The path of pain

To lead a spiritual life is projected to be full of bliss. If we just chant enough rounds, we will be happy. Surrender, and be free. Liberation is not enough of happiness, we can go even further!

We don’t talk much about the pain which is integral in devotional life. I have come to believe that pain is as much, if not more a part of progressing in bhakti. Usually we frame pain and hardships through bad karma, but what if its part of the process? The necessary component to wreak change in us. Are you able to progress through beneficial circumstances? I’m not. Sure, superficially it’s easier to chant etc. but its not real progress that create lasting changes in me.

We automatically shy away from everything that is uncomfortable, whether it’s physical or mental. We are designed to move towards what we like, what is comfortable and we do everything in our power to avoid pain. But at the same time we are obsessed with our problems. When we talk with confidantes, we talk about our struggles. We focus so much on problems, because we don’t accept it. We don’t accept uncomfortableness and pain. We don’t want uncertainty.

The mind is in a constant flux of accepting and rejecting, and we prefer to focus on the rejection of what causes us pain.

But by choosing a spiritual life we actually seek pain, for moving away from material life brings pain to check us if this is really what we want and may be to remind us that this is no place for a gentlewoman.

I’m being forged in the path of pain. I used to think that because I’m a devotee, I should have an easier time of life. Progress through blissful ignorance. My resistance to pain instead shows how my ego want to enjoy. If I had true servant attitude, I would accept the pain and consider it Krishnas mercy. My resistance shows I am no servant. The pain is there for me to surrender my will to His and if pain is the way to do it, I should be grateful. But of course I’m not.

I see how things I thought were beneficial, instead turns into ashes. A relationship that was joyful, turns into something really bad. The heavenly apartment turned hell when upstairs neighbor is a psycopath. A need for change is blissful in the beginning and turns out to be a bad decision later.

That happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects and which appears like nectar at first but poison at the end is said to be of the nature of passion.

Bhagavad-gita 18.38

The harder your ego is, the harder the pain to soften you. The softer you are, the easier the lesson is.

What I am learning now is to embrace the pain. Embrace the hardships. The spiritual path is not for comfort, to relax at our position. The pain is there to propell us forward, to destroy the ego, to ensure we move forward.

There is a danger in growing complacent, cozying up to spirituality. If something feels painful to you, embrace it and  process it. Google it, seek professional help, turn to trusted friends. Understand that whatever it is, it’s an opportunity to go deeper into who you are.

The pain is not there to be rejected. It just is.