Who Is It That Suffers?


I have mentioned in previous posts that I have chosen not to comment on the current situation regarding the pandemic, which has affected so many people around the world. I’ve always felt that there are enough armchair experts out there, without me chipping in as well.

But, with the amount of suffering that is going on, I feel inspired to write this post, not necessarily just about the current world-wide situation, but about suffering in general.

Like many, I have learned that going through difficult experiences has a habit of forcing us to look within ourselves for strength and inspiration, as opposed to looking to the external world; which quite often is the source of our troubles. It is also true to say that as a species, we evolve via our experiences, and being as our true nature is consciousness, this is only natural as consciousness is in a constant state of flux and evolution. I personally, feel very positive about what is happening in the world; I feel that the end product will be something quite amazing. Let us not forget that we have this wonderful thing called relativity and that the world moves in cycles. After every fall there is a rise and every painful experience ultimately leads to a pleasurable one, and vice versa.

Once again, I’m going to refer to the teachings of Ramana Maharshi to demonstrate the whole point of this article, as I feel his simple philosophy holds the key to whether we as humans live a life of peace or pain. The Maharshi would always address questions from devotees and visitors to his ashram in accordance with their ability to understand, so from this respect, it would be impossible to say that the following is the exact answer that would have been given to everyone who asked the question. But quite often, if anyone asked him why they suffer so much or why there is so much suffering in the world, he would say, “who is it that suffers?”

He would tell them to ask the question, “who am I?” The only answer being, “the One eternal Self.” He would remind them of this; their true nature, and say something like, “if you are and always have been the Self, which exists as it is with no knowledge of suffering, who then is it that suffers?” The answer to that question is that it is only the ego that suffers because of our habit of falsely identifying with the body as the reality.

No one is saying that it’s an easy ride; far from it. But having the understanding that we are ultimately just “the witness” to what is happening and not a participant helps a great deal. Finally, I refer you to my previous blog post “Be Still.” I find that simply being still is a very effective way of getting through each day. There is most definitely something happening, but we need to look within ourselves to find out what that is. I find that it is only during moments of stillness that the Self reveals its secrets.

Be Still


One thing that has become apparent to me in this crazy life, is that when it comes to the “realisation of the Self”, time and space are irrelevant. What I mean is, that it matters not where you are in the world or what time of day it is, the Self is always just as it is. You can only awaken exactly where you are and nowhere else. Of course, it is always nice to go on pilgrimages and to visit holy sites or places of beauty in order to induce feelings of peace and oneness with the “all that is.” But ultimately, it makes no difference whatsoever.

I remember my own personal experience when I received the inner call to visit the ashram of Sri Sathya Sai Baba back in 2009. There I was, at “The Abode of the Highest Peace”, yet at every opportunity I would go to the internet cafe to check emails or see how my football team was doing. Ramana Maharshi used to say, that there is no point in going to the Himalayas to sit in a cave, when all you do when you are there is think of home. He would also say, that we sit at home thinking that it will induce realisation of the Self if we go to the Himalayas, but once we get there we spend all our time wondering what’s going on back home. It doesn’t matter where we are in the world, if we are not ready and the mind is over-active then it will prevent us from from experiencing our true state, which is pure Being.

My own personal environment is a constant reminder to me that I have some way to go before realising that I am already realised (by that, I mean having the constant direct experience that I am already that which I am seeking). The little town where I live gives me constant reminders of my own petty judgements and prejudices, which will have to be dealt with before I get any lofty spiritual ambitions.

I have come to the conclusion that the only really effective form of spiritual practise, is to “be still.” Even recognised and traditional spiritual practises, such as yoga and meditation, only induce a temporary awakened state. The practitioner must at some stage return to the world. Simply being still, seems to be the best way to connect with the inner silence; the infinite cave of wisdom, which is effectively “the Self.” Giving up all ideas of doing and achieving also allows the higher power to work through us.

The root of all our pain and suffering is that most of us are not human beings (or humans being), we are humans doing!