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There is Only Suffering in this World

by Swami Sivananda

Birth is suffering; disease is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow, grief, pain, lamentations are suffering; union with unpleasant objects is suffering; separation from the beloved objects is suffering; unsatisfied desires are suffering. O man! Is there any real pleasure or happiness in this world? Why do you cling to these mundane objects? Why do you stroll about here and there like a street-dog in search of happiness in this earth-plane? Search within. Look within and introspect and rest in the Supreme Abode of Peace and Immortality now. Never delay a second even. Plod on. March forward. Realise now and be free.

Pain is the lot of deluded beings. Even the little pleasure that is experienced here is obtained after a lot of worry and troubles and is productive of much suffering. It is born in pain and ends in tears. Gratification of sensual pleasures only augments the craving.

Lust invariably leads to extreme suffering on the impediment of senses in old age.

Nobody has been benefited in this world by this Maya. People invariably weep in the end. Ask any grown-up householder whether he has got an iota of happiness in this world.

The worldly man never comes to the senses although he gets severe knocks, kicks and blows from different corners. The strolling street-dog never stops visiting the houses even though pelted with stones every time.

The whole world is a ball of fire though there are the so-called charming sceneries of Mayaic illusion. The whole world is a huge furnace wherein all living creatures are being roasted.

Lord Buddha says: On the whole, life is a sorrow. Patanjali Maharshi in his Yoga Sutras says: Sarvam Duhkham Vivekinah, All indeed is pain to a person of discrimination. Just as a fish in its desire to eat flesh does not see the hook that lies beneath, so also man in his passionate desire to get sensual pleasure does not see the noose of death.

Pleasure is not in the objects; it is in the imagination or inclination of the mind. Mango is not sweet but imagination makes it sweet. Woman is not beautiful, but imagination renders her so. An ugly woman appears very beautiful to her husband because his imagination is beautiful. There is a grain of pleasure in objects, but the pain that is mixed with it is of the size of a big mountain.

Sensual pleasure is tantalising. There is enchantment so long as man does not possess the desired object. The moment he is in possession of the object, the charm vanishes. He finds that he is in an entanglement. The rich but childless man thinks he will be more happy by getting a son; he worries himself day and night to get a son, goes on pilgrim age to Ramesvaram and Kasi and performs various religious ceremonies. But when he gets a child, he feels miserable. The child suffers from epileptic fits, and his money is given away to doctors. Even then there is no cure. This is Mayaic jugglery. The whole world is fraught with temptation.

The cause of pain is love of pleasure. The cause of death is love of sensual life. Death is a horrible thing to him who is intensely attached to sensual life. Words like cremation, murder, death, corpse, burial, make the sensualist shudder at heart; for he is extremely attached to the body and the objects of the senses. How to part with the sensual objects? is his great cause of misery. Pity!

Pleasure is Purely Illusive

Wealth and power promise to give you physical comforts, but they never give. They delude you and entangle you in the meshes of Samsara. They make you slaves. They shut out for you the doors of the illimitable domain of everlasting peace and the eternal bliss of the Atman. They have no value at all for the dispassionate aspirants. They kick them ruthlessly as mere bits of straw or broken glass-pieces. But they appear to be highly valuable in the eyes of the worldly-minded. They are their be-all and end-all. They spend their whole lives in the pursuit of these fleeting, worthless shadows.

This world is a play of colours and sounds. This sense-universe is a play of nerves. It is a false show kept up by the jugglery of Maya, mind and senses. You enjoy the sensual pleasures for a period of twenty years when the senses are young and strong. What is this short evanescent period of twenty years in eternity? What is this despicable, jarring, monotonous, sensual life when compared with the eternal and peaceful life in the immortal Self within?

You are always helpless. Why do you boast of your ability, capacity, independence and freedom? Why are you proud and egoistic?

One anna of pleasure is mixed with fifteen annas of pain. Pleasure that is mixed with pain and fears no pleasure at all. If you begin to analyse this one anna of pleasure you will find that it is no pleasure at all. It is mere play or delusion of the mind. Milk gives pleasure to some and pain to others. Milk brings on retching in fever. The third cup of milk induces vomiting. What is this? This is play of Maya. This is Indrajala of Avidya Sakti. The Indriyas and the mind are deceiving you at every moment. Beware! Wake up! Open your eyes. Develop Viveka. If you suffer from cancer of the stomach, can you enjoy Rasagulla and other sweets, even though you are a multi-millionaire? The doctor will put you on a diet of pepper water only. If your wife dies, you are drowned in sorrow. You cannot expect happiness from finite, perishable objects that are conditioned in time, space and causation. Nitya, Nirupadhika, Niratisaya, Ananda, eternal, independent, infinite Bliss can only be had in the Atman that is hidden in your heart. Search, understand and realise the Atman within.

