Modern Day Suffering

By Desmond Yeoh SC

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In 1398, the Moghul Warlord, Timur-i-Leng, invaded India from the Indus River all the way into Delhi; blazing a trail of destruction, plunder, rape and murder. The only people left alive in his passage were those suitable enough to be gathered as slaves. He was satisfied after reaching Delhi and fortunate for the rest of India, returned home with his plunder and captured slaves. The campaign into India lasted less than a year but the subsequent famine and disease prolonged for years. His descendants again invaded and ruled over Delhi, off and on, from 1526 until 1857 when the last Moghul emperor, Bahadur Shah II was exiled to Burma. During that period ruled by the Moghul emperors, there were frequent periods of civil wars and campaigns to extend the empire.

The suffering of the masses during that period were more physical in nature; hunger, disease, torture, rape and death. They lived in constant fear and the loss of loved ones were the norm. Even in relatively peaceful periods, the peasants were exploited and lived in extreme poverty.

In modern times, our suffering is more mental in nature. We suffer from greed, jealousy, financial worries, hatred and anger. Most of these mental sufferings could be transcended if only we could change our mental attitude towards life. If we could describe our condition to the peasants who lived during the Moghul warlord era, those peasants would probably think that we are heavenly beings, living in heaven!

Our mental suffering is very often self-inflicted. Take for example a mother who is depressed because her son does not visit her often enough; and another mother who does not get to see her son frequently because he lives overseas and therefore she has no expectation of seeing her son often. Both mothers have the same problem but one is suffering and the other is not; merely because of differing expectations.

Because of the nature of our mind, we suffer even during peaceful and pleasant eras. Therefore, spiritual practitioners strive to train their mind in order to let go of negative mental habits which brings about unnecessary suffering. Those who succeed would find themselves living in heaven here on earth. Seeking to accumulate wealth to live in greater comforts cannot protect us from suffering. Only through unswerving and persistent mind-training are we able to bring more happiness into our life.

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