Sorrow and suffering

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Letters on Yoga – IV
“Sorrow and suffering”

Letters on Yoga IV - Sorrow and Suffering.jpg
PDF (5 pages)


“Sorrow and pain and suffering? The curious thing is that my Yoga does not approve of sorrow and suffering or of taking stumbles and difficulties too seriously”[1]


“It is not the soul but the vital or rather something in it that takes pleasure in groaning and weeping and in fact in sorrow and suffering of all kinds.”[2]


“It is quite correct that [ordinary] weeping brings in the forces that should be kept outside — for the weeping is a giving way of the inner control and an expression of vital reaction and ego.”[3]


“A sattwic gladness and calm and confidence is the proper temperament for this Yoga; gloom, depression and weeping should not be indulged in, as they stand in the way of the opening, unless the tears are the psychic weeping of release or adoration or a moved love and bhakti.”[4]


“When people get a big blow in their life, some misfortune (what men call “misfortune”, there are people who do have misfortunes), the first thing they try to do is to forget it — as though one did not forget quickly enough! And to forget, they do anything whatsoever. When there is something painful, they want to distract themselves — what they call distraction, that is, doing stupid things, that is to say, going down in their consciousness, going down a little instead of rising up.... Has something extremely painful happened to you, something very grievous? Do not become stupefied, do not seek forgetfulness, do not go down into the inconscience; you must go to the end and find the light that is behind, the truth, the force and the joy; and for that you must be strong and refuse to slide down.”[5]


“How can we get rid of abhimana [hurt pride, self-pity because one feels ill-treated]?

Oh, good heavens! First of all, see how utterly disastrous it is: it is very petty, it is destructive; and then take a step farther and hold yourself up to ridicule, see to what extent you are ludicrous. So, in this way you get rid of it. But so long as you take it seriously, so long as you justify the movement, so long as somewhere in the mind there’s the idea, “After all, it is quite natural, I was ill-treated and I suffer from the ill-treatment”, then it is finished, it will never go. But if you begin to understand that it is a sign of weakness, of inferiority — naturally, of a very considerable egoism, a narrow-mindedness, and above all of a pettiness of the feelings, a small-heartedness — if you understand that, you can fight it. But your thought should be in agreement. If there is the attitude, “I have been hurt, I am suffering, I am going to show that I am suffering”, then it is like that. I am not going so far as to mention people who nurse a fairly secret spirit of vengeance and say, “I have been made to suffer, I shall make them suffer.” This indeed becomes nasty enough for people to notice that it should not exist — though it is not always easy to resist. It indicates something very petty in the nature. It may be very sensitive, it may be very emotional, it may have a certain intensity but it is quite petty, it is all turned back on oneself, and is quite petty.
         Of course, you can use your reason, if you have one which works. You can make use of the reason and can tell yourself something which is very true: that in our being it is only egoism which always suffers, and that if there was no egoism there would be no suffering, and that if one wants the spiritual life, one must overcome his egoism. So the first thing to do is to look straight at this suffering, perceive to what an extent it is the expression of a very petty egoism and then sweep the place clean, make a clean ground and say, “I don’t want this dirt, I am going to clean my inner chamber.”[6]





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