To wear spectacles at the age of ten, to wear ring, watch, to buy a car by borrowing money, to wear fashionable dinner-uniform and Ellwood hat. health boots, to have a French crop or bobbed hair, to smoke Three Castles or Navy-Cut cigarettes or Manila cigars, to constrict the neck with stiff collars, to walk along the beach with their wives in clasped hands, to have newspaper in their pocket, to have a trimmed or Kaiser-moustache at the middle of the upper lip, to take meat and drink brandy, to play bridge, to gamble, to dance in ball-rooms, to borrow money, to go to talkies, and in short, to lead a life of dissipation, this is modern civilisation! Fashion and style have made you beggar of beggars.

The body appears only in the present. A thing. that has neither past nor future must be considered as non-existent in the present also. If you think over this matter more deeply with Suddha-Buddhi or pure intellect, you will find Atyanta-Abhava or complete non-existence of the world.

Nothing on this earth belongs to me! This body even is not mine. This is true wisdom. He is my son. She is my daughter. She is my wife. That bungalow is mine. I am rich. I am a Kshatriya. I am a Brahmin. I am lean. I am fat. This is foolishness of a superior order. This physical body is the rightful property of fishes, jackals and vultures. How can you call this as yours?

This Disgraceful Modern Age
In this scientific era, the age of the so-called modern civilization, greed, passion, selfishness are increasing day by day, nay, hour by hour. One nation wants to devour another nation. Man has lost his manliness. The son drags his father to the courts for the division of property. The wife divorces her husband and marries another, if he happens to be more rich, more beautiful and younger. The younger brother poisons his elder brother to take possession of the estate. You see cruelty, dishonesty, injustice and atrocity everywhere. No one keeps his promise. The father has no faith in the son. The wife has no faith in the husband and vice versa.

There is no end for craving (Trishna) in the life of a worldly man. That is the reason why a worldly man is ever restless despite his wealth and comforts. There is always dissatisfaction with his lot. He is ever discontented. Before one craving is satisfied another craving is ready to occupy his mind, and this craving agitates the mind and makes a constant demand for gratification. He forgets his real divine nature and plunges himself in the ocean of Samsara (worldliness).

Give a good scrubbing to a pig with Pears soap and a nice bath. Place it on a soft mattress and give it nice dishes to eat. It will not eat. It will immediately run away to eat filth. Even so, if you place the worldly-minded persons in the company of saints, Yogins and Sannyasins, in solitary places with char ming sceneries, they can never live in peace. They will feel as if they are fish taken out of water. They will feel like the pig that is placed on the mattress.

Sages compare a worldly-minded man to a street-dog, or a pig that eats filth, or a worm that revels in rubbish. The comparison is very very apt, indeed!

O worldly-minded persons! Wake up from the deep of dark ignorance! Open your eyes now. Stand up and acquire knowledge of the Self. Approach the Brahmanishtha Guru. Attain Absolute Independence or Kaivalya. Merge yourself in the State of Satchidananda.

A worldly man kills himself by clinging to things unreal. That man who does not struggle to attain Self-realisation, although he possesses knowledge of the scriptures, human body, youth, energy and other conveniences, commits suicide. His lot is very miser able. What greater fool is there than this man who neglects the goal of life? That man who does not care to make enquiry of 'who am I?' 'what is the goal?' 'how to attain the goal?' is really a great fool, although he may be endowed with high secular knowledge.

Imagine for a moment that your skin and flesh are inverted and exposed. Then someone will have to stand always with a long hill-stick to drive off crows and jackals. Why do you have Moha (infatuated love) for this dirty body? Why do you apply perfumes? Are you not a big fool? Get Jnana. You are the Atman, ever Pure and Effulgent.

The body is the first Mayaic knot or tie. Wife is the second knot round the neck. Son is the third knot round the waist. Daughter is the fourth knot round the knee. Grandson is the fifth knot round the ankle. He who has cut asunder these knots or ties and who has no Moha is really a strong and powerful man (Dhira) and not one who can allow a motor car to pass on his chest or who can keep a big stone on his chest, or who has first-class magisterial powers or who has double-barrelled gun, or who is a member of the Parliament.

