Wisdom of the Buddha:
When Buddha was teaching, it is said that people would come to him with a lot of philosophical questions: “What is birth? What is death? What is Enlightenment?” Most of the time, he would not answer these types of questions. He knew these questions were coming from that part of the mind that wanted to skip the effort of meditation.
People were asking questions, waiting for an answer that would put them at ease. They would continue to ask until they found a perfect reason not to meditate. They would ask a lot of questions and then eventually say, “Yes! Now I know why I should not meditate. Now I know why I should not worry about Self-Realization.”
Every time they would come with these questions, Buddha would guide them back to one simple Truth. He would ask them, “Do you acknowledge that there is suffering in your life? If you acknowledge that there is suffering in your life, then you need to go beyond that suffering. What I am offering is a path to go beyond suffering. The farther you travel on this path, the less suffering you will experience.”
Spiritual quest is a gradual process – the deeper you go into meditation, the less pain you will experience. There is emotional, psychological, physical, and existential pain within you that you cannot deny.
Pain and suffering are a constant part of your life. Just because you appear to be alright on the outside, doesn’t mean that you are peaceful on the inside. Most of the time, you are screaming in pain. You cannot deny the discomfort of the body, the longing of the spirit, or the struggle of being lonely in the world. As long as these pains exist, you cannot stop striving for Self-Realization.
Self-Realization is not an attainment. It is a process of going beyond your accumulated conditioning to find your true inner Self. Self-Realization is not defined by what you gain; rather, it is defined by what you lose.
When people asked Buddha, “You meditated for so many years, what did you attain at the end of it all?” His answer sums up the beauty of meditation. He said, “I attained nothing in this process, but let me tell you what I lost. I lost anger, jealousy, fear, frustration, and worry. Isn’t that worth striving for?”