Leon Denis On Sorrow and Suffering – Part V

On Facing Sorrow

Learn how to suffer. I do not say seek sorrow! but when it comes, and stands in evitable in your path, receive it like a friend. Learn to appreciate its austere beauty, to seize its secret knowledge: study its hidden works, and in place of revolting against it, or resting inert and stunned under its action, associate your will with the aim fixed by sorrow, and seek to draw from it all the profit it can offer to a spirit or a heart. Force yourself to be an example for others, and by your acceptation of it, your courage, and your confidence in the future, render it more acceptable to other eyes. In a word, make sorrow beautiful! Harmony and beauty are universal laws, and in this ensemble sorrow has its aesthetic role.

Elevate yourself by higher views and hopes : see in it the supreme remedy for all the woes of earth. You who bend under the burdens of your trials, you who walk in the silence, no matter what comes, do not despair. Remember that nothing comes in vain, or without cause. Almost all our sorrows come from ourselves in the past, and they open the paths to heaven for us. Suffering is an initiation. It reveals the serious inspiring side of life. Life is not a frivolous comedy, but often a poignant tragedy. It is the struggle for the conquest of spiritual life, and in this struggle we must employ all that is great within us—patience firmness—heroism—resignation. Those old allegories of Prometheus and the Argonauts, and the sacred mysteries of the Orient, had no other meaning. A profound instinct makes us admire those whose existence is a perpetual combat with sorrow, a constant effort to climb the abrupt heights which lead to virgin summits and unviolated treasures. We do not admire only the heroism which brings forth the enthusiasm of crowds, but also that which strives in obscurity against privations, maladies, and miseries, all that detaches souls from material ties and transitory things. They strengthen the character for the combat of life—develop force and resistance—take from the soul all that weakens it—elevate the ideal to the pinnacle of force and grandeur. This is what education should adopt for the essential objective.

Let us open our souls to the breath of space, and lift ourselves to the limitless future. This future belongs to us! our task is to conquer it

  • This concludes the five part series (Notes) on “sorrow and suffering” by Leon Denis

Excerpt from “Life and Destiny”, Leon Denis (1846 – 1927), Translated by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Leon Denis On Sorrow and Suffering – Part IV

On Sorrow as an evolutionary tool

Suffering is a rudimentary method of animal evolution. Through it they acquire the first dawning of consciousness. It is the same with human beings in successive incarnations. If, one were exempt from suffering, man would remain inert—passive, and ignorant of profound moral truths. Our aim is onward ! our destiny is to march toward the goal without stopping by the way. The joys of this world immobilise us, they retard us; then sorrow comes and pushes us forward. As soon as there opens for us a source of pleasure, for instance in our youth, love and marriage—and we lose ourselves in the enchantment of these blessings, almost always soon afterward an unforeseen circumstance arises, and the blade of sorrow is felt.

In the measure that we advance in life, joys diminish and sorrows increase. The body becomes heavier —the weight of years more burdensome. With most lives, existence commences in happiness and ends in sadness. With age, the light grows dim, dreams vanish—sympathies and consolations lessen. Graves thicken about us; then come the long hours of inaction and suffering. They oblige us to enter into ourselves, and to review our lives. This is a necessary trial for the soul, in order that before it quits the body it may acquire a clear-seeing judgment of the events of its terrestrial careers. So when we curse the hours of age, which are in appearance desolate and sterile, we ignore one of the greatest benefits which nature has offered us. We forget that sorrowful old age is the crucible wherein the soul completes its purification. At this moment of existence the forces which during the years of virility we dispense in every direction in our exuberance, concentrate and converge toward the profound depths of being, awakening the consciousness and procuring wisdom for the man of maturity. Little by little harmony is established between our thoughts and the exterior radiations, and the inner melody chords with the melody divine.

On ending of suffering

Suffering will be necessary as long as man does not think and act in harmony with eternal law. It  will cease as soon as the accord is established. All our evils come from what we do in opposition to the currents of divine life For a long time to come, earthly humanity, ignorant of these superior laws, unconscious of duty, will have need of sorrow to stimulate it on its way and to transform its primitive and gross instincts into pure and generous sentiments. For a long time man must pass through the bitter initiative before arriving at knowledge of himself and his goal. At present he thinks only of using his faculties to combat physical suffering—to augment riches and well-being on the material plane, and to render earthly conditions of life agreeable.

