How does one react to sorrowful situations? How can one turn them into positive, growthful experiences? Beyond Sorrow suggests a framework for understanding and be-coming free of suffering. It points out that:
• Suffering is sometimes the only means to disenchant the mind from limited, finite attachments. A mindless preoccupied turns inward to seek a changeless truth.
• As the mind begins to surrender its attachments, it begins to move in harmony with all things and beings. In this joyous harmony, pain diminishes as joy proportionately increases.
• The process of growth through suffering and under-standing continues until the will of the individual completely withdraws from the temporal world and absorbs itself in contemplation of the Infinite.
On awakening to the state of transcendence, the authors say, the mind struggles no more. It merges into the very foundation of all thought, an everlasting presence, joyous and complete. The inner divinity, no longer shrouded in attachment, shines forth in its pure state of joyous ecstasy.
One of the most difficult points to reconcile in religious teachings is the paradox that suffering exists in God's creation. Seeing suffering in noble souls has often strained a devotee's faith. Throughout religious literature one can read of the earnest confusion of the devotee as he asks his Lord: "Why is there sorrow in your creation?"
The Eastern traditions offer profound insights into the prevailing Western attitude toward suffering. Suffering is not God's will. Suffering is not punishment for morally wrong actions. Suffering is caused by misunderstanding the nature of the world in which one lives.
The very nature of worldly existence-of the seasons, of evolution, of birth and death-is change. One's environment changes, one's body changes. Every living being experiences the six modifications of existence, birth, growth, disease, old age, and death. Vedantic philosophy is built upon this fundamental: The amount of suffering we experience is our individual, albeit unconscious, choice. To the extent we expect permanence from an impermanent creation, we suffer. To the extent we search for permanent joy in permanent truth, we discover that joy.
The creation is by nature temporal. If one attaches oneself to something, sorrow will necessarily arise when that thing changes. The physical body decays and dies-the most natural, inevitable event-and yet those attached to the body suffer so. The Vedantic answer is not to search for a sin that caused the pain, nor to blame the creator who gave one this environment. Vedantic scriptures only gently explain that to overcome sorrow, one must turn one's attention from the impermanent world to the permanent substratum of life. When the mind loses fascination for the physical body and turns inward to contemplate upon the higher, one can tap the source of infinite joy. In the Bhagavad Gitci, Lord Krpja speaks to Arjuna:
Enjoyments born of sense-objects are indeed the sources of misery: they have, 0 son of Kunti, a beginning and an end. The wise man does not rejoice in them. . . . He whose happiness is within, whose rejoicing is within, and whose light is within, that one, established in Brahman (truth), attains mergence in Brahman. (Bhagavad Gita V: 22, 24)
Experiences of sorrow can be profound aids to a seeker of truth, for such experiences convince the seeker, as no intellectual discussion could, of the transience of the world. Suffering should not be denied or disparaged; it is the only mechanism nature provides to hint that true bliss cannot lie in an external world. Sorrow can be the greatest teacher, for it points the way inward.
Thus, the root cause for suffering is ignorance of the unchanging reality, the source of bliss. In this ignorance one searches for happiness where happiness can never exist. Attachments develop and the disappointment that follows generates terrible sorrow. The solution rests, therefore, in gaining the knowledge of the real and permanent source of joy.
The value of Vedanta in a Western context, which has such strong roots in the Judeo-Christian sense of guilt and remorse, is significant. The need to discern the cause for sorrow is erased, the intent to determine blame is removed, and instead a more accepting and detached attitude grows.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAR403 Cover: PAPERBACK Edition: 2006 Publisher: CENTRAL CHINMAYA MISSION TRUST ISBN: 9788175971059 Language: English Size: 8.50 X 5.50 inch Pages: 92 (3 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.11 Kg