We often link pain, distress, and suffering together. In reality, they are distinct and separate. For suffering to take place, we need to be in a conscious state of mind, have a certain level of pain, and then emotionally process that pain.
Suffering includes the ability to bear. The pain which triggers suffering may be physical (I have an injury) or could be purely mental (you hurt my feelings).
Pain may or may not be avoidable,
But you can control the emotional absorption of the pain.
As you become better at emotionally handling the pain, you alleviate suffering.
What causes mental/emotional suffering? If you peel the covers and look at the human aspect of our life, you can say suffering has these 3 symptoms:
Aversion: When you hate or are averse to something or someone, then the body reciprocates accordingly. Like a dutiful soldier, the body wants to support you and in processing the aversion feeling, works hard and struggles. This agony outputs as suffering.
You end up bearing the agony as you asked for it to begin with! Over time, the body gets used to processing aversion and suffering becomes your second nature. Aversion is the main reason for suffering.
Attachment: When you are attached, you are making that object or person an extension or part of you. Since it is a part of you, pain is inflicted when you have to detach. Infliction of pain triggers suffering.
Attachment is an addiction.
The only way you can alleviate attachment suffering is when you are willing to look deeper into the realities of life – Death is part of life, Losing/Winning is bound to happen, Good/Bad will always be present and so on. You can have a desire for an outcome and to get to the outcome you put in the appropriate effort. But, disassociate yourself from getting attached to the outcome. Otherwise, attachment kicks in and you suffer when you don’t get what you desired.
Inertia: The tendency to stay put and not move forward is a cause of suffering.
Irrespective of the cause, the only way to get out of suffering is when you trigger a new set of emotional processes in your body. When in acute pain, watching a movie may make you forget that pain as you are now triggering a new set of emotional processes.
You cannot retrace your existing suffering, you can wipe it out though by overriding it with a set of new emotional processes. That is why inertia is your worst enemy.
You cannot and should not stay still, you have to wipe out suffering by sending a gush of favorable waves of energy which your body can process peacefully.
When in aversion, think of someone or something you love. When angry, interrupt the anger by changing your focus. All of these are new triggers allowing your body to have a different set of emotional processes.
The nature of duality in this world makes pain avoidable. Suffering is optional and depends on your response to the pain stimulus.
Do you have any comments or thoughts about this article? Please do share in the comments below.
1 reply on “Alleviate Suffering!”
Thank you Mahesḥ. As a student of Vedanta, I believe all suffering (physical and emotional) us because of our mistaken identity of who we are. I wrote this poem below. See if it appeals to you. Jayaram Haravu
The Two ‘I’s’
Each of us has two ‘I’s’
One who says ‘I know who I am’
I call this Entity, the ‘Apparent I’
The other is the ‘Witness I’
Hidden behind the ‘Apparent ‘I’
The Apparent knows not;
If he’s body with mind;
Or mind with body;
Himself, he identifies;
Variably with senses sometimes;
Then with body, then mind;
Most of all with feelings;
All appearing in the mind.
Day-in and day-out;
Like a chameleon changes its colours;
Changing identities he takes;
These come and go;
And leave shadows;
Of joy and sorrow in the mind;
How then, can the fellow say,
‘I know who I am?’
These changing identities;
Push the ‘Apparent I’
From pillar to post;
And post to pillar poor fellow;
He struggles to free his mind;
From changing identities;
Each of which demands;
An action new of sorts;
Soon he gets inevitably caught;
In another identity false.
Frustrated with his many identities;
and their consequences;
For succor and advice;
To a sage the Apparent goes;
“Don’t you see dear fellow,”
Says the sage,
“The many identities you assume;
All in the unchanging ocean;
Of Consciousness are born;
Like waves that rise and fall;
And then into;
Unattached Consciousness resolve.
The Unchanging ‘Witness I’ is who thou art;
Not your identities false;
But to these you’re attached;
And suffer consequences alas;
Witness Consciousness thou art;
That indeed is the Truth;
In that knowledge be resolved;
Be free of all;
Push and pulls of your False.”