On Hinduism | Is it genuinely possible to be liberated from suffering?

In Hindi culture:

The Sanskrit word Dukkha is an important Buddhist concept, commonly translated as “suffering,” “pain” or the “unsatisfactoriness” of life — an attitude from which sentient beings need to attain psychological & spiritual liberation from our daily experiences of suffering.

‘Expansion’ by Paige Bradley | yoga sculpture New York light installation.

In Hinduism, we often let our attitudes about dukkha create mental afflictions that arise from all-or-nothing thinking that create emotional instability in the mind and body.

The faith attributes the root of this suffering (traits referred to as ‘kleshas’) to the following “afflictions” they believe distort our minds and perceptions effecting how we think, act and feel:

  • Avidya (ignorance) — like sometimes, we just aren’t aware that we participate in behaviors that cause other people suffering
  • Asmita (I-am-ness) — self-absorbtion can reduce our capacity to assume accountability for any behaviors which may make us feel entitled to ignore other people’s suffering
  • Raga (attachment) — yeah, sometimes we get attached to outcomes that are just projections without any real evidence that we’re going to get the outcome we wanted
  • Dvesha (repulsion) — moral indignation, fear, and an entitled sense of aversion to folks who display the traits and behaviors we judge can blind us to their redeeming qualities. Bigotry and bias fall into this category.
  • Pratigha (anger) — often tied to violence
  • Māna (pride) — a sense of entitlement can reduce our empathy for others and attitudes that may cause other people suffering

According to Hindusism, which is the oldest of humanity’s wisdom traditions, suffering is an inescapable and integral part of life. The purpose of the religious practice is to create ways to alleviate suffering by reappraising how our expectations, underlying attachments, and attitudes toward sickness, death, the objects we desire, and views of separation contribute to our collective experiences of suffering.

Hinduism was the first documented wisdom tradition to suggest that the act of acknowledging those attitudes and afflictions was the first step toward remedying them.

It was the first contemplative tradition to promote the practice of developing self-awareness, self-understanding and self-knowledge to uncover the roots of suffering to better understand the role we contribute in creating suffering in our own lives and the lives of others.

It was the first wisdom tradition to recommend the cleansing practice of ‘Pratyahara,’ a sensory deprivation methodology, as a tool for self care that could be used to bring the afflicted mind back to a state of stability and balance.

Image of person taking deep breath 350x350-300x300
Image Credit: Mind of Liberation

In many ways, there are many overlapping practices across wisdom and faith traditions that align with modern day findings in neuroscience.