Dispeller of Pain

Swami Amritananda Saraswati, International Festival of Yoga and Health, Bogotá, October 1980

The root cause of all the suffering in the world is ignorance. The states of physical, mental, emotional, psychic and spiritual agony existing in the world are due only to ignorance.

Our mental and emotional sufferings are known as psychological and psychic diseases, while in the physical body the root of our sufferings lies in the stomach. It is not just that you suffer from a gastric disturbance because you ate unwisely a few days earlier. Digestive disturbances also arise due to emotional ups and downs. Upheavals and extremes of happiness or sadness, laughing or weeping, also lead to digestive imbalance and this is the cause of many further physical diseases.

In Sanskrit, the causes of pain are termed daihic, daivic and bhautic tapa. This is not tapas (austerity), but tapa. Tapa literally means 'heat, burning, producing heat'. What is burning? In common terms, you always say, 'Oh, I am burning with anger', 'burning with jealousy', 'burning with hatred', 'burning with desire'. This is the burning which is called tapa. In psychological terms we can use tension, anxiety and neurosis to express the same idea. Daihic refers to the physical tensions arising within the body as instincts, etc.; bhautic refers to all the tensions of the material world, arising out of our environmental interactions; and daivic refers to spiritual or transcendental sources of anxiety. We have all these three types of anxiety, fear and tension in our lives. Since time immemorial, these three types of suffering - physical, material and atmic or spiritual have existed in the experience of mankind. These sufferings we display both consciously or unconsciously, when we suffer from our physical, mental and emotional sicknesses.

In treatment of suffering and diseases, the cause must be tackled by a medicine which belongs to the same dimension of tapa. It is not sufficient to treat a physical disorder like a broken bone with an atmic or spiritual solution - it is better to apply an appropriate splint and liniment. If you suffer from diabetes, the doctor will prescribe insulin injections for you; but what happens if the insulin supply is exhausted? Now, what will you do? Will mesmerism help? Will it help to apply some type of flower to your back or head, or some other such remedy? No. It will only suppress the symptoms of the disorder. It may help you for some time, but not indefinitely. Or I can blow air from my mouth and tell you, 'Oh, you will be alright hereafter', but this does not really help. This approach only hypnotizes us. It can only lead us to have faith in something or some ideal which is greater than what we are, or believe we are. So it is not really beneficial to use a spiritual solution for a physical problem- it is insufficient and ineffective in the long run.

Similarly, if you suffer from a brain tumour, will the doctor just send you to learn yoga? No, it will be insufficient. Surgery and irradiation are also required. And even if your pain is relieved after yoga exercises, does it mean your tumour is cured, or only suppressed in order to come again when the intensity of your faith and your devotion to the practice wane at some future time? These forms of physical suffering and pain are examples of daihic tapa, which demand physical solutions. This is the first type of burning experienced by man.

Consider the situation where something has gone wrong in your material life, in your family life or in your business life. Then you seek to alter the situation by working through all the legal and official channels you know of. What if, despite all these measures, your problem is yet impossible to solve? How do you proceed? And if further, even the best lawyer in the country can offer you no reassurance, and the minister himself refuses to act upon your appeal and can offer you no solution for your problem, then how can you be helped?

Surely you are filled with anxiety due to this problem. You are burning up with anxiety, not the burning of acid, but burning internally. This is called bhautic tapa. It is an environmental or materially derived suffering which demands a material solution also. It is not sufficient to rely upon purely spiritual means in order to solve it. You have to exhaust all the material possibilities at your disposal. The solution must be applicable to the problem.

The third type of tapa is daivic. This is the form of spiritual suffering. Here I am imagining that God descends in me; or that a divine blessing rests with me, or that I am the greatest spiritual leader in the world. Or I imagine I am in the highest state of meditation or samadhi, when I am not. This is a peculiar type of spiritual anxiety. This anxiety exists between the ignorance of what 'I am' and the knowledge of what 'I am not'. This is the greatest anxiety which is really burning up the heart and making the internal self like a fire.

Today many aspirants are terribly impatient to awaken kundalini, and when they do not even know how to start, then they are frustrated. This frustration is of daivic quality.

What to do? Where to go? How to remove spiritual ignorance? How to overcome imbalance in the material life? How to be rid of physical sicknesses? In order to overcome the three types of burning, there is only one way. The guru is the way. The real connection is the relation with the guru, not the guru's relation with you, but your relation with the guru.

A patient has to have faith and confidence in the doctor and know that the doctor will prescribe the correct medicine for his ailment. When you go to the psychiatrist you know you will be helped and when you go to the surgeon, you know the surgery will be skilful and effective. In the same way, when you have the proper way of thinking, and when you possess the right type of devotion towards the guru, then your relationship to the guru, like a patient's to the doctor, is fulfilled.

The right type of devotion to the guru should be made clear. I am not talking about emotion, or what you call love, but devotion as the force of dedication to the guru as a higher ideal and practice in life. When you approach the guru with this way of thinking and feeling, then the relationship will be fulfilled, and whether you go with a physical disease, a material problem, a mental disturbance or spiritual ignorance, all will disappear.

You have to have a satguru. Not just a doctor or vaidya as a guru, and not your own thoughts and conceptions of an 'inner guru', but a physical guru in a physical body. Such a guru can dispel all your sicknesses. He quenches the thirst of our internal burning and allays our three types of anxieties. He delivers us from ignorance and brings peace. The satguru is the real doctor.