Causes of suffering

Suffering and misery are inevitable in life. While we cannot wish away our suffering it is definitely worthwhile to understand some of the causes behind our suffering.

The causes of misery are either in our past, in our present or in an imagined future.

Painful Past: Quite a few people suffer from this sort of misery. These people look back at their past lives and keep wishing that it had occurred in a different way. They are not able to come to terms with their failures, their sorrows and their indiscretions of the past. It really does not make sense to moan a painful past. What has happened has happened and we need to get over it. There is no sense in tying oneself into knots about the past which cannot be changed. We just need to get over it and move on in life.

Imagined Future: Then there are others who wish for a rosy future and fret and fume in the present. They sincerely hope for something in their future – a promotion, getting through some exam or acquiring some material possession. They are so are wound up in all their fantasies that they find the present drab and hence suffer. They live in an imagined world and fail to see reality as it is. It does not make sense to spoil the present based on an imagined future

Unbearable Present:  The third type of suffering happens in the present. The causes behind this kind of suffering are many.

Conflict with our world view: This is the most common type of suffering that we face in the present i.e. we expect the world to behave in a certain way but people act in a completely different way. We expect our friends, our spouses, our colleagues to treat us with certain sensitivity. When this does not happen we feel utterly miserable.

Ego: This is another root cause of our misery. We tend have a certain opinion of ourselves. In some it may even border on vanity. When somebody treats us with disdain or insults us we feel utterly hurt and our ego is crushed. This can cause a lot of undue suffering.

Desire: This is the third cause of suffering in the present. We want many things in our life. We want money, wealth, recognition and respect. When our desires are not met we suffer.

While there is no easy way out of our suffering, becoming aware of the causes of our misery enables us to handle our lives better. As we learn the root causes we can devote our attention to the causes and eradicate them.

In this way we can at least strive for a more peaceful existence.


Human beings are the only creatures who are capable of completely deceiving themselves. Our mind can create a web of lies and so completely fool us that we will not know what is right and what is wrong.

Take for example the mindless bomb blasts in Mumbai today. What can one think of the perpetrators of such a cruel act. What must be going through the minds of these people.

Clearly these terrorists must harbor a lot of hatred for all mankind in general. How can they justify the loss of lives. I am certain that they must be justifying their deeds by thinking that to achieve their goal they have to sacrifice lives. They must be rationalizing their actis by arguing with themselves and completely fooling themselves of what is right or what is wrong,

What propels them to commit such acts? Do they think of lives lost, the people injured? Do they realize that they will be putting a lot of people in pain. Do they choose to ignore all of this and subjugate all human suffering to their cause whatever it might be.

Are the terrorists incapable of feeling or is their mind so warped that they cannot comprehend tenderness and love.

They must be utilizing their reason for all the wrong purposes.

When people do not pursue their lives by following true north principles of love, compassion, kindness are bound to be led astray by their mind.

The mind can become the vessel for dialbolical deeds accompanied by thoughts justifying and reasoning the devilish act.

The mind of these terrorists must be devoid of any possible human trait.

May they wake up to good sense and truth. May these people see the innocent smile a child. May they realize the joy of happiness gained by making others happy.

The paradox of being both firm and flexible

Good human behavior is a paradox of sorts. While on the one hand we need to be firm there are times when we have to flexible.

Right living must be based on the highest virtues of love, kindness, compassion, integrity, humility, tolerance, commitment etc. If we were to base our lives on these values we will find that we have to be supple or flexible at times and firm or rigid during other times.

Take for example the virtues of love, kindness and compassion. If we truly love others or want to be kind to them, then we really have to elevate ourselves several notches to our higher self. Being kind and loving requires that we accommodate any acts of transgression on the part off others. We must be able to accept with a smile any offensive or rude remark. We must be able to return unkindness with love and kindness.

In other words our behavior based on the values of love, kindness and compassion must be like a blade of grass that bends under the weight of water droplet, only to regain its uprightness once the droplet has fallen off. Hence kindness and unconditional love requires in us a tolerance and acceptance of errors. In this situation we have to really supple and large hearted to receive any kind of bad behavior.

On the other hand virtues like integrity, humility or commitment behooves us to be firm in our behavior. We should not flinch in the face of money, fame or fortune. These values of integrity or honesty can never be compromised. We should never allow us to be tempted by quick money, fame or power.

We have to be firm in our resolve to see through any rough weather we may encounter in our lives. We should never weaken in our attitude and never compromise on these key values. In these aspects we need to be like the lotus leaf which remains unaffected by the water droplets on it. The principles of integrity, commitment are true north principles and should remain so through thick and thin.

Hence it can be seen that when we base our lives on virtues of kindness, love, integrity or commitment we need to be both firm and flexible as the virtue demands. It is difficult to do but is the real test of our character.