Is suffering necessary for awakening?

SR Generic_ English

Question: When intense suffering is created, that usually wakes up people. But is it possible that one can wake up without suffering, living very comfortable life?

Listener: For example, if I am fed up with my husband, I just wake up. But that situation doesn’t come!

Acharya Prashant: You see, only the sleeping one can wake up. Please understand!

To wake up, there is a precondition. And that is that you must be?

Listeners: Sleeping.

AP: And if you are sleeping, then you would be suffering. So, to wake up, it is necessary, it is obvious that there would be suffering involved in the process of awakening. Otherwise, what are you awakening from? If there is no sleep, where is the question of awakening? Then you are abiding in your Buddha Nature. Fine. There is no question of any further awakening. And if there is slumber, and ignorance, and sleep, then it is always accompanied with?


It is not possible to be living in illusions and yet not suffer. But it is possible, to not to be conscious of the suffering.

L: To suffer happily.

AP: To suffer happily. Or, to not to know that you are suffering.

One has to be deeply in love with oneself, one has to be deeply sensitive towards oneself to experience the suffering. If you don’t love yourself enough, then you will happily take suffering. And not complain.

After all, suffering is resistance towards pain. If you have no resistance then you have no suffering. Then there will be pain and yet you will not suffer.

Suffering is when you start saying, “No” to pain. When pain is welcome, then there is no suffering.

L: Can there be another way around too, like external worldly things are making you so happy, you are so content, then how would you see the end of it?

AP: You will require an event like the one that Buddha faced. Very happy, very contented in your own personal blissful world, you go out for a walk, for a ride and what do you encounter? Misery. A dead man, a sick man, an old man. And because you are not exposed to those things at all, in your Universe of happiness, so they strike you all the more. Like a man who has no immunity to certain bacteria or virus. Because he has never been exposed to them.

But don’t crave for it. It’s okay.

L: It will be painful.

AP: It can pain you, but you will not call it as something unwanted. You will not take it as unwanted.

Go and visit a beauty salon and see what all is happening to the women there. All their hair are being plucked. Doesn’t it hurt, isn’t it painful when your eyebrows are being plucked out? But they don’t call it suffering. That is to welcome pain.

That is to welcome pain.

You ask them, “Are you suffering?”

“It’s Good (enacting the person whose eyebrows are being plucked)”

L: But in the hope of future…

AP: That’s what!

Inscrutable are the ways of the existence. All we can really, closely, look at is our this personal life. Because it is available to the senses for observation. This is our only hope. We know so little about the Saints, what do we talk of?

To know Buddha, first of all, you should be one with your own Buddha nature. How do we talk about the Buddha? But yes, we can talk about our behavior towards the grocer, towards the maid, towards the hawker, towards the driver, towards the cook, towards the stranger, towards the kid, towards the man, towards the woman, that we know. That we honestly know of. So better to talk of that.

You know, what sensitivity means?

Sensitivity means that now you want to know. You want to know where your beauty product is coming from. You want to know where your shirt and trouser is coming from. You just can’t take anything. The more you know, the more you get into trouble. Now, you know where your packaged food is coming from. Now, you know what are your taxes going towards. It becomes difficult for you to pay taxes. Your government is fighting an unjust war using your money. Becomes difficult to pay the taxes.

And, once you come to know that the house that you are occupying covers an area that is not available to 99% of human population. It becomes difficult to live in that house. Once you know that the average spent on one shopping trip that you make, is more than the annual income, the annual income of 50% of world’s households, it becomes difficult to happily go to the shopping mall and spend money. Now, you are getting into trouble. Now, your daughter won’t take it very kindly. Now, all the happy relationships will be under strain.

And, it’s okay if you don’t know. I sometimes advise that you better not know.

L: But still the urge will be there.

AP: That urge is not there.

Very few are those in which the urge is really there. Others are just faintly curious. Tell us, tell us! And if you don’t tell them, they forget all about it.

It’s not really a deep burning question. It’s a flimsy curiosity. If it’s answered it’s okay if it’s not answered, that too is okay. To such persons, I say, continue with your contented life. Don’t unnecessarily, try to be adventurous, you will get hurt. Kids must not play with knives and fire. Continue with your life, don’t disturb it. Buddhas are dangerous.

This is one thing, that you know, we all must keep in mind, Spiritual adventurism leads to only more misery. It’s like kids burning their hands while playing with crackers. There is no hurry. Indian tradition says, “You have millions of births available.” Unless you are really feeling the pangs, unless your heart is being taken and twisted, convoluted…

L: Acharya Ji, if it’s not that severe we are not twisted. But at the same time, not settled, then?

AP: Then you have a choice. You can continue or you may drop out.

But one should not just unnecessarily, you know…

L: It’s not a pastime.

AP: It’s not a pastime. It’s serious business. Playing with fire. Scriptures really ARE FIRE.

L: It is also that the students were rejected as well…

AP: Oh…Oh.

It’s not as if the students were being rejected as well, only the very lucky ones were taken in.

Even Kabir was initially rejected. But he was smart, he actually played a trick upon his Guru. You must read about it.

So, that’s the kind of severe entrance criteria. That was not really so in Kabir’s case, the Guru was adamant that the cast must be proper. But, even otherwise, it has not been in the tradition to just casually accept someone as a disciple. It is said that the moment the Guru accepts someone as a disciple, all the Karm-Phal of the Shishya, of the disciple, comes to the Guru. It’s like drinking poison. So, it’s a tremendous load that the Guru is taking upon himself, he should be careful. The student would be liberated, but the Guru would be!

So, there were extensive details on how to go to the scriptures? How to hold them in the highest veneration? How to chant the Mantras? How to pronounce? The whole literature was transmitted orally, so pronunciation was important. So, there were elaborate guidelines about everything. It’s not something that you can, you know, just use as a self-help book. You are taking the Upanishad and you are casually reading..

You must prepare yourself well. Tradition says, “You must have ensured that you are taking the right diet, you must have cleansed the body, you must be sitting in an isolated place, and then you should open the scripture.”

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Is suffering necessary for awakening? The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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  1. “One has to be deeply in love with oneself, one has to be deeply sensitive towards oneself to experience the suffering. If you don’t love yourself enough, then you will happily take suffering. And not complain.”

    This is the reason why we suffer a lot. We do not love ourselves and hence keep on suffering. Thank you Acharya Ji for clarity.


    1. Dear remembrance1blog

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