Chapter 23: The Great Love Affair with the Universe
Prem Amido, I understand your situation and the problem, but you are facing your situation with great courage. I am happy with you. You are suffering because of a crippled body, but you are not the body. Nor are you crippled, your consciousness is as free as anybody else’s. Of course your path is going to be a little difficult. Your body is going to create continuous suffering for you.
But perhaps, if you are alert enough - and I can see you are - you can change suffering itself into a blessing in disguise. It is one of the most significant things to understand. Why have all religions insisted that their saints and sages should be very austere, ascetic, almost torturing themselves? They were not crippled like you, but they made themselves crippled in many ways.
There was one Christian saint in Alexandria, twelve hundred years ago, on an old pillar some thirty feet high. He remained sitting on that pillar; it was part of a ruin of a beautiful temple. He never moved from that pillar until he was dead; he never came down. You can understand his suffering. It was self-created. He had to sleep on that pillar, sitting; very dangerous, any moment he could fall. People used to bring food and he used to pull the food up with a rope. And he was defecating from the top of the pillar, pissing from the top of the pillar. He had no shelter in sun, in rain, in cold, but he became very famous.
And this is not a singular case. Millions of saints of different religions have created a situation of suffering for themselves, either by fasting.One Hindu mystic even took out his eyes. And eyes are the most sensitive part of your body. Eighty percent of your connection with existence is through the eyes. The other four senses between them have only twenty percent. To pull out your eyes with your own hands is to destroy eighty percent of your life. But he was very much respected.
What happened to all these people? I have seen saints in India, standing for twelve years, fifteen years, not for a single moment sitting down or sleeping, just standing. They have a certain device on which they keep their hands, and by and by the upper part of the body shrinks and their legs become like elephants’. Now even if they want to bend them they cannot.
I have seen saints who have been living only on tea, no other food. Now, tea is not food, it is not a nourishment. All these people were under the illusion that when you are living comfortably, without any pain, without any suffering, you may forget yourself, you may lose your awareness. They are using suffering as a means to awareness.
I am not in support of it, but, Prem Amido, as far as you are concerned, you are not creating the suffering. The suffering is there. You can use it to remain alert. And you are rightly observing that the pain keeps you feeling that you are still alive. I have seen you laughing. You cannot dance, but I have seen every effort in your whole being that you want to dance. The body is preventing it; the body is not in the right position. You cannot do anything about it, but you can use this natural suffering for creating a more clear awareness, more consciousness. And then suddenly you will feel even grateful to the suffering.