A Place where devotees gather to share inspiration.
"Holy Mother" painted by Swami Tadatmananda
Used courtesy of the Vedanta Society of Southern California
Reminders are always helpful.
This is among my favorite poems of inspiration......and reassurance.
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In this context, I am reminded of Swamiji's poem, 'The Cup'. I'm sure you all know it, but just a reminder:
This is your cup - the cup assigned to you from the beginning.
Nay, My child, I know how much of that dark drink is your own brew
Of fault and passion, ages long ago,
In the deep years of yesterday, I know.
This is your road - a painful road and drear.
I made the stones that never give you rest.
I set your friend in pleasant ways and clear,
And he shall come like you, unto My breast.
But you, My child, must travel here.
This is your task. It has no joy or grace,
But it is not meant for any other hand,
And in My universe hath measured place,
Take it. I do not bid you understand.
I bid you close your eyes to see My face.
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Dear Paritosh, Brandon, and Athony -- How many wonderful topics have Been rolled into the discussion on suffering! If I may, I will try to 'unravel the ball.'
This is exactly the example Holy Mother used in explaining suffering in our individual lives. It also explains the blessings. She said that through our passed actions we have rolled a ball off colored strands of twine. When we become spiritual aspirants, this ball begins to unravel and we must experience the effects until the entire ball is undone.
Mother also said that in a physical body one cannot escape suffering. She adds that even Incarnations must suffer because of taking human birth.
At the same time, she said the difference between a wise person and an ignorant person is that the wise person laughs at the time of his death, while the ignorant cry.
Suffering takes many forms and happens at many levels. But above all, how we each experience it is personal and relative to each of us.
Hence, no one, not even the divine incarnation,can escape what we consider as suffering from the physical standpoint (Buddha highlighted disease, old age, death) we can each define and RE-fine our experience of the condition or circumstance we are in. As spiritual aspirants, this is exactly what we want to do...are called to do, again and again. For we discover suffering isn't "out there" . It is in the complex layers of our inner being. Unually we experience mental suffering as gross, like physical suffering. But as we become more and more able to see through the gross, the mind becomes more tricky, and suffering becomes more subtle. A spiritual aspirant tries to be always aware and on the lookout for any suffering he or she experiences, for this awareness provides a key to awareness and spiritual growth.
This is a world apart from playing-victim. It is also worlds apart from putting on rose-colored glasses and playing-Pollyanna. Both the victim and Pollyanna are helplessly resigning to what ever uncomfortable circumstance they find themselves in. One is 'stuck', the other is 'in denial'. Again, such resignation is the opposite of the attitude of a devotee, who surrenders knowingly to God and is aware of his or her situation. Neither 'trapped' nor 'in denial', the devotee is consciously placing oneself and the resolution in God's care as a spiritual practice.
The spiritual aspirant tries to embrace whatever suffering he or she is experiencing and be transformed by it! It's a 'work in process'!
Are there times when we enjoy the company of God and experience no suffering? Certainly! These are the moments, days, weeks...of sunlight, which serve to carry us through those dark nights when all is being drained from us so that we may emerge into still brighter sunlight.
Is suffering necessary? Gosh, I don't know. But it is definitely our aide and friend. As Thakur said, so long as the child plays happily, the Mother need only watch from the other room. A more useful example is this, perhaps: Jesus told his disciples to love their enemies, adding, "Of what good is it to love only those who love you? Anyone can do this." In other words, Jesus was not simply handing down a 'rule'.......Rather he was giving his disciples a 'ruler,' something with which to measure their spiritual growth.
We do not get tested in pleasant times. This is the value of suffering in its many forms. Life challenges us in many ways, that we may grow. The main thing to remember is we are not in competition with others (although social maya may teach otherwise).