Life,Death and the Meaning of Suffering:Notes From a Learner’s Diary

Every suicide, death, civil or political riot, every massacre, war disaster, epidemic must remind us that the root cause of all suffering is within, we must strive for transformation.

A harmonious dialogue between the inner and the outer is the core essence of a meaningful existence.
A harmonious dialogue between the inner and the outer is the core essence of a meaningful existence.

This small piece of writing is based on the idea of self-Reflection and it reflects upon the necessity of mental well-being of a person in the present time. Very recently, a famous film actor Shushant Singh Rajput has committed suicide. How and where we divorced from companionship with life? Why our mental well-being come out from the track of faith in life? Even at the time of epidemic and war we need to reflect upon these questions. 

Here in the small town of Bihar, my days begin with sweet chattering of birds. When I come out of my room in the morning the first thing which catches my eyes is the lush greenery all around.  I rejoice fragrances of various beautiful flowers, watching them blooming and changing their colors… all around me it is the celebration of beauty and music of nature. 

What does it mean seeing greenery, or listening to the bird’s chirping? There can be many ways of seeing and hearing. Here, I will talk about only three. The first way is like we see things but then we don’t actually see it at all, we ignore. Similarly, we listen many voices all around but then we don’t receive them all. Receiving is important in context of life. What, when, how we receive things, depends upon our state of mind and heart. The second way of seeing or listening reflects our intellectual mind. We appreciate a flower or landscape or any sound of the nature from our intellectual mind. Intellectual mind perceive things according to our existing perceptions. And the third way is that we communicate with everything as a living process .This way reveals a deep silent spontaneous process of being together with each and everything, basically which brings a sense of unity and experience the harmony and love within. It is a very lively process. Because this is the state of living when consciousness of different things starts communicating each other. 

When it comes to living life not just passing the life the way we receive it, the way we communicate with each and everything becomes important. In our education system we are not taught the art and science of self-reflection. This self constitutes of physical, mental, emotional, vital, and psychic being. Our education system and all educational spaces including family and society identify only upon the two beings mainly, the physical and mental. Our mental being is usually trained to set the focus on the targets of our materialistic life and ignore all other things. Our mind has been conditioned according to the need of material well-being and for the survival. The first two ways of seeing are taught for survival and competition, which take us nowhere. These two ways of seeing and receiving things has trained our mind in such a way that we forget the importance of mental well-being in our life. Our education system never gives such space to learn how to select and reject things for our mental well-being. At some point of life we stop learning. We learn according to our ambition, rest of the things around us, we don’t reflect upon. 

What happens when we stop the processes of self-reflection? Is there any connection between our mental condition and what we are experiencing today?

 We are witnessing suicides; Suicide of farmers, laborers, students, and even celebrities. They are committing suicide because of hunger, depression, sickness, competition, fear of failure and success, fear of survival, etc.; but no reason cannot be placed to justify this kind of unnatural conclusion of human life. These reasons cannot be the actual reasons of suicide. Here in this article I am simply going to reflect on life in terms of learning. 

Why does one commit suicide? (Please do not take these words in the context of farmers and laborers suicides because I do not find myself capable enough to reflect upon the distress of farmers and laborers.) Every single act of suicide reminds us of something. This ‘something’ needs to be understood in terms of the life of each one of us. The purpose of this article is not to judge any individual who decides to conclude his or her life by committing suicide. 

Our society doesn’t recognize mental well-being as one of the crucial necessity of our life. Here, we are going to reflect how we are missing this essential aspect of our life .

Self-Centeredness and the Self-Reflection

Somewhere in our life we start cumulating things in our mind with our mind’s own limited understanding. This habit of accumulating things in mind and heart becomes poisonous. It is our ego who cumulates such beliefs and perceptions in our mind. Ego teaches us to become self-centered. We think of everything in terms of I, me and mine. Ironically, even when we think of others or think about the world, we do it with the attitude of self-centeredness. And we live our life as if we are here on this earth just for passing the time. Usually, we do almost everything very casually – we enter into a relationship as time pass, we marry just for enjoyment, we take up job and spend time doing it casually, we plan family like ritual, we do social work as time pass, we shout slogans, we govern the government without any vision of unity and equality, we vote and even we kill each other so casually… I might sound very ridiculous but mostly all what we do is originated from our ego, usually we ignore that self-centeredness fails to create loving, harmonious space in our life which gives us sense of unity with each and everything in our life. . We are running from the Self, because we are self-centered.  

Self-reflection is missing from our lives. Neither education nor social structures teaches us to reflect upon the Self, to face our ego, to see it and to understand the cause of it. We have not learned to take our ego simply as some food which has been left in our body without digestion. And all what we need to do is to just throw it out or wait for digestion. Foolishly, what we do is that on the top of indigestion we over eat. 

