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What Hinduism Can Offer To Help With Your Pain: Part II

May 28th, 2007 · No Comments

This is Part II in a series about how Hinduism views pain and suffering.

Concepts in Hinduism that relate to pain and suffering:

Suffering, both mental and physical, is thought to be part of the unfolding of karma (karma = the principle that governs the unfolding of events and is based for a person on the integrity with which he has lived previous lives). Suffering is seen as the consequence of past inappropriate action (mental, verbal, or physical) that occurred in either one’s current life or in a past life. It isn’t seen as punishment but as a natural consequence of the moral laws of the universe in response to past negative behavior.

Hindu traditions promote coping with suffering by accepting it as a just consequence and understanding that suffering isn’t random. If a Hindu were to ask, Why me?, or feel her circumstances weren’t fair, a response would be that her current situation is the exactly correct situation for her to be in, given her soul’s previous action. Experiencing current suffering also satisfies the debt incurred for past negative behavior.

Suffering is seen as a part of living until finally reaching moksha (moksha = the complete release from the cycle of rebirths). Until reaching this state, suffering is always present on life’s path. Hindu tradition holds that as we are in human form on earth, we’re bound by the laws of our world and will experience physical pain. Pain is truly felt in our current physical bodies; it isn’t illusory in the sense of not really being felt.

But while the body may be in pain, the Self or soul isn’t affected or harmed. Arjuna, a seeker of wisdom in the Hindu holy book The Bhagavad-Gita, is told:

The self embodied in the body
of every being is indestructible.


Weapons do not cut it,
fire does not burn it,
waters do not wet it,
wind does not wither it.

It cannot be cut or burned;
it cannot be wet or withered;
it is enduring, all-pervasive,
fixed, immovable, and timeless.

As the Self isn’t affected, there need be no concern over temporary suffering. Those of us in pain may gain comfort by viewing our pain as only a temporary condition and one that doesn’t affect our inner Selves.

Pain and suffering aren’t seen as solely bad, but as experiences that need to be viewed from multiple perspectives. Hindu traditions hold that all things are manifestations of God/The Ultimate, so nothing is only good or bad; God/The Ultimate encompasses everything. Everything, including pain and suffering, is given by God/The Ultimate. To view suffering as bad is to see only one side of it. Suffering can be positive if it leads to progress on a spiritual path. Some even embrace suffering as a way to progress on his spiritual path, to be tested and learn from a difficult experience.

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