Thursday, September 15, 2011
Romancing pain -- but do not trifle with it: saints and heroes don't
I have often romanced pain in life and writings. But pain is not to be trifled with. Nor is the search for meaning in pain a resort to superficial sentimentalism -- which is the domain of the mentally juvenile, or is plain masochism or a mere school girlish indulgence in the idea of suffering. Suffering is a serious business and must never be talked about in haste or flippantly. Only those who have known suffering in its darkest and terrifying form can afford to talk about a search for meaning in it. Never fall in love with pain or suffering or else you will be a victim of a permanent and sickly love for grievance. Take pain and suffering seriously. Sentimentalism and profound suffering are two completely different things. Never confuse one with the other. Suffering can be uplifting -- sentimentalism almost never. In fact, a sentimentalization of pain, suffering or sadness can result in a chronic morbidity in character. Heroic courage to bear, face and confront suffering with equanimity does not belong to the same class as mere indulgence in self-pity or even pain. Do not love pain or suffering but value them if they come. And most importantly, dig deepest into your emotional, moral and spiritual reserves to face suffering with dignity. Then -- and then alone -- can suffering lend character to your life. And character alone lends meaning to life.And peace -- abiding peace - can flow only from an ability to take on suffering with mind ready for success or failure alike - a mind ready to face life with cool courage and accept its share of suffering with equanimity. Fighting odds and acceptance of the inevitable are both heroic acts. And only the heroic know the value of peace and happiness because only they understand the relevance of suffering. And a character shaped by such an approach will be defined two basic traits: poise and humility. Failure to accept the relevance of suffering breeds anger and arrogance; understanding and acceptance of it breed peace and humility. Two types of people symbolize the underlying meaning of all this: saints and heroes.