Letters of Encouragement
In this letter Swami Kriyananda responds to a man whose suffering from physical pain had caused him to become bitter toward life and God.
I know you feel you are being honest in the bitterness of your appraisal of life. Still, you seem a reasonable man, and on that basis I would like to offer you these few thoughts. And I offer them also as one who has known suffering in life.
My faith, too, in God was severely shaken—not faith in His existence, nor even His love for others, but certainly in His love for me, a lack that seemed to me the more painful for the selectivity of its focus.
There was a thought that helped me at that time, one that I hope you won’t take amiss if I share it with you. For I, too, am a reasonable man, but during that trial I remembered the many times in my life when my ability to reason had been affected by my feelings—even to the extent of becoming totally clouded, when my feelings were distorted.
The logic on those occasions had seemed so transparent, so ineluctable, that I hadn’t imagined that it might be wrong. Yet, when the upset in my feelings subsided, the logic changed with them, giving me finally a calmer, more balanced perspective.
Looking back on those occasions, what I resolved to do during my time of severe testing was to suspend judgment for the time being, and wait for a time when I might view my experience without the intense aversion which, I knew, was affecting my reason. In fact, that time did come at last, though only after the passage of years. The marvelous thing was that, when it came, I was only grateful for what I had experienced.
I’m not going to ask you even to imagine gratitude for what you’re suffering, but I do ask you to suspend judgment for the time being. I might even put it to you this way: Why suffer twice? You are experiencing physical pain: Why add to it mental torture?
I’ve tried this simple technique many times since those dark days in my own life. Whenever things have gone wrong and I’ve been tempted to get upset about them, I’ve told myself, “This isn’t the time for me to pass judgment. For now, let me try to accept things as they are without trying to understand what they mean. If in fact they do have a meaning for me, perhaps it will come clear later on.”
So far, it always has come clear, in the end.
In divine friendship