Letters of Encouragement
In this letter, Swami Kriyananda responds to a person who was suffering because of the misfortunes of others.
Thank you for your sweet touching letter. It is good to have a heart soft enough to feel the sufferings of others. But now ask yourself: Does God suffer? His nature is pure bliss. Is He then callous and unfeeling towards human suffering? Is He perhaps unaware that people suffer?
Don’t you see? Bliss is the answer to suffering, not merely something that we feel when suffering has been temporarily forgotten. It is not by jumping into the water and drowning with the drowning man that we help him, but by standing on dry ground and rescuing him. (Or by swimming, if we are strong enough, but certainly not by voluntarily drowning, too.)
Suffering is a result of delusion, not of outward circumstances. There have been people in the darkest dungeons (Benvenuto Cellini was a good example), and people suffering from the worst diseases (consider Ramakrishna, St. Teresa, and countless others) who have known only joy.
There have been people living in palaces, surrounded by wealth, fame, and all the goods of this world, whose suffering was constant because in their minds they had no peace, were selfish, and did not care for others.
Joy and suffering depend entirely on attitudes of the mind. The poorest beggar has found bliss when his attitude was right. The richest king has found only misery when his attitude was wrong.
Cellini actually prayed for the grace to be in a dungeon again, so much joy did he find there, because his mind was on God. And he was a worldly man, not a saint. People also found God in concentration camps.
So the more we feel of people’s suffering, the more we should give them, or long to give them, the healing touch of joy, and not only join them in their suffering. This is true Christlike compassion.
When we ourselves know suffering, it is because of wrong actions of the past that have created these thoughts in our minds. We strengthen those karmas when we give into them.
Dear friend, try to live more in your Self, and with others who have joy in themselves. Meditate more. And thank God for the blessing of loving Him, and even for the blessing of every test He sends you. Truly, it is all His grace.
In divine friendship