All hopes of happiness in this world terminate in pain, despair and sorrow. Pleasure is mixed with pain. Beauty is mixed with ugliness. Kindness is mixed with anger and harsh words. There is no real prop in this world to lean upon. Sensual indulgence brings disease, exhaustion, weakness, and loss of vigour. The sensual objects destroy the whole man, and he has no help from any quarter of this earth. Fair sex infatuates. Money and power fill the mind with hollowness and vanity! There is often war between nations. There is no peace anywhere. Trust not this illusory world.

The musk-deer does not know that the fragrance of musk is emanating from its own navel. It wanders about here and there to find out the source of this smell. Even so, the deluded, ignorant Jiva is not aware that the fountain of bliss is within himself in the Atman. He is running after external, perishable objects to get happiness.

The rich man who is deluded by his wealth cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That is the reason why Lord Jesus said to a young ruler: Go, sell what you have and give to the poor if you would follow me. Hoarding money is a great sin. The whole wealth of this world belongs to the Lord. Greed for wealth opens the doors of dark hell.

Every desire that is conquered, every thought that is quelled, every Indriya that is subdued, every weakness that is removed will add new strength, develop will-power and will take you one step nearer to the Goal.

Even Indra, the Lord of the Devas, who is rolling in abundant wealth, cannot enjoy that bliss which comes to a sage who has the self-centred mind free from desires, who is resting in his own Svarupa, who has equal vision for all.

Go wherever you may, to Gulmarg or Pahalgaon in Kashmir, to Darjeeling or Simla, to Vienna or the Alps. It is all the same. You will not find any real rest. The charming scenery may soothe the retina for a second. Raga, Dvesha, jealousy. passion and greed are everywhere. You will find the same earth, the same sky, the same air and the same water. And you carry with you the same mind. Imagination and change of places have deceived not a few. Remember! The Lord is within you. He is seated in the heart of all beings. Whatever you see, hear, touch or feel is God. Therefore, hate not anybody, cheat not any body, harm not anybody. Love all and be one with all. Man! Be contented. Live wisely. Meditate on the Inner Self, the Atman. Here you will find ever-lasting Peace and Bliss!

Wordly Man ! Wake Up !

O man! Even a broken needle will not follow you when you die. Your actions only good or bad will follow you. Why, then, do you waste your time and energy in hoarding up wealth? Give up this constant selfish struggle of life in this world.

Your face is beautiful, but your heart is as hard as flint. You have not cultivated mercy. You are greedy, cunning, passionate, cruel and jealous. Make it soft as butter by doing constant selfless service, by giving charity to the poor and the forlorn, and. by practice of regular meditation, effected by renunciation of all desires for the objects of the world.

Friends! Is there not a higher mission in life than eating, sleeping, drinking and talking? Is there not any higher form of eternal bliss than these and similar transitory and illusory pleasures? Is there not a more dignified life than this sensual life here? How uncertain is life! How insecure is our existence on this earth-plane with various kinds of fear? How painful is this mundane existence! Should you not attempt diligently now to reach a place the immortal abode your original sweet home of pristine glory and divine splendour, where there is eternal sun shine, absolute security, perfect peace and where there is neither disease nor fear?

O followers of the philosophy of the flesh! Give up this clinging to the body. Give up clinging to wife and children. Try to know the Inner, Immortal Lord, who dwells in, who is the Inner Ruler! who knows everything, but whom you do not know because of ignorance, by whom the senses and the in tellect are illumined. Do not mistake the transient body for the Immortal, changeless, self-luminous Atman.

What is this sense-universe? If the nerve of taste, the glasso-pharyngeal, gets paralysed, you cannot enjoy the different kinds of palatable dishes. If your retina or optic nerve is paralysed, you cannot enjoy the diverse beautiful forms. If the auditory nerve is paralysed, you cannot hear melodious music. If the olfactory nerve is paralysed, you cannot en joy the various kinds of sweet fragrances. If your sensory nerve of the hands is paralysed, you cannot enjoy soft things. If the nerve erigens is paralysed, you cannot enjoy conjugal bliss. Do you not clearly see now that this world is a mere play of nerves? Do you not understand that this universe of opposites is illusory? You will have to depend upon these nerves for your happiness in this fleeting world of names and forms. If these nerves go out of order, you become miserable even though you possess enormous wealth and palatial buildings. Can you call as real, lasting happiness these little, illusory, sensual pleasures which depend upon the play of nerves? It is mere itching of nerves only, which tickles those deluded souls who have lost their power of discrimination and understanding.

