By Suma Varughese
When you stop pining for the pleasant and resisting the unpleasant, conflict ceases and gratitude gushes, says Suma Varughese
The root of all inner conflict is pushing away something and wanting to pull in something else. We push away ill health and pine for health. Push away sadness and pine for happiness. Push away thoughts and yearn for silence. Push away judgements and yearn for unconditional acceptance. Push away anger and crave cheerfulness. We do this outside ourselves too. Push away traffic jams and fantasise about empty roads. Push away long lines outside banks during demonetisation and long for the opposite. Push and pull, push and pull. That is the crux of the human condition. Craving and aversion, as the Buddha put it. We want the pleasant and we abhor the unpleasant. And so we gyrate in the cycle of life for lifetime upon lifetime.
So what is the solution? How about loving the unpleasant and letting go of our need for the pleasant? I have had this insight time and again during my winding journey along the spiral staircase of evolution. A few days ago it turned up again, during my prayer time. Of late I had cultivated the habit of spending about half an hour every morning praying to God. It was a free flowing prayer, where visualisation, expressing gratitude and affirmations all went together. I ardently prayed for perfect health, and for the capacity to be free of all pain and discomfort. I also prayed for enlightenment. I envisaged myself steeped in equanimity, perfectly immune to the “slings and arrows of fate’. I prayed for the health and well-being of my family. By the time I was done, I would be vibrating with energy and virtality.
Then a few days back, the question popped into my head. What if I stopped running after these things and simply accepted them? Suddenly there was nothing to pray for. Instead of praying for health, I thanked God instead for my inefficient respiratory system, my poor digestive system and the aches and pains that beseiged me. Instead of praying for enlightenment, I thanked God for the spectrum of emotions that floated through me, and for the thoughts that wrapped my mind in a fog. I thanked God for the illnesses of my various family members. I came out of the prayer in five minutes feeling rather blank. Could this really be the way to go? Was I really not to envisage and visualise what I wanted? Was I done with the much-vaunted Law of Attraction?
Over time, this new approach is paying dividends. Now when irritation or judgement cross my consciousness, I simply thank God, for that alone is. When my stomach refuses to digest food and feels heavy and bloated, I thank God, for that alone is. I am also expressing gratitude for my loved ones’ ailments for that alone is.
How about loving the unpleasant and letting go of our need for the pleasant?
This was the hardest part, for it seemed presumptuous on my part to simply thank God for their difficulties. But then I thought of the doctor who had created the Ho’opono’pono prayer. A psychiatrist in charge of a notorious mental asylum, all he did was to look at the case papers of the various patients while saying, “I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you and I thank you.” In time the patients recovered and the mental asylum was actually closed.
If he could do that, perhaps my accepting their illnesses may not be in vain for my family too. It is still early hours, but conflict is waning and even more important I am awash in gratitude for both the good and bad. I am reminded of Sadhu Vaswani, the founder of the Sadhu Vaswani Mission, who said that ultimately, there is only one thing to say, “Shukar”. “Thank you”!
About the author : Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, and Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. She also holds writer’s workshops. Write to her at email@example.com