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Want a life free of suffering? || Acharya Prashant (2021)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
4 min
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Questioner: You have said that one must learn to suffer graciously and be calm and firm even while going through it. I am just too anxious to pass through this suffering phase as early as possible; I am not able to keep my calm and go through it with dignity. What should I do?

Acharya Prashant: The reason is that we have a utopian image of a suffering-free life. Somewhere we have been taught this confidence that one day life will be a heavenly bed of roses or something, so we take that as a possibility. We believe that such a thing can happen—“it’s just that such a thing is not happening with me.” Now, that’s very frustrating. You believe that a utopian bliss is indeed possible, as it happens in the movies. What do they say? “And they lived happily ever after.” So, you believe that that kind of a fancy world indeed can exist. And when you find that it does not exist in your life, it makes you very, very frustrated; that comparison makes you very frustrated. And we have internalized that utopia.

Suffering per se is not insufferable. Suffering per se is not a source of great sorrow or frustration. It is your state of suffering compared with the utopian heaven that makes you frustrated; the comparison makes you frustrated.

Now, how to keep the comparison aside? By seeing that the utopia is purely imaginary. You are not born to be in bliss. Suffering is an inevitable, ineluctable fact of life. We are born in suffering, we live in suffering, and death is a suffering. So, why do we keep imagining a life without suffering? Don’t imagine that, because the more you imagine such a life, the more you suffer. And you imagine such a life in order to reduce or minimize your suffering. Such an imagination, rather than minimizing your suffering, only aggravates it.

Do away with the hope that one day you will come to a fabled land where everything is just perfect. The apples are perfect, they never get rotten; the water is perfect, the skies are perfect, the birds and bees are perfect, the lions and the deers are perfect, and of course, your darling is perfect—or darlings, because if there is perfection, there ought to be an abundance of darlings. That kind of a land doesn’t exist, so drop that hope. It’s a very self-defeating, a very destructive hope.

Take life as it is, and then do your best to raise it as much as possible. Remember, you will never succeed in raising it to the best place, but you can do your best to raise it. Get the right definition of bestness, please. There exists no best place you can raise your life to; there exists no end point of perfection you can target. Then is life to be spent in mediocrity? No. In what does excellence lie then? Excellence lies in doing your best to raise it. But even if you do your best, there would be no best point you would ever attain.

Just do your best, and that’s the best thing. And if you are doing your best, a strange thing happens, almost miraculously: you then tend to forget the distance you have covered, the measure of success you have obtained. Those considerations become progressively meaningless. Why? Because you have already done your best. What’s the point in measuring your success now? You anyway couldn’t have done anything more or anything better; you have already done the utmost possible to you.

So, then you don’t even seek to compare. You say, “The best has been done; I don’t even bother to know the result now. There is no option left to better what I have done. What I have done is just about the maximum I could do.” And that’s the best way to live.

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