Q: Sadhguru, so many people in the world are suffering pain on a daily basis. How to deal with pain?

Sadhguru: Pain is a physical thing. Pain is of the body and it is good for you. When I say, “Pain is good for you,” I am not blessing you with pain. Pain is good for you because right now, you do not have the necessary intelligence to preserve your body if there is no pain in you. Wherever there is no pain in your body, for example your hair and nails, see in how many ways you have cut them.

Suppose there was no pain in the whole body, in the name of fashion, you would have destroyed yourself in no time. But now, if you are walking on the street and a bicycle comes, you step back. You don’t do this out of humility but because you know the consequence of pain. If there was no pain in your body at all, even if a big truck was coming towards you, you would not move.

Suffering is Self-Created

But suffering is self-created. How can there be pain and no suffering? In my own life, during my motorcycle days many years ago, I used to ride all over the country. Once, a freak accident occurred when a vehicle pulled back and pressed my leg against the footrest of the parked motorcycle. Even though the footrest is blunt, it cut my calf muscle right up to the bone.

I was in a remote place, so I went to a local dispensary which had no anesthetic facility. The doctor saw the wound and said, “No way we can do this. You have to rush to a bigger hospital because to have this fixed, you need anesthesia.” The hospital was a little far away, and it was in the opposite direction from where I wanted to go. I do not know how to turn back in my life, that is my problem. Whatever happens, I just go. So I said, “No. I will not go this way; I got to go that way.” He said, “You are not going anywhere with this.” While arguing, I was spreading a pool of blood in his clinic, and he finally gave in. My argument did not win, the blood won.

He started fixing me – no anesthesia. It took about 54 sutures on three different levels to put my muscle together. Through this whole procedure, I was having a conversation with the doctor, talking about this and that. He was sweating and puffing. After it was over, he asked me, “Is there no pain at all in your leg? You are just talking to me.” There was terrible pain but you do not have to make it into suffering. Suffering is always self-created. Pain is just of the body; it is a natural phenomenon. Without pain, you would not know if your leg got chopped off.

The Bodiless Yogi

There are many other examples. One wonderful example is Sadashiva Brahmendra. A stone panel of this is in the Dhyanalinga, where there is a man walking, his arm being chopped off. It happened in a place called Nerur in southern India. Sadashiva Brahmendra was a nirkaya – a bodiless yogi. How can someone be bodiless?

The only reason why you cause suffering to yourself and to anyone around you is because you are unaware.

As there is a physical body, there is a mental body and an energy body. The energy body is called pranamayakosha. In the energy body, there are 72,000 nadis or pathways through which the energy moves.

All the 72,000 nadis need not be active for you to exist here physically. With just a few fundamental ones, you can live a full physical life. If all the 72,000 nadis become active, you will have no sense of body. It will not exist in your experience. Can you imagine the freedom of sitting here without the body? For example, if you want to sit and meditate, your legs start hurting and after sometime, all you are is just leg pain. All other human qualities evaporate. But if you activate all the 72,000 nadis, if you sit here, there is no sense of body. You can use the body whichever way you want, but the body has no power over you.

Sadashiva was a nirkaya. Since he had no sense of body, the question of wearing clothes did not arise in his life. He was a naked yogi. He just walked as he was. On a certain day, he happened to walk into the king’s garden. The king was relaxing with his queens on the river bank. Sadashiva just walked naked in front of these women.

When you resist what is there right now, pain multiplies itself into suffering.

The king got very angry. “Who is this fool coming this way in front of my women?” He told his soldiers to find out who this was. They called Sadashiva. He did not turn back and kept walking. They got angry and coming from behind, struck him with a sword. Sadashiva’s right arm was severed but he just continued to walk. The soldiers were terrified. This man’s arm fell off but he did not even turn around. He just walked on. They knew this was not an ordinary man. They ran after him, and the king and everybody fell at his feet, brought him back and established him there in that garden. Even today, you will see his samadhi in Nerur. It is a very powerful place.

Pain is just there in the body. Suffering is something that you create. But you need not create it. If you are aware, you will not create suffering for yourself. The only reason why anyone would create suffering for himself is because he is unaware. Would you create suffering for yourself intentionally? No.

One example that is very popular around the world is Jesus. Nails were being driven into his hands and legs. If nails are driven into your hands and legs, what would you do? You would scream, yell and curse the whole world. But it seems he said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Can a man say this if he is suffering? It does not mean that there is no pain. Pain is there. Probably his body was so much more sensitive than yours. Definitely there was pain, but there was no suffering. When he said, “They know not what they do,” all he was saying is that they are unaware.

Expanding Your Awareness

The only reason why you cause suffering to yourself and to anyone around you is because you are unaware. Only that which you are aware of exists in your experience. What you are not aware of does not exist for you. That context has to be changed. Your awareness has to expand from a limited sphere to a larger perception.

When you resist what is there right now, pain multiplies itself into suffering. Already there is pain. You do not have to multiply it within yourself and make something else out of it. When the situation is already bad, you must see how to pass through it as gracefully as you can.

Editor’s Note: Check out the “5-minute Yoga Tools for Transformation” – simple upa-yoga practices for joy, peace, wellbeing, success and more. You can also download the app for android and iOS.

A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower April 2010.