Ignorance is a main cause of pain and suffering. Ignorance is darkness of the restless mind. The restless mind is like an ocean and when the wind blows there are many waves. Waves are simply water that have taken shape for a short while, like the subjects in our mind that change from one second to the next. Only when the air is still the waves lose their shape and merge with the water again.
Usually we can’t understand what is happening, where those subjects in our mind are coming from, or what is the cause of pain and suffering because we are so involved with the ever changing subjects in our mind.
Restless mind is only darkness. This darkness creates fear; egotism; selfishness; desire; will; hatred; stress; anger; attachment, and so on. And we don’t know how to understand what pain and suffering is. Generally if you tell someone that they are in pain and suffering they will deny it. But so long as mind is restless, we will definitely be controlled and feel troubled and feel tension and pain in our body also. To give an example – if we have a headache, our mind always diverts in that pain. Our mind gets stuck in the pain and we can hardly think of anything else. We are very talkative inside at that time because we are thinking about the pain. If we take medicine and the pain disappears, then we totally forget that there was ever a pain. Likewise, when there is no pain in your mind, your mind will be quiet and peaceful.
Sometimes people think that they are very peaceful because they are not talking; they are silent. But peace is an internal matter. Someone may not be talking but they will be speaking inside. Their mental chatter will not stop. So if we want this peace, we have to first purify our mind and stop it from going outward. But as I said before, if we want to catch our mind, we need help from our breath, because we cannot catch our mind easily.
It’s like if you have a fan without electricity, it cannot run. The fan is a piece of equipment, a machine, but without electricity it cannot move. So if we control our respiration, the mind will become peaceful. Likewise, we can catch our respiration by applying yogic pranayama exercises. We can regulate the speed of the fan also and make it fast or slow. Through pranayama, which is exercise for the breath, we can make our breath very long and constant.
If you tell a child to sit quietly for an hour, he will not be able to do so. But if you let the child go and run and play for one hour, he will be able to sit very quietly when he returns. So in the same way, if we order our mind to be quiet and peaceful, it will not obey. But if we separate our mind from the five senses through pranayama, through meditation and concentration, and bring it to the internal world, mind will purify and become very quiet and settled. And when there is a peace inside your mind, it will be calm. There will be no fight or war inside. When suffering and pain end, peace itself will come.