Becoming Conscious of Your Suffering
Q: The more I seek the spiritual path, the more confused I become. Yet at the same time there seems to be a kind of clarity – a confused clarity. Will a time come when there will be clarity without confusion, and if so, how do I create that?
Sadhguru: The more you seek the spiritual path, the more confused you are becoming. That’s a good sign, because confusion is always a better state to be in than living in stupid conclusions. With the stupid conclusions that you had made in your life, there was comfort, solace and convenience. There was a false sense of security in these.
But once you step onto a spiritual path, everything becomes turmoil. All the things that you were comfortable with look stupid now. Things that you valued and cherished suddenly look so insignificant and not worthwhile. Everything has turned upside down. There’s a very beautiful Zen saying: “When you are ignorant, mountains are mountains, rivers are rivers, clouds are clouds, trees are trees. Once you enter the spiritual path, mountains are no more just mountains, rivers are no more just rivers, clouds aren’t just clouds, trees aren’t just trees. But once you arrive, once you are enlightened, once again mountains are mountains, rivers are rivers, clouds are clouds, trees are trees.” From ignorance to enlightenment, it is a full circle back to the same place, but a huge difference, a world of difference, a difference which is indescribable.
Becoming conscious of your suffering
Once you enter the spiritual path, everything is in turmoil, everything is in question. You don’t know where you stand – you don’t know anything. Before knowing anything about spirituality, you were at least comfortable, self-satisfied. You ate breakfast in the morning, drank coffee, and you thought that was the ultimate. Now, nothing matters. You don’t feel like eating, like sleeping, like doing anything, because nothing is really worthwhile anymore. It never was worthwhile. You just deceived yourself into believing that it was. If it was truly worthwhile, how could it go away? If you truly knew what’s what, how could you get confused? The very fact that you are confused means you didn’t know. You had made wrong conclusions just for the sake of comfort and security.
If comfort is all you are seeking, you must psych yourself up to believe you are perfect, that everything is okay with your life. “My house is good, my husband is wonderful, my life is great, my children are fantastic, even my dog is fabulous. This is it. This is life.” You must tell yourself this every day and go on with it. It will be quite good, nothing wrong with it. It’s just that it is limited, and this being will never settle for anything limited. It doesn’t matter in how many ways you try to fool yourself, somewhere there’s a longing. Carefully look at all the happiness that you have known in your life. On the surface there’s happiness, but somewhere deep inside, there is a certain suffering in everything. The suffering is just because the suppressed being is always longing. To even become conscious of this suffering, people take lifetimes.
Entering the spiritual path means you have become conscious of your suffering. You were suffering unconsciously; now you have become conscious of it. Conscious suffering is always deeper than unconscious suffering, but it is good, at least you are conscious about it. As long as you don’t become conscious, the suffering will always remain. Once you have become conscious, it need not remain forever. There is a possibility, isn’t it?
Entering the spiritual path is a possibility, being with a Guru is a possibility. If the possibility has to become a reality, the first thing is that you are willing to see everything the way it is. You are at least willing to recognize your limitations. If you want to hide your limitations, where is the question of liberation? You have destroyed the possibility completely. If you are chained right now and if freedom has to come someday, the first and foremost thing to see is that you are chained. If you refuse to see that you are chained, the question of liberating yourself never arises.
When you realize that you are chained, there will be pain and suffering, there will be struggle and confusion. Old memories will say, “I was better off before.” This is the way of your mind. When you were in high school, your mind told you, “Oh, kindergarten was so fantastic.” You know how you went to kindergarten! When you went to college you said, “Oh, my high school days were so wonderful,” but we know how you went through high school also. When you were done with your education, you said, “My university days were the most blissful days!” We know how you struggled to write your assessments, to find the book that you wanted in the library, how you suffered all those classes and those professors; but now that it’s over, you claim it was fantastic. As a part of your survival technique, memory has a way of erasing certain unpleasant things and making the past always more pleasant than what is there right now. This is a trick of survival. Otherwise, psychologically, you will crack up. You always have something to fall back on and say, “Oh, it was wonderful.”
But now there is a confused clarity. Isn’t that good? You are confused and still clear. On a certain day, a farmer with a truck full of animals is on his way to the market for auctioning. He comes upon a hitchhiker and gives the man a lift. On the way to town, the farmer starts sipping on some home brew, swerves off the road and crashes in a big ditch. The hitchhiker is thrown out of the truck and into the ditch, with shattered ribs, a busted leg and a smashed arm – he’s totally in pieces. The farm animals are also seriously messed up. The farmer is the only one with only a few cuts and bruises. He gets out of the truck and inspects his animals. The chickens have broken legs and wings, and can barely move. “These chickens are useless now,” the farmer explodes. “Nobody will buy them!” He grabs his shotgun from the truck and shoots the chickens. Next, he sees that the pigs are all busted and bleeding. “These pigs are worthless too!” So he reloads the gun and shoots them, too. The farmer then looks at the sheep in the same state as the chickens and the pigs, and screams, “Worthless sheep!” He reloads his shotgun and blows away the sheep. The injured hitchhiker witnesses all this carnage in great horror. The farmer then moves over to the ditch, peers inside, and shouts, “Are you okay, down there?” Instantly the hitchhiker, crawling up really fast, says, “SURE, I’VE NEVER FELT BETTER IN MY WHOLE LIFE!”
That means even if we throw you into hell, it doesn’t matter, you will be clear. I am not interested in sending people to heaven. I am interested in making people in such a way that even if they go to hell, nobody can make them suffer. That’s freedom. “I want to go to heaven,” is a huge bondage. Suppose you land in the wrong place? Suppose someone hijacked your airplane on the way to heaven. He didn’t crash it, he just landed it in the wrong place – you are finished. You are always living with something that can be taken away from you by somebody or something. True liberation is when nobody can take away anything from you, and that which can’t be taken away from you is your blissfulness, your inability to suffer. “I want to go to heaven,” means you are still capable of suffering. That’s why you want to go to a good place.
Gautama repeatedly said, “I don’t want to go to heaven. I want to go to hell.” People thought he was crazy, but that’s how a liberated man will be. “What’s my problem with hell? Anyway they can’t make me suffer, so I will go to hell.” This man is free. So if you are confused and clear, that’s good. “When will all my confusions go away? When will absolute clarity come?” I don’t want to fix a date, but I bless you, let it be today. Why tomorrow? There is a lot of time left today. Let it be today.
Editor’s Note: Excerpted from Mystic’s Musings. Not for the faint-hearted, this book deftly guides us with answers about reality that transcend our fears, angers, hopes, and struggles. Sadhguru keeps us teetering on the edge of logic and captivates us with his answers to questions relating to life, death, rebirth, suffering, karma, and the journey of the Self. Download the sample pdf or purchase the ebook.