What Are We Supposed To Do?

Pain and suffering image

It has been a long time that I haven’t written here.  Reasons are many – ‘Life’ being one of them.  Weekend has come and gone.  As usual I had a long list of things to do and then only did half the things on it, most of the time wasted and I lament about it on hindsight.

Sounds familiar?

When the head is scattered all over, heart in anguish about a myriad of things great and small, and everything else to do on top of it, is it any wonder that we look for distractions, lose focus, purpose and suffer?

There are layers of causes for suffering aren’t they? But really when we look at it – suffering is the same.

Pain and suffering generally is caused by:

  • Our own actions due to attachment and greed, driven by the desire to have a pleasurable life.
  • Others actions due to attachment again
  • Natural causes like earthquakes, floods, storms, fires caused due to imbalances in nature created by human mind’s selfish and greedy interests and desires to create pleasure.
  • War, crime, inequalities created by humans wielding power over the powerless to make their own lives pleasurable.

A human being, driven to create pleasure for himself/herself either through mind altering substances, or a quest to make more money in the hope that it will buy comforts, or fight for what they think is theirs and theirs alone, or rob others to gain personally or expect others to behave a certain way so the self can remain safe and unaltered – causes pain and suffering.

The ‘want’ to have a peaceful and happy life drives people to obtain it, grab it, hold it and not let go of it; and they will do anything to get that from an individual, to families, to communities, to countries to the world in general.

Question – Is individual happiness different to collective happiness?  Can we collectively be peaceful if there are individuals suffering regardless of the causes?

The scale of suffering is different but suffering itself is not.  When comparisons come into picture as to whether my suffering is greater or insignificant than yours, we tend to suppress it, put it into some sort of perspective and try to move on.  Suffering that threatens one’s existence is always perceived to be more urgent than suffering caused as a result of inability to fulfill the next desire, but, for the person who can’t satisfy his/her desire, the pain in that moment feels like an existential threat.  Comparing with others who are less fortunate might temporarily ease the pain, generally out of guilt or shame, but continues to prick anyway to the point that we use all sorts of justifications to ease that guilt and satisfy the desire.

The point I am trying to make is that as long as we don’t accept that our greedy selfish wants and desires cause our pain, as long as we compare with others and justify our relative existence, we continue to suffer in pain.

Our happiness, our pleasure, our need for wanting these things and our desire to get it at any cost is what drives us to live.  Any disturbance to that flow causes pain.  The size and nature of the desire doesn’t matter.  Individuals caught in this web becomes the society. So the war that is happening between Palestine and Israel, the continuous suffering in Somalia and West Africa etc., are large screen dramas projected from the little screens of minds like  mine and yours.  We are not removed from that.

Philosopher J Krishnamurthy says, “Where there is a process of desire at work, there must be the process of isolation through belief, because obviously you believe in order to be more secure economically, spiritually and also inwardly.”

Collectively we are isolated.  I hear the question in your mind – “What are we supposed to do then?”

Let me know when  you know the answer to that please…..

Until next time ( and hopefully it will be soon…)

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari



About Padma Ayyagari

I am a Human Values Activist, passionate about and trying to live steeped in Spirituality. I live with the knowledge that Love is the undercurrent of all human life. I believe in Unity of Faiths, Unity in diversity and try and live my life with unity in thought, word and deed. Helping others to lead a life of practical spirituality that will give peace of mind is my passion and life purpose.
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