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Chapter 14: Take the Challenge

In Sanskrit, they have a beautiful word for suffering. They call it vedant, and vedant has two meanings: one, suffering; the other, knowledge. Vedant comes from the same root as veda. Veda means the source of knowledge. Those who coined this word vedant came to know a fact, that suffering is knowledge. Hence they used the same word for both.

If you suffer, immediately you become aware. The stomach comes into existence only with a stomachache. Before, it may have been there but it was not in your consciousness. That’s why medical science, particularly Ayurveda, defines health as bodilessness: if you don’t know the body you are healthy; if you know the body something is wrong, because knowing exists only when something goes wrong. If you are a driver, a slight noise in the engine and you become aware; otherwise everything was humming, everything was monotonous, everything was okay. A small noise somewhere in the engine, in the other parts of the car, and you become aware that something has gone wrong. Only when something goes wrong do you become aware.

And if you become really aware, you don’t become involved in the wrong; rather, on the contrary, you grow more and more in your awareness. Then a second phenomenon happens: in your awareness you come to know that the disease is there, the discomfort is there, the suffering is there, but that is not in you, that is just around you, on the circumference. In the center there is awareness, on the circumference there is suffering, as if suffering belongs to somebody else: you are not identified. Then a headache is there, but it is not painful to you; it is painful to the body and you are simply aware. The body becomes the object and you become the subject; there is a gap.

In awareness all bridges are broken, the gap is immediately present. You can see: the body suffers, but the identification is broken. Suffering brings in awareness, awareness breaks the identification; and that is the key to life.

Blessed is the man who has suffered; he has found life.

Jesus on the cross is just a symbol of the final suffering, the absolute suffering, the peak of suffering. When Jesus was on the cross, at the last moment he wavered a little. The suffering was too much. It was no ordinary suffering, not ordinary bodily pain, it was anguish: not only physical, but deep psychological anguish. And the anguish was that suddenly he started feeling, “Am I abandoned by God? Why should this happen to me? I have not done anything wrong. Why should I be crucified? Why this pain? Why this crucifixion? Why this anguish to me?” And he asked God, “Why?” He questioned.

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