Self-Knowledge and the Sky of MInd

Hi, Ted.


After reading  a satsang that recently posted on your site, I would like to add something with respect to pain and suffering.

You wrote,  There is an important distinction to be made between pain and suffering. Pain is a physical or emotional sensation so to speak .
Suffering is an existential malaise that results from the erroneous notion that one is inadequate and incomplete and that the acquisition or attainment of objects can produce permanent fulfillmen
t. Under the influence of ignorance the apparent individual person is doomed to suffer from the lack of or absence of any object that he feels he needs to complete him and since no limited object can produce limitless happiness, he inevitably meets with the same deleterious psychological consequence even if he obtains the object of his desire.”

From my work as a practicing therapist for over 30 years, seemingly there is an added component to the distinctions you made.  While essentially you are accurate, the apparent individual identifies greatly to the pain, suffering, physical sensations that seem to be there whether it is existential or not, ignorance of their true nature obtains.

From the view point of the apparent individual under the influence of ignorance with regard to the absence of objects that he “Feels” he needs to complete is under the influence of the notion that one is “Inadequate and or incomplete as the result of acquisition or attainment of objects …….does apparently experience physical, emotional sensation as well as pain in association …with erroneous notions.

While it is true there is an existential malaise, as you say,  “suffering”  . The suffering  for the apparent individual does seemingly experience  significant pain, physical sensations and emotions. If there really is a distinction as you say, it is very subtle.

For the average person who I work with, who is not a student of Vedanta, erroneous notions, beliefs and ignorance is most certainly the  result of  seeming or apparent misunderstanding irrespective.
I would like to open the discussion with you when you have an opportunity




Hi, Richard.

With all due respect, I’m having a difficult time understanding your email. There seem to be missing words, even whole phrases maybe, and one spot where quotation marks indicate the beginning of a quote to which there is no end.  The main gist, from what I gather, is that the distinction between pain and suffering is subtle and for most people almost indistinguishable.  I grant that, but those who are inquiring need to look into the difference between these two conditions.  Suffering is caused from erroneous notions about one’s true nature and is avoidable — provided one is a mature individual who is willing to do the work of applying the teachings of Vedanta to their life — while pain is simply the result of the play of the gunas in conjunction with one’s vasana-driven karma.  No one escapes the ups and downs inherent in the dualistic nature of life in the apparent reality.  The one with self-knowledge, however, doesn’t take on the added bane of suffering due to the belief that not getting what they want or feel they need will somehow diminish them.  The one with self-knowledge knows that he or she is whole and complete no matter what happens or what objects come or do not come into his or her “possession.”  In other words, no object — whether subtle or gross — can in any way enhance, diminish, or otherwise affect them in any fundamental way.  Hence, the one with self-knowledge will, or at least can, experience the whole range of human emotions, but he or she will remain ever unshaken on a deeper level, knowing that his or her true nature is whole, complete, limitless awareness and that all objects — material, emotional, or intellectual — are simply ephemeral phenomena floating through the “sky of mind” (i.e. the subtle body) and are of no more ultimate significance in terms of his or her true nature than the physical clouds do in terms of the existence and clarity of space.  In this way, the one with self-knowledge experiences his or her humanity, but is not swept away by it.

All the best to you, my friend.