Nobody born in this world has immunity against painful experiences — failures, sorrows, miseries, old-age, disease and death. From divine incarnation to the lowliest one, everyone has gone through some or the other miserable experiences.
Miseries and sufferings are an integral part of our ephemeral existence. In relative existence everything is impermanent, including miseries and sorrows. We don’t suffer because we have to, we suffer because we choose to.
While sorrows are a fact of life, suffering is our interpretation of it. We may not have a choice when it comes to sorrows, but our suffering is dependent on our attitude towards life and our relationship with the world around us. Two different people will respond differently to the same situation and will have different experiences, depending on their perspective. With the change of perspective, everything changes.
When miseries come in our lives, we become miserable. But when miseries come in the lives of great saints, sages and masters, they don’t become miserable. What is the difference? Their focus is more on the development of the spiritual layer of their personality. A fulfilling inner life translates into happiness, peace and joy. Spiritually oriented people are stronger and more secure. They make better spouses, colleagues and leaders.
How to develop our spiritual personality? We need to ask ourselves:
a) Do I have a sense of contentment?
The mind is a begging bowl. It is capable of only begging. Throw in the whole world, the universe and they simply disappear. Keep trying to satiate the mind and it shall beg for more. The mind is always ready for more. It is self-annihilating, a self-destructive process.
Contentment comes when there is no more craving and we are satisfied with what we have.
b) Is my happiness heavily dependent on external factors such as objects, people, relationships, circumstances, etc.?
Any kind of dependency is a cause of bondage and any bondage is a cause of misery. Reduce being dependent on external factors for happiness.
c) Am I too attached to a thing or being?
Attachment is also a cause of misery. Anything that we are attached to the most, that very thing will be the cause of our biggest sorrow.
Great saints and sages are well contented, have have no dependency on external factors for their happiness and have no attachment whatsoever to anything. Their focus is fully on their spiritual growth. Therefore, they never become miserable.
Miseries are unavoidable but being miserable is optional. Sorrows are necessary for our emotional and spiritual development. It pushes us out of our comfort zone. Troubles are needed to develop the mines of human intelligence, vital for progress and development. Once we overcome sorrow, pain and bitterness brought upon by miseries, we become stronger and wiser.
Never to suffer would mean never to have been blessed.
We need to focus on our spiritual life and the outer one will align itself.
Mulla Nasruddin approached a beautiful woman in a very crowded bazaar.
“Excuse me,” he said, “I’ve lost my wife here in this market. Can you talk to me for a couple of minutes?”
“Why?” the young woman asked, puzzled.
“Because every time I talk to a beautiful woman, my wife appears out of nowhere.”
Every time we brood over past mistakes and negative thoughts, miseries and suffering appear out of nowhere. Yes, loss is painful, but then everything is impermanent, fleeting. The truth is, everything we have is subject to loss and destruction. It’s a part of life.
Life is like a flute. It may have many holes and emptiness. But if we work on it carefully, it can play magical melodies.
A man asked a sculptor: “How do you make such beautiful idols from stone?”
He replied: “Idols are already hidden there. I just chip away unwanted stone only!”