Leon Denis On Sorrow and Suffering – Part III

On Nobody escapes sorrow

Sorrow does not strike only the culpable. In our world, honest men suffer as much as the wicked. The virtuous soul, being more evolved, is more sensitive.

To gross souls come violent physical suffering; to the selfish and mercenary, loss of fortune; to the pessimist, torment of mind; for delicate souls, hidden sorrows and heart wounds; and to great thinkers, subtle and profound griefs which send forth sublime cries from the source of genius. Astonishing as it may seem at first, sorrow is but a means of infinite power to attract us to it, and at the same time to bring us more rapidly to spiritual happiness, which alone is durable.

On Why physical suffering

Physical suffering is often an effort of nature which seeks to save us from excess. Without it we would abuse our organs to the point of untimely destruction. When a serious malady attacks us, it often becomes a benefit by causing us to realise and to detest the vices which have caused it. Sometimes we must suffer to understand the laws of health. To weak souls, sickness comes to teach patience, wisdom, and self-control.

To strong souls it offers ideal compensations, in leaving the mind free for flights of aspiration, to the point of forgetting physical suffering. Suffering is no less efficacious for society collective than for the individual. Through it were formed the first human groups. Through the menace of wild beasts, of hunger and floods, men were constrained to band themselves together, and through their common lives, their common sufferings, through their intelligence and labour, came forth civilisation, the arts, sciences, and industries. Again, we can say that physical suffering results often from the disproportion between our corporeal weakness and the colossal forces which surround us. We can only assimilate for ourselves an infinitesimal portion of these forces, but they act upon us constantly, striving to enlarge the sphere of our activity and the power of our sensations

Leon Denis On Sorrow and Suffering – Part II

On Inevitability of suffering:

Suffering is not expiation. All nature suffers: all which lives—the plant, the animal, the man, are submitted to pain. Suffering is a means of evolution, of education.

Physical suffering and moral anguish refine the spirit, and only the benefactions acquired by ourselves, slowly and painfully, are appreciated. Sorrow, suffering, are obligatory roles of earth life. They are the whip—the spur urging us on, and so the evils of life have only a relative and passing character.The soul never sings better than when in sorrow. When pain touches the depths of being, it brings forth eloquent and powerful appeals which move the world.

On Sorrow –  is it a reparation for the past—a ransom for faults committed?

At the foundation, sorrow is only a law of education and equilibrium. Without doubt the faults of the past fall upon us with all their burdens, and determine the conditions of our destiny. Suffering is often only the counterstroke of violations of eternal order: but shared by all, it should be considered as an agent of development—a condition of progress. All beings must submit to it in their turn; its action is beneficial to those who understand it, but only those can understand it who have felt its powerful effects.

On sorrow being a tool for elevation

The history of the world is but the story of the coronation of the soul by sorrow. Without it, virtue could not be complete, or glory imperishable. We must suffer, to grow and to conquer; acts of sacrifice increase spiritual radiations. There is a luminous train which follows spirits of heroes and martyrs in space. Those who have not suffered cannot comprehend these things, for they see only the surface of life; their feelings have not been amplified, and their thoughts embrace only narrow horizons. So, by the will, we can vanquish sorrow, or at least turn it to our profit, and make it an instrument of elevation. The idea that we make for ourselves of joy and pain varies infinitely with the evolution of the individual. The good, wise, and pure soul cannot find happiness in the same manner as the vulgarian.

virtues, sorrow is necessary. Misfortunes and trials stir in us the sources of an unknown life—a more profound life. Sadness and suffering cause us to see, hear, and feel a thousand delicate and powerful things that the happy or the vulgar man never perceives. The material world begins to seem obscure—another is vaguely designed but grows more and more distinct,

Misfortune and anguish are needed to give the soul its richness, its moral beauty, and to awaken its sleeping senses. The sorrowful life is an alembic from which are distilled souls for better worlds. The form, like the soul, is embellished by suffering. There is a charm, at once tender and serious, in the faces which have been often bathed in tears. They take on an austere beauty—a sort of majesty—impressive, yet seductive.

Leon Denis On Sorrow and Suffering – Part I

To all who ask “Why is sorrow?”

“Why do we polish the gem—sculpture the marble—hammer the iron—melt the glass?” It is in order to build and ornament the magnificent temple full of rays, of vibrations, of hymns, of perfumes, where all the arts combine to express the divine; to prepare the apotheosis of conscious thought—to celebrate the liberation of the spirit.

