The root cause of our suffering
by Atman Nityananda
The root cause of our suffering is the ignorance of our true Self, which has as a result the development of the egoic mind. The centre of the egoic mind is ´Iness (identification with body, separation from truth and life), lust and desire and pride. These main egoistic qualities are the root cause of all other egoic tendencies and all kind of suffering we experience which takes the form of anger, fear, depression, uneasiness, agony, frustration, anxiety, jealousy, hatred, discontentment etc.
The two major egoic tendencies which are the main causes of our suffering are:
1. The compulsive need to be accepted recognized and approved by others.
2. The desires; the desires for sensory pleasures and the desire to be superior or special (pride).
Both are based on the illusory identification with the physical body (which makes us believe that we are a body-me) due to the ignorance of our true nature -our divine Self or Atman which nature is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss absolute.
The desire to be superior and compulsive need to be approved
The desire to be superior and the compulsive need for acceptance and approval are very much related between each other but they have some differentiations.
The compulsive need to be approved and accepted
Due to ignorance of our true Self and the identification with the body we create a self-image based on the false and illusory characteristics of the body, the mental abilities, our possessions and achievements.
The behaviour of our parents, relatives and teachers contributed greatly to the creation of this false self-image and the need for approval from others. Their words, affirmations, suggestions and actions played a great role in the creation our self-image and self-esteem because the child's mind is empty and open to absorb everything without resistance. Our parents and our teachers showed love and affection to us and accepted us when we behaved in the way they considered acceptable or reasonable according to their concepts and beliefs (their conditioning) about the good and the bad of the life. This behaviour of our parents and relatives had as a result the creation in our subconscious mind mental, emotional and behaviour patterns relative to the conditioning of the minds of our family and our teachers. Today, a factor that greatly influences the creation of the false self-image and mental conditioning is the media.
Thus from childhood we have been programmed to seek acceptance and approval of the others. This need for acceptance happens unconsciously and compulsively and causes in us emotional contraction that takes the form of anxiety, insecurity, anxiety, inferiority, agony, shame, fear etc. In order to overcome these emotional states and feel "well", subconsciously we ask the acceptance or approval of others in many different ways and behaviours.
We need the others to accept and approve us in all aspects that we believe are important to us, that is, the things that are related to our self-image. These may be the physical body (hair, face, power Muscles, eyes, voice, height etc.), or our ideas, preferences, physical and mental abilities, the clothes we wear, our possessions, our origin, the studies and the knowledge, etc.
In order to be accepted we can also do things (especially the adolescents) that are not appropriate for our health, our wellbeing or that are against our ethical sense of good; but we do them only to be approved by others or we think that we are accepted or approved by them. It is very hard (emotionally) for our ego, its self-image to be damaged and be rejected it. Our ego wants the others to have good opinion about us; that´s why ego worries about what the others think about us. That΄s why insecurity is almost always present in the background of the mind and especially in new situations where the ego does not know what the others consider appropriate behaviour or which are their likes about the way of talking, dressing etc.
Due to this programming we are almost always in doubt about our worthiness. As I said earlier, to feel sure that we are ok, sufficient and feel self-worthy we do many things to get recognition, acceptance and approval. If we get them in some way, then our doubts dissolve for a while as well as the feelings of insufficiency and we confirm our worthiness. But the subconscious pattern (the need of acceptance and approval) is still there in the mind, working like a machine which never stops. Again and again (depending on the strength of this pattern, the associations we keep and the personal past experiences) this pattern comes forth generating the same emotions of anxiety, insecurity, anxiety, inferiority, insufficiency etc. asking approval and acceptance again and again. This pattern function in the same way function in our psych the addictions for food, drink, etc., and has its own recurring time of expression. This pattern wants to be fed with the same type of energy and experience.
The pattern of approval and the desire for sex pleasure are the most difficult ones to dissolve and free ourselves from the suffering that create to us. It is necessary to work systematically for many years with these tendencies in order to get rid of them. Of course if we work seriously and systematically they will gradually lose their power and the dominion on us and they will not cause as much suffering as they did when they were fully expressed in us.
The desire to be superior or special (pride)
Our ego in order to satisfy its desire to be superior, important and special as well as to overcome the emotional contraction and feel adequate, sufficient, secure, worthy, very often compares itself with others, judges negatively or criticize the others. And above all compares and judges the things that are related to our self-image and our experiences.
When the ego compares, tries to find things that affirm that has right, that it is better, superior or more special than others. When the ego is convinced that it is superior or better, feels a relief of the contracted emotions and feels special or important. This self-affirmation that we are superior compared to others gives us also (actually gives to our ego) a sense of satisfaction.
Negative criticism also has the same goal. The ego through criticism feels better or superior. Why? Because when we criticize the others automatically we are in a higher position than them –considering them lower because we have the authority to judge them.
The ego feels great satisfaction and pleasure when he thinks he is superior or more special than the others. That´s why the ego tries to demonstrate in any way its sovereignty and that is something very special. Whenever the ego manages to be recognized by others feels great euphoria and satisfaction. So the ego drives us to do things that make us famous and recognized in the wider scale. This is very obvious in football, tennis and sports in general and in the actors, mannequins and politicians.
