisdom once again clarifies this situation. "To cling to something one believes that one knows, to cling to something that one feels, to cling to something that one loves, to cling to one’s habits, to cling to one’s so-called needs, to cling to the world as it is, it is that which binds you. You must undo all that, one thing after another. Undo all the ties. And it has been said thousands of times and people continue to do the same thing.... Even they who are most eloquent and preach that to others, do cling — they cling to their way of seeing, their way of feeling, their habit of progress, which seems for them the only one."
Now, go back to the scene in which you were (are) suffering. See yourself in the scene but now, let go of the suffering and struggle. It is what it is. Just handle it. Just do what needs to be done and give up the clinging to to the past, to what your mind says, to what your emotions are screaming, to the tension of what your body is sensing. Just do the best you can to let go and anchor in joy. Bring the joy into your mind as best you can and know that everything will work out, that suffering is extra and that it is time to let go of the struggle. To the best of your ability, just do what needs to be done and let go...as best you can. Take care of business but let go. Teach yourself that you are and have always been safe.
Now, I have a test question for you. Fill in the blank at the end of this test question.
Change your perception of your life in such a way that you see difficulty, setback, loss as preparation for _____?
The correct answer is joy, heaven, bliss, happiness, release, letting go, or whatever word is synonymous with joy. There is no need to suffer. It's OK to give it up. It's just stuff. It's intention is to serve the grandest part of you, that part of you that is unthreatenable, eternal and safe. Now, if you don't think that's true, then don't worry. Your mind will easily find something to prove that joy does not exist and that pain is the way of the world.
The Mother said, "Think less of yourself and your health. Surely you will become stronger. But if you are convinced that you have an illness, go to the hospital, surely there they will find one."
See in the difficulty what the eyes cannot see and what the ears cannot hear. Teach yourself to see and reside in the joy that is who you are and give up the need to suffer.Suffering is extra. There is no need to suffer. The key is letting go.