Tapasya is all about acceptance. It is a fact that we all have trials and tribulations. There is nothing we can do to avoid them. The problems start when we complain and wince at each and every hardship. Instead of facing our suffering straight on, we look for any excuse to run away from it. This causes even greater distress and suffering. Master Sivandandaji often said: “Bear insult, bear injury.” It is what builds up our spiritual muscles.
Suffering makes us realize how vulnerable we are and makes us turn inward. It forces us to look deeper into life and its meaning. We have to understand and acknowledge our weaknesses and to rectify them in order to find peace. We can scream and shout all we want and place blame everywhere except ourselves. All that will happen is that we will keep on burning until we boil and scream for help, or totally surrender, depending on our nature. When we think of suffering as a tool for our growth, the suffering takes on a different hue. Tapasya is this burning that makes us learn to detach from all those desires that haunt the heart. Why do we suffer? We suffer because we feel that a certain desire is not fulfilled, or because our ego is injured due to pride, or for so many personal reasons! Whenever “I, Me, Mine” takes residence in our minds, there is suffering. Notice it!
Peace is experienced by anyone who lives without longing for anything,
free of all personal desires and with no individual sense of “me” and “mine.” (The Living Gita Bk. 2 –71)
If every single desire were fulfilled, we would never stop wanting. And, as yogis, we know how painful “wants” can be. How magical it feels to be free of desires!
When all the desires that surge in the heart are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal.
When all the knots that strangle the heart are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal. ( Katha Upanishad. 3-14, Easwaran)
We are here on this earth to grow and understand our true spiritual nature. To get to the Ocean of Divine Peace, there have to be hurdles. What fun is it to have a treasure without the search? Sometimes, while we are suffering, the pain is so tremendous that we feel we cannot get away from it. It is at these times, that we should focus on the fact that our lives on this earth are temporary and should surrender to the Supreme Being. If we just look back at every single crossroad we have faced in our past, we will see one truth clearly. That truth is that we have actually surpassed everything that we thought we never would! So, in times of trouble, know with all your heart that this, too, shall pass—know that there is a Divine Energy with us, constantly looking after us. To flow with life is to accept both good times and bad times. Without one, the other cannot exist. The practice of contemplation and meditation will help us to witness our true nature. Then all we need to do is practice certain disciplines to purify our body, mind and soul. (Please read The Living Gita Ch.17, slokas 14-17) Over the years, I have realized that service—just doing good and being good from the heart, and definitely not expecting anything in return—has been the best medicine, not only for me, but for many. Our Beloved Sri Swami Satchidananda always advised us to seek peace above all else: “Make peace your God.” So next time you burn, just know you are being purified!! And that eases the pain.