The Three Ways to End Suffering Suggested by the Mathematics of Spirituality

Suffering, as that term is generally understood in Vedanta, includes both pain and pleasure at the physical, mental and intellectual levels. That is to say, the term “suffering” subsumes all types of positive and negative worldly experiences to which a sentient being is subject to. Liberation is the freedom from these dualities to be achieved through spiritual detachment. Excerpted below is Section 10.5 of the book The Elegant Geometry of Our Inner Path to Enlightenment”, showing specific conclusions made possible from a mathematical analysis of how sentient beings interact with the world and experience pain and pleasure. They validate the fact well known to Vedantins that “karmaphala tyaga” (i.e. renouncing the fruits of action and acting selflessly without expectations) and “vasana kshaya” (i.e. purifying the mind) are the means to end suffering.

The Three Generic Remedies for Reducing Suffering

“The expected value of suffering at time t, denoted by Ŝ(t), is the product of three factors:

Ŝ(t) = I(t).D(t).cos2θ(t) ….. Eq. (10.5)

where I(t) = Ω.R(t) and D(t) = (1- Ik/I)

“The relationship follows from the definition of S in the general equations presented in Section 8.9. Suffering can  be eliminated if any one of the factors is zero. This suggests three general classes of remedies (tāmasic, rājasic, and sātvic) for alleviating suffering.

  1. Reduce I(t): I(t) is the mental energy and is reduced by decreasing R(t), the receptivity of mind. This is a tāmasic approach often involving the use of drugs or such other physical means to induce tamas or sleepiness and alter the mental status. This cannot be considered a valid spiritual approach. Further, its effects are quite transient. The mind returns to its former state of suffering once the drug wears off. Addiction and other negative side effects of the drugs render this approach materially and spiritually unfit as a true remedy.
  2. Reduce D(t): D(t) shows how strongly the jīva’s mind reacts to the object k contacted at time t.  The practice of tyāga as it was defined and analyzed earlier was shown to reduce or eliminate D(t) and thereby reduce/eliminate suffering.  Tyāga  is arguably the essence of karma yoga. It involves mental discipline and effort and hence this may be classified as the rājasic approach to reducing suffering.
  3. Reduce cos2θ(t):  Equations (7.2), (7.3), (7.4) and (8.5) go to show that cos2θ(t) is primarily dependent on the vāsana function V(x,t) and secondarily on the object k and willpower ω. The objects we encounter in the world are not under our control. What we are looking for is a way to end suffering irrespective of what we face in the world.  Re-shaping the vāsana function to skew it more to the right (that is, make it less tāmasic and rajasic and more sātvic) is the direct and permanent way to reduce cos2θ(t). But vāsanas in the causal body are imperceptible and cannot be directly manipulated. What remains available to us is the willpower ω which can be, and should be, increased through spiritual practices. Jñāna yoga and bhakti yoga and the spiritual practices such as viveka, vairāgya increase the will power which then can be applied to reduce cos2θ(t). Spiritual practices may also directly reduce vāsanas (See Chapter 11). This is the sātvic approach to reduce suffering which is essential to final liberation from all suffering.”

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