Our ego suffers when it is not recognized and in order to gain the recognition can lead us do not only 'acceptable' things but also harmful things for ourselves and others.
Of course, this is made by the ego, but due to our identification with the ego we believe that we take these actions voluntary and consciously. But this is the greatest illusion caused by the ego! That is to say, that the ego makes us believe that its thoughts, its emotions, its words and actions are all our own and we believe that we are the ego itself while in reality our true identity is the consciousness.
He who believes that these egoic subconscious patterns does not happen in his psychology, already he is very deceived by his ego and suffers from these patterns without even realizing it.
The pleasures and the pursuit of happiness
Since we ignore our true nature (which is bliss, freedom, peace and love absolute) we seek happiness and fulfilment outside ourselves in the sense objects, relationships, possessions and all worldly situations that we consider pleasant or favourable for our well being.
But the things of the world are finite and conditioned and can only be pleasant, unpleasant or painful; there is not even an iota of happiness in them nor pleasure (except sexual pleasure). They are also subject to birth and death, and one day we will lose everything-even our bodies.
It is very obvious that we cannot experience unconditioned love, freedom, peace and bliss that are unlimited, through things and experiences that are limited, finite and conditioned. What is finite cannot give us something infinite. Only what is infinite can give us the experience of infinity. Only what is bliss can give us the experience of bliss, only what is freedom can liberate us from the illusions created by the ego and vain desires.
We believe that the things of the world can make us happy due to our lack of discernment which is obscured by the ego and the innumerable desires and the veil that puts in our mind the quality of tamas (* tamas guna -Sanskrit word, it is the quality that obscures and covers the Truth, as well of inertia, resistance and darkness). The tamas quality has the ability to obscure our intellect and thus we fail to discern the true nature of our experiences and also recognise and be aware of our True Self.
The greatest illusion created from the egoic mind is the belief that the happiness we experience when a desired object or situation is fulfilled, it is derived from the object or the situation itself. But this is not true, it's just an illusion created by the ego and the tamas guna.
In reality when we get what we want the mind temporarily becomes calm and rest in its centre (consciousness) due to the fact that there is no anymore distance between us and the object and we enjoy the desired object. The mind is fully concentrated and in this condition the mind partially enjoys the happiness and the fullness of consciousness. But, due to tamas guna and the illusion of ego, we think the happiness we experience is due to the object itself and thus we continue to look for happiness in the sensual objects, experiencing pleasant sensations, a little illusory pleasure and sometimes happiness mixed with much suffering.
This suffering is due to the transformation of desire as anger, fear, depression, impatience, greed, disappointment, frustration, uneasiness, irritability etc. When desire is obscured or not fulfilled the energy of desire takes the form of the well known to everybody negative emotions and sensations which we experience as a psychological suffering. Knowing that all negative psychological states which cause suffering are in only modifications of desire we can see that is impossible to avoid suffering if the energy of desire continues in our psych.
The things of the world can contribute to our well being only under certain conditions. Only if we use our mind, energy, body and senses in an appropriate manner in relation to the sensory objects, we can create at some degree harmony and mental and emotional balance. This balance will help us to do meditation and self-inquiry in order to realize our true Self and experience freedom, fullness and unlimited bliss. Only when we are in touch with our divine Self within is possible a higher state of harmony, peace, love and freedom from suffering.
How to live for freedom and joy of Being
To overcome these two main causes of suffering mentioned above, as well as all other causes (anger, fear, depression, hatred, et.) it is essential to develop self-awareness to disindetify from the mind and observe its contents. Through specific practices we must develop the higher capabilities of our buddhi (intellect-intelligence) such as discernment, reflection, detached observation, contemplation, pure reasoning and comprehension, control the senses and the mind.
It is important also to keep our body and mind healthy and save our energy. That´s why it is very important to feed our mind with sattvic impressions (sattva* a Sanskrit word, is the quality of light, clarity and harmony to help us develop the superior capabilities of the mind), in order to increase the sattva guna in the mind and reduce the tamas and rajas gunas. To increase the sattva quality in our mind is essential to have sattvic relationships, associations and connections in all aspects of life. A sattvic life is the foundation of a healthy body and mind and peaceful life, light, love, harmony and happiness.
It is also necessary to eliminate the psychological toxins (negative emotions, wrong beliefs and concepts) and develop virtues such as compassion, contentment, adaptability, concentration, dispassion which enable us to live in higher states of consciousness.
We must learn to observe ourselves in order to discover and eliminate all the egoic patterns that are hidden in the subconscious mind. There are several practices that we can use in order to purify our subconscious mind (Chitta). To succeed in this process the most important thing and the centre of spiritual life is to be moment to moment alert, observing our thoughts, emotions, moods, the vital impulses and at the same time be aware of our Self (self-awareness).
To recognize our true Self (not the egoic self or ego but the Atman or consciousness) is necessary to make the mind pure, dispassionate, sharp and one-pointed and develop the ability to discern between the true and the false, the real and the unreal, the permanent and the impermanent. With a well developed mind, we can do one-pointed discriminating investigation and self-inquiry that will allow us to discover and dissolve all the identification created by the ego and most important to realize our true nature -consciousness and establish our mind in Consciousness.
God bless you achieve freedom, peace and eternal bliss in this very life!
Peace, Love and Light