How to Suffer and Enjoy it

Swami Mokshananda Saraswati

Most people consider suffering, whether mental, emotional or physical, as an experience to be avoided, not welcomed or even invited. According to the yogic view, however, pain and suffering are forms of sadhana which sharpen the mind and make it aware, while continual pleasure seeking tends to dull the mind and makes one apathetic towards knowing the self.

One of the easiest ways to suffer is knowing that you are helping another, as a mother will give the last morsel of food to her child and go hungry herself. Out of love for the child she forgets her own pain. This is by far the best way to suffer because, although others may be aware of your sacrifice, you do not see it as such because you are not concerned about your own needs. Such suffering is ego-less because your little self is not involved. This is the secret of suffering; shift the focus of attention away from yourself by becoming involved in the active service of another.

Some say that to suffer for God is the noblest suffering. As you suffer, your awareness grows and your perceptions begin to function on a higher level as you come closer to your true being. But, how many people today will endure pain and hardship for that which is formless? The divine is very elusive; sometimes it is with you and sometimes it withdraws its presence. Then what will motivate you to undergo hardship?

Not many people can bear pain for long without feeling the presence of divinity. But in this world there are very few souls who have realized the presence of God within them. Ordinary people who only receive glimpses of this continue to fall into intense suffering. The normal human being while undergoing negative experiences will stop thinking about God after some time and start thinking about his own unfulfilled needs and desires.

Pain and suffering often occupy a large part of life. By choosing to accept it, whatever may happen to us, then we find that we can learn from our hardship, yet, too often, by our non-acceptance, we are pulled back from real knowledge into the world of sense pleasure again.

Suffering reminds us of our real goal in life and who we really are. During suffering, ignorance gives way to insight and we begin to perceive the truth of our existence. Suffering inevitably leads to surrender and when this occurs the sufferer is no longer totally merged in his lower nature and begins treading the path to Spirit, Self or God.