The Principle of Opposites

If one swings between opposites, then sometimes one feels good and sometimes bad. If you swing between peace and conflict, joy and sorrow, then sometimes you feel elated and sometimes depressed. If you go hungry sometimes, then you appreciate food. How good does it feel to receive food when you haven’t had anything to eat for awhile!

God has created all these qualities of opposites, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, for our enjoyment, for our appreciation of both. If you only experienced joy and happiness, you would not know what sorrow is. If your stomach was always full, you would refuse the best of sweets. How pathetic! You are not able to enjoy the delight of a sweet because your stomach is always full. My stomach is sometimes full and sometimes empty. Therefore, when I am offered a sweet, I can say, “Yes, I will certainly have it. I will enjoy it very much.” How will one enjoy the quality of joy if one has not experienced sorrow? If one has never gone hungry, how will one enjoy a meal? How will one who has not faced hard times enjoy wealth? Understand this well. If you tell someone who sleeps all the time to go for a run, he will say afterwards, “Swamiji, today I am feeling very good.” Therefore, it has been said:

Duhkha darda museebata kee duniyaan mein
Aramaana tarapate rahate hain
Kuchha tu saha le kuchha main saha loon,
Yaha jaga chaara gharee kaa melaa hai

In the world of sorrow, pain and trouble, desires go on erupting. Bear with everything, this world is a festival that lasts for a very short time.

It is God’s excellent planning to have made both joy and sorrow. If he had created only joy, the world would have gone mad. And if he had created only sorrow, the world would be full of suicides. It is for this reason that God has made opposites.

You must always accept God’s planning. Say, “Thy will be done. All is your will. If you want to keep us sick, keep us sick. If you want to give us sorrow, then give us sorrow. We will not ask you for happiness.” Remember this point. We cannot bear our sorrow and constantly ask God for joy, whereas God wants that we should undergo a treatment. Pain is a teacher. It is like a guru. Swami Sivananda used to say, “Pain is the crucible in which Nature puts man whenever she wishes to mould him into a sublime superman.” To become a superman you have to experience sorrow and not ask God for freedom from sorrow. However, you are unable to do this. You cannot manage yourself in the face of a little pain. A small problem and you visit Baba Baidyanath in the hope that your child’s fever will be cured. Let the fever come, how does it matter? Grace and blessings come into a person’s life in the form of joy and sorrow. When a person is going through pain and suffering, he should not ask God for freedom from pain. Nor should he say, “God, what are you punishing me for?” Pain is not a punishment.

You have accepted something as painful or a difficulty; therefore, it becomes a difficulty for you. There is nothing called a difficulty. That is how you have decided to look upon it. Difficulty is a negative term; it is not an absolute. Birth is not the cause of joy nor is death the cause of sorrow. However, we have accepted that death is cause for sorrow and birth is cause for joy. The thinkers say that to be free of difficulties, you must keep your mind under control. We stagger in the face of difficulties. Instead, one should think from a new perspective, only then will a difficulty – if it really is a difficulty – find a resolution.

A senior gurubhai in Rishikesh once asked me, “Satyananda, how come you do not complain about life?” I said, “What complaint?” He said, “There are diseases and so on.” I said, “Look, when you are sick, you gain knowledge about your own body – what should be eaten and what should not be eaten. This is a good thing.” If you suffer from an upset stomach for a few days, you will learn what suits your system and what doesn’t. Therefore, one should keep one’s mental state and attitude under control while going through pain or pleasure.