It is said that all suffering is self inflicted. While this blanket statement has a lot of room for discussion around varying levels of emotional wounds or trauma, the idea is that our own ruminating thoughts are the driving force that perpetuates suffering, instead of the hands of another person or experience.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi discusses this concept in relation to individual behavior in his book, The Science of Being and the Art of Living. Maharishi was a trained physicist who became a meditation teacher under the direction of his Guru Dev, and later introduced the Transcendental Meditation technique. In his book, Maharishi describes the impact that harboring negative thoughts about someone else’s behavior has on our own suffering. If someone treats us improperly, our tendency is to respond with an equal or stronger reaction that will likely be received negatively.
Maharishi explains this response doesn’t allow that person the opportunity to improve their relations with us, which will also add to our suffering. He adds that even if this person was acting with ill intention toward us, we can still choose to include love in our following interactions with that person that will benefit the both of us long term, “Even if he does harbor ill-feelings toward us, we will benefit him and ourselves if we still behave toward him with love and tolerance.” Maharishi explains how the “doubting or unkind mind” perpetuates suffering in the individual when “even if there have been reasons for the doubts in the past, [the doubting or unkind mind] fails to enjoy the joyfulness and sincerity of the other. Thus, it is not the present behavior of the man that is causing the other to be doubtful; rather it is the state of his own mind”, Maharishi, 2011, The Art of Behavior…Behavior and Surroundings, para. 6-10.
Through the practice of Transcendental Meditation, the practitioner experiences bliss consciousness, where our natural state of peace, harmony, and clarity directly infuses with our everyday activities. This technique is taught by a certified teacher, to ensure the integrity of the teaching as well as the understanding of the student. Through instruction, the student is drawn to a quiet space at the source of thought, accessing a deeper space of awareness where our natural state unfolds spontaneously. Through this system for accessing one’s integrated self, “we vibrate a good influence of life and peace, harmony and joyfulness, around us”, Maharishi, 2011, The Art of Behavior…Behavior and Surroundings, para. 11.
This helpful reminder helps clarify the momentum that is found in negative thinking (all thinking really). When we fuel negative thinking with more “air time”, they become more powerful and influence not only how we feel or act toward this person in the future, but inevitably in the participation of our own suffering.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Science of Being and Art of Living. MUM Press. Kindle Edition.
This post was previously published on greetyourself.net and is republished herewith permission from the author .
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