“Know that sorrow, being the means of

Convincing man of the need of inner life, is a spiritual teacher.”

(The Rosary of Gems – Tibetan text)


“The swiftest horse that bears us to perfection

Is suffering.”

(Meister Eckhart)


“Whoso bears joy and sorrow with even mind

Has spirituality.’

(Mongolian text)


The duality that rules the manifest universe we are all well acquainted with.  Contrast – pleasure with pain, birth with death, wellness with illness is an inescapable accompaniment to our human existence.  Do we appreciate that equally, it is part of our mental and emotional life as well? We cannot realistically, once we understand something of this reality system, expect perfection.  What would perfection look like anyway?  For most of us – a perfect life would be one of unending happiness and contentment. Perfect wellness, material abundance, love, joy, you name it.  On one level we all know, or think we do, what would make us happy.  In short, the main thing that would make us happy would be never having to experience suffering of any description, ever.

Yet, the wisdom teachings tell us, and have done for thousands of years, that this is never a possibility. Suffering is inherent in the human condition.  Pain must always accompany pleasure.

(Until that is, such time as it doesn’t.  For most of us though, such time is not yet.  Sagehood is somewhere in the future.)  On a physical level we understand easily enough that suffering protects embodied life.

If we felt no physical pain imagine how reckless we would be with our bodies. They wouldn’t last for long.  Then, we must ask, how is suffering protecting our emotional, moral life?  Plato said it was a misfortune to a man who has deserved punishment to escape from it.


We might refer to the ancient wisdom teachings to help understand the meaning of this.  Let’s look specifically at Karma, the universal doctrine of cause and effect, balance in all things; the bible’s as you sow, so shall you reap. (Karma is not readily obviously logical without the knowledge of repeated embodiments – or reincarnation. Without going into a discussion on the subject at this point, suffice it to say here, it is no more mysterious to be born twice as it is to be born once.)  Anyway….moving on.

Punishment, the evasion of which according to Plato is a misfortune, is nature’s way of educating us. And it occurs on a number of levels, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual –  and over vast spans of time.  Karma has a long memory, make no mistake.  The due punishment, often wearing the guise of a random, fated event coming from out of the blue, has a purpose and intent and that is to develop within the individual the ability to know right from wrong.   At a profoundly deep level, deeper than cultural and epochal variants, there is a set of fundamental truths regarding the morality of being human.


“Nobody likes to impose a discipline upon himself and that is why everybody has to submit to a discipline imposed by karma. Hence pain and suffering come to us principally through the operations of karma.” (P.B.)


Karma will not wait for future embodiments if it has an opportunity to balance the ledger within the same lifetime.  We all know this. We talk about ‘instant karma’. It is a fact.  And makes more sense instinctively – for the same personality to experience the consequences of its actions, rather than a future one.  For all that, the latter is true.  The personality vehicles we don in earlier existences may well have been responsible for our suffering in the present.  The seed atom, residing in the heart center carries within it the essence of the knowledge and experiences of the life just lived. It is carried through the ether and astral realms to each and every new embodiment. Thus we evolve.


We are creating karma in every moment.  It is not difficult to understand the metaphysics of this. In every waking moment we are involved in the activities of doing and thinking.  Actions, as well as thoughts, are vibratory energy. Once sent out, like oceanic ripples, they reverberate through the ethers, finding a resonant receptacle somewhere in space and time. We are literally shaping our own future with and from our current awareness. As Paul Brunton says: ‘For every moment we are shaping the history of the next moment, every month we are fashioning the form of the month which shall follow it. No day stands isolated and alone. Karma is a continuous process’


But! Least your heart begin to sink at the apparent hopelessness of the situation wherein, goodness knows what some personality you once were got up to – and where is that going to lead you – there is mitigation. It is called free will.  The teachings of the higher philosophy tell us that whilst we must accept that fact that there is a price to be paid for all our actions, karma does not arise randomly out of thin air but is the natural consequence of energy set in motion, it is not  true that all events are ‘unalterably fixed.’    We always have the power to improve our situation and much of this revolves around our thoughts.


Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”  (Shakespeare)


Yes, we are compelled to accept and move within the circumstances we have created ourselves in the past, but it is also true that we have the freedom to modify them.  Fate belongs to the personality, the surface side of our multi-dimensional selves.  But we know we are much more than that.  In our hearts we carry our immortal, infinite selves.  This is where our innate knowing comes from, our voice of intuition, the voice of conscience.  Every action therefore, is a mixture of fate and what we choose to think (and act) – freewill in other words.


