Let’s talk about embracing suffering, enjoying it as we go through the ordeal, knowing that there is something good coming of it at the end. The end is not just the end of suffering, but also the birth of spirituality. The below quote on BL prompted me to write on this topic:

Suffering your way to spirituality 2

The reason I strongly believe that this is true is because I have seen many such cases and know people who have emerged stronger after having undergone extreme pain and suffering in their lives and embraced the path of spirituality.

We will explore the different types of suffering and understand if all of them do lead to spiritual journey and we will also see is there are easy ways towards spirituality, i.e. without having to go through suffering.

Types of Suffering:

Suffering from Birth:

This is one of the most basic types of suffering where one is deprived of a good life: born in a poor family, they remain below the poverty line growing up and do not see a major lifestyle change,  mostly struggle for even basic necessities like food and shelter. For this person, suffering is as omnipresent as breathing. Will this kind of suffering lead to spiritual growth, highly unlikely, unless they connect with a spiritual guru who guides them towards it. In fact, it’s the poor who are easily drawn to many saints and sadhus who enchant them by tricks, misguiding them by showing lofty dreams and giving them a concocted version of spirituality.

Suffering due to a disability:

Though this may also be a suffering from birth, it can also happen from an accident. A physical or a mental deformity can bring in lot of suffering as it prevents one from leading a normal life. The worst part is that even if the individual tries to live a normal life, the society insists on segregating them into a ‘special’ category. Of course there are instances where people overcome these handicaps to emerged victorious, but those cases are few and far in between. Can such suffering, triggered by disability lead to spiritual growth, highly unlikely. But a guide or a mentor who gives them direction and shows them the light, may help to find the right path.

Suffering by Accident:

This typically relates to an incident in one’s life whether natural due to human error, can lead to an awakening. Natural incident could be when one is diagnosed with a life threatening disease or is badly injured/ permanently disabled due to an accident. And there is no immediate cure of the disease and one will have to go through lot of challenges for the most basic daily tasks. Incidents like this make one get a deeper understanding of life. Both these incidents accidental suffering can trigger one onto the path of spirituality.

Invited suffering:

Now you must be wondering why would anyone want to invite suffering to themselves the background to this is the interesting quote which I had read in a gym long back and it remains true even today –

Pain is inevitable , Suffering is optional !

So if you invite pain with the intent of enduring suffering just because one loves the activity, one can actually enjoy the suffering. Those who know me well they might be able to understand what I am relating here. Endurance sports like long distance running and trekking, involves hours of physical effort, when people engage in these, the idea does not sound logical to many people. Can such invited suffering experience also lead to spirituality? It’s heart to give a definite yes to the question, but an ordeal of this nature makes the athlete lot more grounded and appreciate other’s pains and hardships. And being kind and having gratitude is surely an important step towards being spiritual.

The alternative road to spirituality:

now that we have seen 3 different types of suffering and understood whether they do lead to spirituality or not it’s also important to know what are the alternative ways in which people get onto the path of spirituality.

Through Experience: As one grows up and experiences life’s ups and downs, especially when we have lived a fairly active life and come across people going through hardships, struggles, challenges and overcoming them, one tends to start questioning the purpose of life,  why we are on this planet and a questioning mind is the starting point for opening the doors of spirituality

Through Books and Lectures: For the impatient ones, who can’t wait till they are old, to initiate their journey for spirituality, reading can be a faster way to jumpstart the spiritual journey. There are of course, many such examples on os.me as well.  This way, many are able to appreciate various facets of life and this is a path which I often recommend youngsters,  as it can make a lot of difference in the way they live their life.

Of course, I am no guru on the topic and open for counter points and for more clarity on the topic. I feel that Spirituality has come to me very late in my life and I regret not having paid heed to countless times that my late father encouraged me to read many of the books that I now proudly identify myself with. With the onslaught of technology taking kids attention in all possible directions, a spiritual bent to life is more important than ever in the past. Be it early or late, its definitely the right way to understand life, appreciate its nuances and face its uncertainties.

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Hetal Sonpal

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