How to Stop Being a Victim
Suffering, although seemingly inevitable, is optional and self-inflicted, is what Sadhguru explains in this piece. While we may not have absolute control over the situations around us, we do have the power to choose how we experience and respond to them.
Questioner: I come from a family with a stream of incredible disasters. How to help people who only suffer?Sadhguru: This may not sound compassionate to you, but you must understand this – do you want solace, or do you want a solution? If you want a solution, there is a certain way to handle it. If you want solace, I can say comforting, nice things, but that is not a solution. It makes you comfortable for a moment; the next moment, it will be the same thing again. If you want a solution, you need to understand, you are only suffering your memories. You are not suffering life.
Your memories exist in two places – one is your body, another one is your mind. Both are accumulations that you created over a period of time. It is like the clothing you wear… right now, I am wearing lose clothing, so I am constantly aware of it. Suppose I was wearing very tight nylon clothes; after some time, I would not know which my skin is and which my clothing. That is all that has happened to you – you do not know which is you, which is your body, which is your mind – it has all become like you, because you are wearing it so tight. If you have done Isha Kriya, you will know this: “I’m not the body; I’m not even the mind.” If you sit here, and there is a little space between you and your body, between you and your mind – this is the end of suffering.
You have only two kinds of sufferings: physical suffering and mental suffering. If you maintain a little distance between you and your mind, this is the end of suffering. This mind is a tremendous possibility, but most human beings are using it as a misery manufacturing machine. I even see that today, for whatever reasons, suffering seems to be popular. When someone talks about pain, people clap their hands; when someone talks about joy, people laugh at them.
Even when you were children, this happened to you. Your parents were doing this to you unknowingly. Probably you are doing this to your children. If your children are jumping with joy and screaming, you will tell them to shut up. But if they sit in one corner, you will ask them what happened. From that time, they learn that suffering brings benefits. But whatever benefits you get, if you are suffering, what is the point? If you are joyful, and you do not get a damn thing – so what?
So do not romanticize your suffering – it is not a great thing. And you are doing it yourself. Whether you are miserable or joyful right now is entirely your choice. Other people can create comfortable or uncomfortable situations only on the outside. Suffering is entirely your making. Other people can create situations; they cannot make you or me suffer.
Suffering is your choice. You have heard the word “Buddha.” Most of you will think of Gautama, the Buddha, but Gautama is not the only Buddha. There have been thousands before him and thousands after him, and still are. “Buddha” means just this: Bu means buddhi or “intellect,” dha means “one who is above.” One who is above his intellect is a Buddha. One who is in his intellect, is a non-stop suffering human being. If something happens, they will suffer; if nothing happens, they will suffer. They know how to make everything into suffering. If you were below the mind, you would not suffer so much.
Other creatures do not suffer as much as you. For them, if their physical needs are taken care of, they are quite fine. If the stomach is full, they are good. But you are not like that – you suffer hunger one way; you suffer indigestion another way. Please do not romanticize your suffering. You are not anyone’s victim; you are a victim of your own making. This may not sound very compassionate to you, but if you want a solution, you must understand the source of your suffering is you, and you alone. Other people can only create situations. They may say or do something, but whether you suffer that or not is left to you.
It is like you were going on the street, and someone called you names; let us say they called you an idiot. You would boil within yourself, “Who is this fool who calls me an idiot. He is a big idiot; he is…” whatever. At 2:00 in the morning, you are still lying in your bed, twisting and turning, still thinking about this guy who called you an idiot. He said just one word and went away, and it has such an impact on you. Then what he said must be true. Just about anyone can cause misery to you. And if none of them are there, you do it to yourself. Please, stop this. There is no romance in misery. If you are enjoying a tragic life, then enjoy it; do not complain.
Some people like romantic movies; some people like comedy; some people like horror movies. If you like misery, do it, but you must enjoy it. People go to watch a Shakespearean tragedy because they enjoy someone else’s suffering. If you like your own suffering, enjoy it – it is up to you, but do not create suffering and think someone else is doing it to you. In today’s world, if someone is physically harming you, you know what to do. Do not think someone is mentally harming you. No one is mentally harming you. They are doing what they know best. You are harming yourself. Suppose I know only abuse. I will stand here and abuse you endlessly. The filth is in my mouth, not in your mind.
So do not get this victim syndrome. You are not a victim of anyone except yourself. It is entirely your own making. Until you see that, there is no way out of it. This is the most fundamental thing you need to see: Whatever you are right now and whatever you are not, is fundamentally your responsibility. Please make that happen.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article was originally published in the monthly Forest Flower magazine – October 2019. Print subscriptions are also available.