Which brings me back to suffering. An overwhelmingly large portion of our pain comes from our feelings, thoughts and emotions – can we accept that?  Yes physical pain obviously is a reality too.  But the everyday sufferings of anxiety, fear, worry, guilt, regret, anger, these contribute more to our overall unhappiness, our suffering. Is it possible to think our way out of this form of suffering? To thereby alter the trajectory of our karma and more importantly, bring us peace in the present?


The wisdom teachings tell us this is entirely possible.  They didn’t say it was easy.  The great sages and spiritual masters have known this truth – that to bear all hardships, to face the inevitability of illness, ageing and death, with equanimity and serenity, is true wisdom and the sign of a higher consciousness. That so many have for countless centuries, made a practice finding acceptance in all situations, finding peace within despite turmoil without, teaches us that this too, is our destiny.


“Whoso bears joy and sorrow with even mind

Has spirituality.’

(Mongolian text)


Translate to the here and now and mere fumbling lesser mortals.  Where do we start? How do we do it? How do we mitigate our past karma and create as little negative future karma as possible – and most importantly stop suffering now!?  Simply – the teachings tell us – by going inward.  The truth is, (and I quote here Paul Brunton):…. ‘The dark karma of sin and suffering which most of us carry is too heavy to be carried alone. For alas! We have to face the fact of what we are, not in serene essence but in bitter actuality: we are weak ignorant moody despondent creatures. We are unable to remove intellectual doubts, overcome moral temptations or solve practical difficulties. We cannot grow angel’s wings overnight…”  As he goes on to say, we need the support of something bigger than ourselves.  We need help – until such time as we can stand on our own strong feet.

Our karmic load is, we are told, often too much for us to bear alone. Even the smartest among us are not equipped to understand the deeper metaphysical reasons for our suffering. And so, we are told there is help at hand.  This is where our inward journey comes in.  Brunton calls it Grace.  Through grace, which is the descent of the Higher Self into the lower personality self, miracles can occur. A power is awakened through grace that brings insights and creates change in our mental and emotional spheres.  In other words, when we make the acquaintance of our divine self through stilling the mind in meditation, we are helped and healed.  The insights that occur have the effect of breaking through the habitual patterns of thought that keep us treading the karmic wheel, drawing to ourselves situations and feelings that perpetuate our suffering.


The ancient wisdom teachings console us: we do not have to attach meaning to our emotions and the thoughts our minds tell us.  When we are able to do this, to drop the stories, they naturally pass away. They lose their charge.  Dropping our investment in trying to make meaning and understand every passing thought or mood frees us up to be truly in the present. And in the present lies our power. You see it is when we are present and aware and the mind is calm, when we stop the mental agitations and let go, grace is able to descend.  Letting the story go dissolves the vibratory impact of the negative thoughts and feelings we have attached to it and as it frees our inner space it changes our subtle vibration.  This is the open invitation the divine is waiting for.  This is the power of meditation.


When we refuse to get hooked in to our thoughts and emotions – realizing the truth that these are all just passing phenomenon – we can train ourselves to let go before our thoughts and feelings have a chance to constellate into energetic patterns that inevitably radiate out into the cosmos and continue on into the future with a life of their own – drawing to themselves and to us, their creators, people and situations of like vibration.


At its heart the purpose of meditation is to find God realization. Which is, to make acquaintance with the divine that is within each and every one of us.  The journey inward, to this place of Source, necessitates the relinquishing of the little mind. The egoic-mind.  This is the mind that is the part of us responsible for every one of our negative thoughts.  Such thoughts, and their accompanying emotions do not come from our higher mind, or our divine Higher Self. We must learn to see them for what they are, and see the suffering they create for what it is:  educative!  They are educative in that they prompt us, in our despair, to turn away from the world and look for something higher. And it is there, in our inner space, that we find relief from our suffering.  “The swiftest horse that bears us to perfection is suffering.”


There is no imperative to grasp, to cling, to identify with the thoughts and feelings of the egoic mind. We do not need to do ‘emotional work’ in an attempt to release them. Simply experiencing the feeling of them is enough. Registering the discomfort. And then giving them over to a higher power. Feelings and emotions, thoughts, they all come and they go.  They are transient.  Once we experience them they have done what they came to do, we can release them.


When we sit, still the busy mind, withdraw the awareness from the external world and come into the spacious world of our inner being, our breath and our heartbeat – we realize that beneath the crazy self-absorbed suffering egoic mind is the one who is truly who we are. This one sits in silent witness. It is the voice of our knowing, our intuitive voice. It observes our suffering and our struggle.

It has infinite love for our small self, and our struggle.  With its limitless compassion, it is the source of our redemption. And it is the one and only way to free our selves.


Blessings of love and light