In man sorrow is used to construct a splendid altar in the heart of man, of moral beauty and eternal truth. In the gross block of marble is hidden the ideal statue, and when man has not the energy, the knowledge, or the will to bring it forth, then comes sorrow. It takes the hammer and the chisel, and little by little, with strokes violent or persistent, the living statue is designed with supple contours and gleaming beauty. Under the broken quartz the glowing emerald shines!

We must know mourning and tears, ingratitude and treason, the deception of friends, and the anguish of disillusionment. We must see cherished forms descend into the tomb—youth depart, and old age come, with its bitter sorrows. Man must suffer, as the fruit of the vine is pressed that its exquisite liquid may be extracted. But because it is good and profitable to suffer, since suffering liberates us, while it executes the verdict of the conscience.

It requires the shock of trouble and sorrow to make him understand the fragility of exterior things and to guide him toward the search of himself—toward the discovery of his spiritual wealth. That is why great souls become more noble and beautiful as their sorrows become keener: with each new blow, they have the consciousness of approaching a little nearer to truth and perfection, and this thought is like a bitter tonic

In minds of high intelligence and culture sorrow sows rich seeds, and every grief is a blade from which springs a harvest of virtue and beauty. At certain hours of our lives—the death of a mother—the crushing of an ardent hope—the loss of a loved one—each time that one of the ties which bind us to this world is broken, a mysterious voice cries from the depths of our souls—a solemn voice which speaks to  us of a thousand laws more august and venerable than those of earth, and an ideal world dawns on us.

Sorrow and pleasure are the two extreme forms of sensation. To suppress one or the other, we must suppress sensibility; they are inseparable in principle, and both are necessary to the education of the being, who in his evolution must drain all the illimitable forms of pleasure and of sorrow.

It Takes A Village To Make a Man

It takes a village to make a man is a famous aphorism. Simple as it sounds, profound is the insight it offers. The man or woman as they become are the product of their circumstances. They are born in a family, with limited awareness, consciousness whatever you may call it where they have their first lesson in the school of life. It starts with habits, food, clothing, language, religion, culture etc, etc,then their environment, surround, extended family, neighbours and friends help in moulding the man. In the next level the society, it’s structure, education, news, mass media and other systems starts defining his thoughts, desires, feelings and acts. So goes the another saying, what parents can not teach the world will.

As, J.Krishnamurti says, ” your mind is conditioned right through. There is no part of you whis is unconditioned.” All of us are conditioned right from birth to death by the world around us and in turn impact it. Thus who we are is the amalgam of thought, desire, feelings and acts of many people, near and far, known and unknown, older or younger, successful or not, and living and dead.

Thus moulded,  you carry others in you. The pile keeps growing as one ages. You keep adding layer after layer.  Suddenly after many autumns, you realise that the  “me” in one has been transformed beyond recognition.  No more is it possible to distinguish the essential “me”, the base, from others. That is when the mind open us with the eternal existential question ” WHO AM I”

Leon Denis on “Thought”

Importance of thought

There is no subject more important than the study of thought, its powers and its action. It is the initial cause of our elevation or our abasement. It prepares all the discoveries of science, all the marvels of art, but also all the misery and shamefulness of humanity. Following its given impulse, it founds or destroys institutions, empires, and characters.

Man is only great, save through his thoughts, for by them his works shine and are perpetuated through the centuries.

On Thoughts, Feelings and Expression

To give thought all its force and its amplitude, study great problems. To express freely we must first feel powerfully—to enjoy the high and profound sensations, we must go to the source from which flows all life, harmony, and beauty. All that is noble and elevating in the domain of intellect emanates from the one eternal source of living thought.

Thought and the body:

The influence of thought on the body is revealed to us by occurrences observable about us every moment. Fear paralyses the movements; astonishment, shame, and terror provoke pallor of colour; anguish affects the heart action; grief causes tears to flow, and long continued produces lowering of vital forces. These are all proofs of the powerful action of the mind on the material envelope.

Thought Works

Thought is creative. It not only acts about us, influencing others for good or ill, but above all, it acts in us. It generates our words and our actions, and by them constructs each day the glorious or miserable edifice of our life present and to be. We fashion our soul and its envelope by our thoughts. They produce forms and images which are printed on the subtle material of which our etheric body is composed. So little by little our life is peopled with forms frivolous or austere, gracious or terrible, gross or sublime; and the soul shines with beauty, or grows ugly and repulsive.

