Suffering, Solace and Yoga

Starving from famine

 And on the suffering of the sweetest, most innocent, most vulnerable of humans - Children, often caused by other humans

While there is peace and happiness for some in the world some of the time, there is also deep suffering for others elsewhere from time to time. Most everyone encounters pain and suffering some time or the other in life, one also suffers when a loved one is in distress and when one becomes sensitive one is also touched by the suffering of others in far away places. There are humans suffering because of wars, homelessness, hunger, over eating and obesity, disease, corrupt or brutal governments and much else at this very moment and some are little children less than the age of five, an age of innocence, an age when a child deserves to experience only love and joy of play, in no way responsible for the suffering that has been thrust upon them by the world they happen to be born in.

Not picked up to hug and kiss but just an Infant illegal alien refugee detained in USA

Perhaps the only solace for an adult in pain is to realize that everything of this world is transient and that no suffering lasts forever, even life does not. The time will pass and when one believes in reincarnation one has the solace of new lives in new circumstances. However that is not sufficient for one in the middle of it. One needs a plan of action for here and now.

A few of millions bombed out of their homes in Syria ( Some images from Gaza of children with limbs ripped apart  were too shocking to include here)

This is where ancient saints come to one’s aid. The Father of Yoga, Patanjali says that one may escape all distress by doing three things. The first is Tap a Sanskrit word that says that one must continue to do the right thing and whatever is ones duty with equanimity even if it seems difficult. It is the duty of every human to do whatever is possible for his or her well being and also for those one loves and for children and other vulnerable persons in whatever reasonable way one can, even by praying for them if nothing else seems feasible to do.

Homeless in Manhattan

The second thing recommended for humans is Swadhyaya another Sanskrit word that means to study oneself and life continuously and try to remove one’s weaknesses. If the very self is weak then it can neither help itself nor anyone else.

The third and most important thing saints recommend is trust and love of the Almighty. His power is infinite and there is nothing impossible for Him if He so ordains. It is within His powers to vanquish the mightiest of difficulties if they deserve to be vanquished with the utmost of ease, for He is the power behind the universe. Just as we let those we love and believe love us decide for us at times, even in crucial personal matters,

The love of the Almighty who is infinitely loving to all of his creation and the surrender to His will, permits Him to decide for us and guide us, even through our inner selves and thought processes, based on His infinite wisdom, for our welfare. On their own, because of their free will, limited wisdom, ego,  useless desires and fears that cloud knowledge, humans err frequently and become a cause of their own suffering.

Alas, when times are comfortable for humans, they tend to forget Him, even deny Him, although all remember Him in times of need. It is because of this the ancient Saint Kabir exhorted that it is wise not to forget the Lord even when times are good because if one did then bad times are unlikely to come.

Get inspiration from the lady struck by famine in the top picture who is all alert as she waits for a train at a platform to escape to a new hope even as she nurses her child in the hope that he too shall make it through the journey because her breasts have gone dry because she and all of her family as seen in the picture has had hardly anything to eat for months, due to a prolonged drought in her village and no help from afar or those who govern from their comfortable and well provided mansions and palaces. Even the cows and goats have passed away because there is no grass and even water to drink has become scarce. Her love for the Lord has now guided her and strengthened her to seek a place of solace and the determination to follow that guidance for herself and all of her much dejected and desperate family who have all but given up the will and strength to live.None however have any more tears to shed now. They dried up long ago even as the rivers and wells in their village dried up. The long trek to this distant railway station had been especially difficult in this state, and as one member or the other fell down by exhaustion she kissed and goaded them awake, while burying a two year old daughter by the wayside because she refused to breathe any longer despite repeated kisses. There was not a wild flower anywhere to adorn the grave, nor a tear left to shed in dried out eye sockets so the woman took of her blouse, her last one, to adorn and cover the grave. A grandmother of the children  too frail to make the journey had stayed behind, and it was partly from fear of leaving her alone the family had not left sooner. Now they wait for the train that may carry them to a land where the grass is green and where there is water to drink, and the son, now too weak even to stand up, says he shall return soon with a bag of wheat, a pouch of roasted chick peas and another of salt for grandma. May the Almighty speed relief.

While an adult may follow the three part practice described in this note named as Kriya Yoga by Patanjali, what do children know about it? It becomes incumbent on parents as well as every other adult to do whatever they can to make the lives of children better. It is only then that our own Almighty Father or Mother would perhaps more readily come to our aid for sure, because we are His children. Perhaps all the suffering children are angels descended from heaven to teach humans what it means to be human even through their suffering, to bring to life hearts stuck in their own greed and needs, and to separate those who cannot be so salvaged.

Epilogue:  The story of the frail family included here is from long ago but things like that are happening in different countries right now. It seems a ninety year old man who had been feeding the hungry homeless in Florida has been jailed for such an abominable act by those who regulate such things. The morning newspaper today informed that the body of a dead two year old boy had been found in a garbage bin in Ajmer, India and that an inquiry indicated he had died from starvation.  No ninety year old or younger has been arrested for the act. (Times of India, Page 4, Jan 30, 2015, Jaipur Edition)
But perhaps there is a happy ending to the woman of our story if one went by the new photo. Her children are now in school and with the guidance of the Almighty, she has instructed her children to refuse the free midday meal at their urban government run school, designed to alleviate hunger and malnutrition amongst the poor, because some of the children fall sick from it from time to time and some even died of rat poison that got mixed up in it. She stays by the rail line in wait for her husband to return after a visit to grandma and because it provides  chairs for study. There is plenty of water now to even wash her hair and a new blouse and if her husband finds work again on return she shall even get shoes for the kids. Hers can wait. She knows nothing about Patanjali and has not read his three part yoga. She lives it. May the love of the Lord live forever long in her heart and add prosperity to her life with every passing day,
But, when that time comes may she not forget how it was once, and how it may still be in other parts of the world, and catch the diseases of obesity instead, for in our wonderful world just as many suffer from or obesity as do from hunger and perchance if someone were to point that out to her, not regard it as rude and disgusting but rather remember the days of her torment for as Saint Kabir said once, long ago,
In times of suffering remember all, but in times of joy none; were one to remember in joy, why would suffering come?

While help is often available in modern India in towns and cities for a time of difficulty, it has not reached numerous villages yet and far-flung villages are unable to access it in time. When the young wife of a man in Eastern india died because of it, he resolved to make his village closer to town for others. Read the amazing true story of this man who dug through a mountain for more than twenty years to make it possible and became a saint in the process.


Vinod Khurana said…
Dear Ashok ji, Very touching article that teaches wisdom in a straightforward and simple manner.

Depend on no one
and do your own thing
Whatever weakness you have
soon get over it
Trust and love Him
and He shall do everything

Pity not but help
those who are in need
Flaunt not but lift
with your strength the weak
Trust and love even those who don't
and expect back nothing

What all you have
it's a gift
not to keep but give
you still gain and lose nothing
He gives you much more
because he now trusts you all the more!

With warm regards/ Vinod
Ashok said…
Thanks Vinod for expressing in such beautiful words, the essence of this article. Yes I agree it is touching. I was moved while writing it.

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