The process of self-reflection has no place in our education and society. Question is same why does someone commits suicide? The answer is because one stops learning. Learning is the core of self-reflection. When we are able to see our weakness, our ego, our limitations then we also become capable of transforming them into the light, peace, joy and love. Suppose I am carrying ego and I recognize it, others also recognize it that she is carrying ego, what is bad in it if I have to accept it, even publically. Simply, it is ego, I have to come out of it, and I will. That’s not as difficult as it seems. It is difficult because neither in the family, nor in any other social structure, in our school, colleges and university we get such harmonious and loving environment to overcome our weaknesses. Here, I do not want to go in details of education policies and educational and family structures. Even, in the last few years I have stopped discussing and debating on it because neither civilians nor politicians work for Truth-Consciousness. What is this Truth-Consciousness? In a very simple word it is the higher or highest consciousness which brings our consciousness to the state of Unity- Unity within the self, unity in family, unity in society, unity in nation, unity in world, unity with nature, unity with whole universe and cosmos. But we are following the path of Division. All of us. 

Let me quote one of the interviews of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. (I am not follower of any actor nor I am a well-informed film lover. It was just the news from a telecasting and I saw the clippings of one of his interviews. In a particular portion of that interview he was talking about his dreams and philosophy.) He said that for every 3 to 6 months he makes list of 50 to 60 dreams to do.  He quoted great philosopher and educationist Jiddu Krishnamurti by saying, ‘The moment you pin point your limits instantly you become limitless’. I really do not know what he understood from Jiddu Krishnamurti and from other philosophers, but what I understand from his explanation brings some attention to very simple reflections. 

Dream of a Learner

What is dream? Dream is simply not a mental construction which we can write in our list. It cannot be like the list of things which we bring every month from the grocery store.  

After going and passing through very tough examination of life one day we feel all of a sudden a seed of the dream is on our palm. Dream is a sacred piece of art which life gives us as a gift. Dream cannot be born from our high ambitions and ego. It emerges from the truth of our existence, from the simplicity of self-reflection not from our self-centeredness. And here, when we fail to fulfil the dreams, everything starts becoming dark, we are overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness, all positive thing starts looking gloomy. We fail to understand our situation in terms of our inner weaknesses, and we count our limits in terms of what we have not achieved materially. The limit is our lack of learning from life. To be limitless is not simply making list of mental dreams and achievements. 

A learner cannot commit suicide. A teacher can commit suicide if he stops learning. Here, teacher means one who thinks that she or he knows lot and can teach the world.

Every suicide, every death, every civil or political or religious riot, every massacre, every war, every disasters, every epidemic reminds me every minute that dirt is inside me, the cause of all suffering and pain of this world is within me and I have to clean myself. And since childhood I have dreamt of a place where everybody can get harmonious, loving environment for self-reflection so that they can cultivate the knowledge within. 

Mental well-being cannot be achieved through any particular method. Every individual is unique and with full of immense possibilities. So, every person has to find his/her own way of cultivating the knowledge within. Everyone has to explore the dialogue with the Self, with the nature and open to learn even from the tiny-small thing to any situation of life. When I visited Aurovalley I found exactly the same place I often see in my imaginations, in my Divaswapan. 

Aurovalley: The Place for Self-Reflection and Learning

Aurovalley is a place of silence and concentration to find one’s consciousness. It is situated in Raiwala in Dehradun district. Aurovalley welcomes everyone who wants to get free from all narrowness and limits in the service of Truth-Consciousness. This Ashram is based on the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

  No one can teach Self-reflection to anyone. It is only when we come into the contact with such harmonious, quiet and naturally silent atmosphere the self-reflection process begins to open, grow, and develop within us. The founder of Aurovalley, Swami Brahmadev, believes in the free progress learning. The atmosphere along with Swami Brahmdev’s very quiet presence encourages everyone to reflect on the all sorts of narrowness to let flourish the immense possibilities of the self. Swami Brahmadev does not recognize himself as teacher or guru. He never teaches anyone anything very directly, by instructing or commanding or suggesting. Although his silent presence never allow anyone to live with narrowness. 

We do not need any teacher or any method to grow our consciousness, to grow our ‘Self’. We just required a harmonious, silent place in our life, in our society, to reflect on the truth and requirement of unity. 

Our education, our society, our world needs more spaces like Aurovalley. An educator like Swami Brahmdev whose silent presence as a learner enriches and guides us in the path of self-reflection. Certainly that does not mean for that we need huge building structures, number of rooms or acres of land, hills of Himalaya, huge mango garden etc. what we all need is the way of seeing and receiving, an aspiration, respect and love for life and each other ; then automatically we would be able to create place like Aurovalley around us, a place and space within-  where consciousness becomes as vast as sky, heart fill with rooms for each other with a deep sense of unity, a presence for each other like garden of paradise…then we would become catalyst for each other. Yes, we need more Aurovalleys to spread the work of self-reflection all over the world so that we walk towards truth-consciousness, unity, love and peace; not suicide, death, sickness, racial and religious hatred, war etc. We are learner, and we are also dreamer, we are the warrior of future and present who have to first conquer victory on the past and weakness and limitations of the Self and then we have to conquer the all weakness of our society, nation and the world. Without cleaning the self a warrior cannot be trained. How can we march towards life from death without conquering all sorts of dirt within and around us? 

 Let us create Aurovalley within and around us. Let us take a step towards a new education which will teach us to be a learner forever, to take care of our own mental well-being so that we ourselves don’t become a burden for us and motivate us to live a blissful creative life no matter what.  

 Shephali is an independent researcher and writer working in the domains of literature, philosophy and education.

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