Dedication – I humbly dedicate this write up to my guru, Shri Madabusi Subramaniam, Mahavatar Kriya Babaji, several people/ gurus who have helped and contributed towards my spiritual growth, to the Divine & His / Her healing energies like Reiki, and to various protective deities.
Let me begin with acknowledging that I am still learning to suffer with grace. Though I have been told that I have been handling it slightly better than others, except for public rants (the only reason for those is venting out for retaining sanity). However shrill I may have sounded in public regarding my problems, fact remains that I have quite done my duties and still doing them, without much compromise.
The idea of this write up came to my mind while I was doing Japa in written, writing pages of Om Namah Shivaya and Jai Shri Rama, when it dawned to me that ordinary people like me are brought near to the divine energies mostly by suffering. I know this sounds philosophical, or like a justification in circumstances that cannot be corrected overnight, or may not b corrected fully at any point of time.
Long ago, while i was purposeless and trying to overcome severe depression, I had come across and read this book by Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search For Meaning. It addressed the issues of my heart. The great doctor invented ‘Logotherapy’, which talks about meaning in suffering. Many Logotherapists after his demise have tried to write further on meaning to unavoidable suffering. He had successfully (to a great extent) merged meaningful psychological counselling with clinical psychiatric treatment. His ideas actually point to a great spiritual potential in any human to transcend, rather, live with suffering at a deeper level.
After series of electric shock treatments and hundreds of medications for over a decade, I finally overcame suicidal tendencies and bouts of severe depression. Apart from Karmic payback / destiny, the roots of my screwed up neurotransmitters lie in child abuse and very little creative channelizing of personal energy in young years of my life. Lack of dharmic education in school added to depression. To someone who continually felt hopeless and meaningless for a decade or so, what it meant to come across that book and contemplate about meaning of life is not explainable. I turned spiritual and religious. The medicines reduced to almost one-eighth of what I was prescribed before.
As I looked back then, I sensed that I was given various cues even in my teenage and early twenties to turn spiritual, but because of immediate materialistic surrondings, a sensitive me could not figure those out. Anyway, I moved on. I had lost hope of becoming a mother, but I finally gave birth and became a mother. Truthfully, I never came out of depression fully, but I understood purposes of this life eventually.
What happens to ordinary people like us is, we don’t remember divine energies as much in the periods of happiness. As suffering keeps knocking my door off and on, with some mishap or the other, I did realize that I am not able to utilize my latent potential fully, though my mind evolved at a lightening speed! But my body had already been hollowed by medicines and electric shocks a great deal. The traumas of child abuse et all do not hurt as much, but it is certain that some of the trauma gets embedded subconsciously into the soul. What suffering does is, it keeps one close to the spiritual self/ divine (if one understands this and works accordingly).
Of course, not everybody has the aptitude towards spiritual progress, but those who have the potential, suffering can greatly bring one closer to doing rightful duties and real purpose of life. It obviously hurts, a human has to truly achieve a higher level of consciousness to get completely detached from suffering. It’s definitely not easy, more so, for a person with sensitive disposition and abuse history.
A lot of inspiration can be achieved on suffering from our Dharmic texts and history, in our culture, Dharma reigns supreme. It is this Dharma which makes place for responsible thought that ‘what is right/ ideal to do in such circumstances’, say probably one should become an alcoholic because of misery or one should find ways to strengthen oneself through creative means….
This contemplation leads to graceful acceptance of destiny, or karmic payback which leads to suffering. Grace and gratitude go hand in hand. There are phases wherein one may feel that one is breaking down, or there is no way out, or there is nothing to thank for. But as one calms down, one can always find something to thank for, one can always find sense in law of karma. That brings suffering with grace. If one suffers with grace, the mind will continue to evolve manifold, and hopefully one day, will become quiet enough to merge with the supreme energy.
One must note the lives of so many saints, the incarnations of Divine, to take lessons in accepting suffering. The biggest examples are Rama & Sita. So many years of misery! They accepted it with grace, when such supreme forces in their human form could not bypass suffering, how can we ordinary?! Because, the purpose of each one’s human birth is unique, if not different. The goal is ultimately the same, but there karmic lessons to be learnt, karmas to be paid back and realize the potential of freewill.
Even not so back in time, hundreds of stories of saints and kings / queens who suffered immensely. Swami Vivekananda’s family had no clothes and food after his father’s death. Maharana Pratap and his family could not find food to eat for long periods of time. Swami Dayananda survived poison various times. Even Lakshmana accepted separation from his wife, Urmila with grace! Draupadi, being a queen, suffered great insult in a court full of people while she was menstruating. Maa Devaki had to sacrifice bringing up her son as it was destined so. A great king like Dashratha, died longing for his son.
Even spiritual paths are full of suffering. When Swami Ramakrishna Paramahansa had to come back to worldly level for his contribution as desired by Divine, he suffered dysentery for a long period of time. It must have caused tremendous amount of weakness.
So, suffering, if borne with grace opens the gates of higher consciousness, in spite of it very difficult to undergo. The idea is to accept it gracefully, and try and follow Dharma as much as possible. This must be providing solutions for the next life too, or who knows, may grant Moksha in the same life!
To suffering, with grace.