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Chapter 2: Seeing Life As It Is

But there are already enough uninvited miseries in the world - no need to invite any more. Already much misery is available - one should start experimenting with it. Miseries come uninvited anyway. If, during the uninvited misery, one can maintain the awareness that “I am separate from my suffering” then the suffering becomes a sadhana, a spiritual discipline.

One will have to continue this sadhana even with happiness that has come on its own. In suffering, it is possible we may succeed in deceiving ourselves because one would like to believe that “I am not pain.” But when it comes to happiness, a man wants to identify himself with it because he already believes that “I am happy.” Hence the sadhana is even more difficult with happiness.

Nothing, in fact, is more painful than feeling that we are separate from our happiness. Actually, a man wants to drown himself completely in happiness and forget that he is separate from it. Happiness drowns us; misery disconnects us and sets us apart from the self. Somehow, we come to believe that our identification with suffering is only because we have no other choice, but we welcome happiness with our whole being.

Be aware in the pain which comes your way; be aware in the happiness which comes your way - and occasionally, just as an experiment, be aware in invited pain also because in it things are a little different. We can never fully identify ourselves with anything we invite upon ourselves. The very knowledge that it is an invited thing creates the distance. The guest who comes to your home does not belong there - he is a guest. Similarly, when we invite suffering as our guest, it is already something separate from us.

While walking barefoot a thorn gets into your foot. This is an accident and its pain will be overwhelming. This unfortunate accident is different from when you purposely take a thorn and press it against your foot - knowing every moment that you are piercing the foot with the thorn and watching the pain. I am not asking you to go ahead and torture yourself; as it is, there is enough suffering already - what I mean is: first be alert in going through both suffering and happiness; then later, one day, invite some misery and see how far away from it you can set your consciousness.

Remember, the experiment of inviting misery is of great significance, because everyone wants to invite happiness but no one wants to invite misery. And the interesting thing is that the misery we don’t want comes on its own, and the happiness we seek never comes. Even when it comes by chance, it remains outside our door. The happiness we beckon to never comes, while the happiness we never ask for walks right in. When a person gathers enough strength to invite misery, it means he is so happy that he can invite suffering now. He is so blissful that now there is no difficulty for him to invite suffering. Now misery can be asked to come and stay.

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