The Role of Suffering in Spiritual Life
Is suffering needed or not? Is it good or bad, useful or harmful? We are moving towards happiness, and suffering is the "engine" on this path. It sounds a bit strange, so, let us try to understand the nuances of this question.
Maturity stages of a human
Pashu is the animalistic state, when one looks like a human, but emotionally and psychologically is closer to an animal. If you take time to observe, you will notice, there are emotions, feelings, experiences and thoughts in the animals as well. But what distinguishes a human from an animal is his/her thirst for Infinity. However, not all people have had this thirst for infinity awakened. The people who have this desire still sleeping are called Pashu. This is the initial phase of maturity. Such people follow the path of pashvácára, they are on the first stage of personal maturity.
Then the person grows into the state of Vira. Vira is a person who has woken up and realized that he/she has not only physical, emotional needs, but also intuitive spiritual need of endless love and higher wisdom.

As soon as the person realizes this need, he/she would no longer want to return to pashvácára.
Does eating, sleeping and procreation really make much sense? Although the person is still not ready to go up to the third stage, divyácára, the stage of a divine being who enjoys divine life.

“Vira” means “hero”. Why a hero? An animal does not have any inner psychic struggle, it does not act as a hero, it follows its instincts. While a human faces inner conflict at the vira stage. In what way should I act - an easy or a right one? Thus, this struggle to do what is right, qualifies a person as a hero (vira). The one, who achieves stability in the “hero” way of thinking, eventually becomes a devata, or a divine being.
On each of these three stages suffering plays different roles. On the third stage, the significance of suffering disappears, while on the first stage, suffering plays a very important role.
If a person with poorly developed mentality is living in comfort, he would never strive for anything, would never develop. He sincerely does not understand those people who are on the viracára stage and yearn for more. On the stage of pashvácára, a person develops exclusively under the pressure of circumstances. That is, when there is such pressure, he moves, but if the pressure is gone, he stops developing.

Very few people of the pashu category come to the path of spiritual development drawn by their inner thirst. Those, who do, are vira. They are heroes from the childhood. They are attracted to spirituality and naturally come to the spiritual path. The majority of people come to the spiritual path precisely under the pressure of circumstances: health deteriorated - the doctor advised to do yoga, the relationships deteriorated - the psychologist advised to do yoga, I can't concentrate - the professor advised to do yoga, and so on.
Why do we need discomfort?
When a problem or pain appears, and a person is seeking to get rid of this pain, it is called the pressure of circumstances. If there is a carrot dangling in front of such person - if you do this, you will get such and such result - this is also the pressure of circumstances. Therefore, on the first stage of spiritual development suffering is necessary for the one to progress; and it comes only through life circumstances.

You already know that there is the power of ignorance - tamoguńa. This is the power of staticity, which dominates where there is no movement: one has frozen, fallen asleep and is staying in this comfortable swampy numbness. There is the power of dynamism - rajoguńa, the power of change. You move somewhere, do something, and with this movement new horizons open up. For example, a plant, when it is in the form of a seed, it is affected by tamoguńa. When it is watered, it grows under the influence of the force of dynamism, rajoguńa. Then, the plant is finally blooming. The moment it is blooming and its beauty is manifested, the plant is dominated by sattvaguńa, the power of goodness. The same is with a person. One is moving when dynamism is manifested in his/her life. Then the highest beauty sprouts and flourishes in him/her, a spiritual need grows; and he/she strives for higher wisdom, for higher love, for universal happiness.
There are concepts of comfort and discomfort. Comfort is when my desires are satisfied, discomfort is when I want something and do not get it, or I do not want something and get it. The state of discomfort is the main driving force on the pashvácára stage. No discomfort - no moving forward.

Imagine a vira person, the one who is on the second stage of personal growth. He/she is moving forward on his/her own, but from time to time the pace slows down, and the life manages to catch up and push him/her forward. Then this vira person again flies forward happily, but after a while slows down again. On viracára stage, a person takes steps by himself, runs, getting additional stimuli from the life.

On the third stage, divyachara, a person is developing so quickly that the life just cannot keep up with his/her pace to give a push. Thus, the pressure of circumstances is no longer required.
Dark and light sides
A little bit should be added about viracára. There is such a concept like kleśa (Sanskrit - "calamity, adversity"; in English clash - "collision") among yoga practitioners.

What does kleśa mean? There are three factors of evolution. The first factor of development is a physical conflict, a struggle for survival - one has to develop in order to live. The second factor, more subtle, is the conflict on the inner, mental level. Ideas collide in the mind: “right” versus “pleasant”, “immediate short-term happiness” versus “long-term happiness after some time”, “habitual” versus “right and necessary”. On this stage, a person is very well aware of what actions leave favorable marks in the mind, which unfavorable. There is a dialogue in Star Wars where Master Yoda instructs Luke Skywalker:
Luke Skywalker: Is the dark side stronger?
Master Yoda: No, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
You need to choose which side of power you are standing on - the dark one or the light one. The process of choosing what action to take is called clash, conflict.

The best way to create a psychic clash, a conflict in the mind, is to repeat the mantra.
When you repeat, you recite the mantra that contains high idea, the very vibration of the mantra, its ideation conflicts with your low state. The vibration of the mantra and your state get attuned, and as a result, the mantra pulls you out, lifts you up.

Usually the word "conflict" is understood negatively, but in this context its meaning is very positive. Here positivity and negativity conflict. If I choose positivity, the negativity weakens and steps back. But if I don’t do anything about my negativity, it’s going to stay where it is. Therefore, when suffering occurs on your spiritual path, always remember that it is very important for your spiritual growth.
Read also:
  • If you are staying together with a spiritually oriented person, you are in a Satsauṋga. " Satsauṋga " means a "good company". This is a very powerful practice, which gives a strong impulse to development at the beginning of the spiritual path.
  • We often blame and reproach ourselves when we fail to do something. This is due to our culture and upbringing. But spiritul way requires different approach: choose the ideal and movie towards it. If you stumble- climb up, get a look at your ideal, and keep moving.
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