An ignorant worldly man says: I have to do my duties. I have to educate my four sons and three daughters. I have to please my boss. I have got heavy duties in the office. I have to remit money to my widowed sister. I have a large family. I have six brothers and five sisters. Where is the time for me to do Sandhya Vandana and Japa and study religious books? There is no time for breathing even. I have no leisure. Even on holidays I have to work. Even on Sundays I have to worry myself with work. I bring office-papers to my house and work at night till the small hours of the morning. I do not want Yoga. This office-work and the maintenance of my family is itself a great duty or Yoga.

Do you call this duty? It is mere slavery. It is the work of a coolie. It is mere bondage. The man is in fear at every moment. Even in dreams he meets his office-mates and the boss and posts figures in the ledger. This is not a right sense of duty. He takes tea, eats food, and sits at the table for writing, sleeps and procreates. His whole life passes away like this. This is not duty. This is gross delusion. This is foolishness. This is selfishness. This is work for gain and satisfaction of lower appetites. Anything done under compulsion and expectation of re wards is not duty. You must not take as duty works done from attachment, greed or passion.

In the presence of light you cannot have darkness. In the presence of sensual pleasures, Atmic Bliss cannot exist. Worldlings want sensual pleasures and Atmic Bliss at the same time, in one and the same cup. This is an absolute impossibility. They cannot give up worldly, sensual pleasures. They cannot have real Vairagya in their heart of hearts. They will talk a lot. Worldly men are happy because they get a few ginger biscuits, some money and woman. What more is wanted for them, poor creatures? More beggars are brought forth in the world through lust. All worldly pleasures appear as nectar in the beginning but become virulent poison in the end. When one gets entangled in married life, he can hardly break the different ties of Moha. A bachelor full of passion imagines that he is unhappy and miserable because he is unmarried. Give up clinging to this illusory life. Be fearless. Control the Indriyas (senses) and the mind. You will develop Vairagya. You will be perfectly established in Brahmacharya.

You have travelled in many countries, fed your dear relatives, and amassed immense wealth. Yet, of what avail are these, O friend? You have not realised the Blissful Brahman.

Desire for name and fame, infatuated love for the body, desire for vast erudition, are stumbling blocks in the attainment of the Self-knowledge. He who wants to free himself from Samsara should annihilate the desire for these mundane things.

Who is wife? Who is son? Who are you? Wherefrom did you come? How wonderful is this universe? How are you related to one another? Think deeply on all these points.

Who are you? Who am I? Wherefrom have we come? Who is mother? Who is father? Think deeply in these. Leave off this world, which is a dream, and seek the One, Eternal, Undivided Essence of Brahman.

There are on the whole 84 lakhs of creatures as germs, insects, reptiles, birds, quadrupeds, bipeds and human beings. Human birth is attained only after passing through all the lower births. Even men of vast erudition waste their time without making enquiry into the nature of the Self, in spite of their having obtained this hard-to-be-attained human birth in a good family on account of virtuous deeds.

Friends! Is there any limit to the number of fathers, mothers, wives, sons, daughters, uncles and aunts you have had in the countless incarnations in the past? And yet the clinging to these false relationships has not gone. Discrimination has not yet dawned. What a great pity it is!

The attraction for external objects ceases; but there yet remains the internal craving or sense han kering or thirsting, which is called Trishna. That is why the Gita says: The objects of the senses (but not the relish for them) turn away from an abstemious dweller in the body, and even the relish turneth away from him after the Supreme is seen (Ch. II-59).

What lessons have you learnt from the Bihar and Quetta earthquakes? Are you attempting to reach the Imperishable Seat wherein all desires and Trishnas will be utterly annihilated? Are you endeavouring to attain the highest end of life?

In the Bihar earthquake a rich banker had to beg for nine rupees just to protect himself and his family from death by starvation. A Pundit had earned slowly twenty-five thousand rupees by selling his books. But he had to spend that money in a short time in the treatment of his chronic chest complaint. He tried all sorts of medicines, but all in vain. He had to leave the house and lead the life of a hermit. How uncertain and foolish is life in this world!

You have spent eight hours in sleep, and the rest of the day in idle gossiping, telling lies, deceiving others, in selfish activities, in amassing wealth. How can you expect spiritual good, how can you expect immortality and peace, if you do not spend even half an hour in the service of the Lord, in singing His names and in divine contemplation?

Will your son or daughter or friend or relative help you, when you are about to die? Will they accompany you to share your miseries? Have you got one sincere, unselfish friend in all this world? All are selfish! There is no pure love. But that Lord, your real Friend of friends, Father of fathers, who dwells in your heart, will never forsake you, though you may forget Him. Adore Him in silence, that God of gods, that Divinity of divinities, the Highest of the high. May He bless you with His Love, Wisdom, Power and Peace!

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