Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Perception of Suffering

“When someone beats a rug,
the blows are not against the rug,
but against the dust in it.” ...........Rumi

“When you see the Beloved all around you, everyone is family and everywhere is love.” We are all affecting the world every moment – our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply interconnected with one another." ...........Swamy Ram Dass

Rumi, in his elegant poetry brings out a great truth. Let us assume I have a very expensive Persian carpet and before the days of vacuum cleaners, with highly advanced settings, if I had gone about beating the hell out of this expensive carpet, to any observer, I would appear to be mad trying to destroy this expensive carpet. But if the carpet accumulates dust and grime over a period of time, then the damage to the carpet would be far worse than that caused by the occasional beating it receives to get rid of the dust.

If the carpet were to have pain sensation, which results from unbalanced and unwanted energy application in living organisms, the very fibres and the interconnecting threads of the carpet go through a similar stressful period during the beating but it is the knowledge that all unwanted attachments are dislodged in the process which leads to healthier existence and a renewed perception of the process.

This is very true in life. When we have a perception of suffering in life either at a subjective or objective level, either we become insensitive, at the objective level due to our social and materialistic conditioning, or become depressed and blameful when suffering at the subjective level.

The story of the Buddha and his father King is a good example. The Buddha’s father created a castle which was a protected environment to keep the Buddha, the young Gautama, from seeing suffering. Because the father knew that if the son saw the suffering, he wouldn’t become the next king. The son would have been reflecting on how to end suffering – which is what happened.

Had Gautama been brought up in an ordinary social environment, without the isolation provided by his father, he would have perhaps been conditioned by the insensitive perception and attitude towards suffering at the objective level and his deep enquiry into the nature of suffering and its root cause would have escaped his fundamental search.

Had he not experienced the lack of all the comforts of the palace, separation from his wife and son, physical pain and extreme hunger during his ascetic wandering, he would not have had the understanding of suffering at the subjective level.

The two primary attributes that are required to have a deeper understanding of the nature of suffering and become alleviators of suffering are Compassion and Detachment.

Detachment at the subjective level and compassion at the objective level. This applies to all beings with consciousness.

The false perception also must be visited at this time and it is as Swami Ram Dass says:
“If I open to their suffering I won’t be happy.” And the truth is, if you don’t open to their suffering you definitely won’t be happy. And there may be a way to open to suffering and still be happy."

Why is it that if you don’t open to their suffering you definitely won’t be happy, because every living thing is connected in this cosmic web of existence. If we are insensitive to this interconnectedness it leads to extreme ego inflation which leads to a very high level of attachment.

Let us then try to live with compassion towards all and detachment from our ego self.

Love to you all.


  1. Dear Mama,
    My apologies for reading the blog after a very very long time....But I'm glad that I read this very beautiful write-up on the "Perception of Suffering"...It takes me back to the book that I once read called "Where is God when it hurts" in which the author Philip Yancey describes the "problem of pain" from various angles and establishes the truth that suffering is not as bad as we see it but it puts us through a storm and makes us strong and sensitive....I like the way you have written about the "interconnectedness" and "the cosmic web of existence"....Thank you for this wonderful post.

  2. Dear Elizabeth,

    I am so glad you read this article. Whenever I write something related to Jungian psychology, archetypes or mental perceptions, I think of you. You are very qualified to write on this subject of "suffering".

    Thank you for your feedback which will benefit the many readers who visit my writings.