Call to artists:

O writers, artists, poets, you whose numbers increase daily, whose productions multiply like a rising tide, often beautiful in form, but weak at the foundation—superficial and material, what talents you expend on mediocre results ! what vast efforts are wasted on evil passions, on inferior and unworthy interests!

Think on these things

We waste our thinking with puerile and sterile studies, with work which blunts the conscience, and the spirit.

Who among you will give the world the epic of the soul striving for the conquest of its destiny in the immense cycle of the ages—its sorrows and its joys, its descent into the abysses of life, its rising on wings of aspiration into the light—its immolations and holocausts which are ransoms for past acts—its redeeming missions and its growing participation in divinity?

Which one of you will give to earth the powerful harmonies of the universe—the gigantic harp vibrating under the thought of God—the song of worlds, the eternal rhythm which rocks the cradle of the stars and the humanities!

Who will tell of the conquests of life —life always growing greater, more serene, more illumined by rays from on high? The march from summit to summit, the pursuit of happiness—of power and pure love?

Who will sing the work of man immortal toiler, lifting through his doubts, anguish, and tears, the sublime and harmonious edifice of his thinking consciousness and personality—always onward—always upward—always higher? Who will teach us these things? The inner voices, and the voices from Beyond!

We are What we think

We are what we think, if we think with force and persistence and will. But almost always our thoughts pass constantly from one subject to another, rarely do we think for ourselves, but instead reflect the thousand incoherent thoughts of the environment where we dwell. Few men know how to think: how to drink from profound sources—from the great reservoir of inspiration which each one carries within himself—even the most ignorant. They make for themselves an envelope peopled with ephemeral forms. Their minds are like a building open to every passer-by. Rays of light are mingled with shadows in perpetual chaos.

On need to Control our thoughts

Before all other things, to learn how to control our thoughts is most important; how to discipline and turn them in one direction toward a noble and dignified goal. The control of thought leads to the control of actions; for if one is good the other will be equally so, and harmony will regulate our lives. If our acts are good and our thoughts are bad, and we carry in ourselves a false centre, sooner or later the influence of our evil thoughts will fall fatally upon us. Sometimes we see a striking contradiction between the thoughts, writings, and actions of certain men, and we are led to doubt the good faith and sincerity of their utterances. But often the acts of these men are but the blind impulsion of accumulated thoughts and forces that will be realized in future actions.

On avoidance of news, noise and discussions

Avoid noisy discussions, vain words, frivolous reading: read daily papers sparingly. Passing lightly as they do from one subject to another, they render the mind unstable. We live in a period of anaemic intellectuality which is caused by the rarity of serious study and the insufficient educative system: let us attach ourselves to substantial works—to works which can enlighten us on the profound laws of life and facilitate our evolution. Little by little we will find growing in us a greater intelligence and consciousness, and our etheric body will shine with reflections of high and pure thoughts.

On reading, thinking and assimilation

It is well to choose our reading with care, then to let our thoughts ripen it until we can assimilate the quintessence. In general, we read too much—too hastily—and meditate not at all! It is better to read less and reflect more on what we read. It is a sure method of fortifying our intelligence to gather the fruits of wisdom and beauty which we find in good books:

In silent, reflective study lies development of the thoughts. The greatest works are elaborated in the silence. In meditation the mind is concentrated: it turns toward the grave and serious side of things: the light spiritual world inundates it. About the thinker, invisible great spirits come, eager to inspire him. It is in the half-light of tranquil hours, or in the discreet shade of his study lamp, that they can best enter into communication with him.

Excerpt from “Life and Destiny”, Leon Denis (1846 – 1927), Translated by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Leon Denis on – “Death”


Death is but a change of state; the destruction of a fragile form which no longer furnishes life with the necessary conditions for its evolution. On the other side of the tomb, another phase of existence opens. The spirit in form etheric, imponderable, prepares for new incarnations.

Know that the bones and dust which lie there are nothing; the souls which animated them are gone. They will come again in more refined and subtle forms. From the bosom of the Invisible, where your prayers reach and move them, they follow you with their loving eyes; they smile, and they respond to your thoughts. They are often at your side—these beloved beings you seek in the cemetery. They come and watch over you—they who were the companions of your joys and sorrows. Around you float a throng of beings who disappeared in death, a throng which calls to you, and tries to show the path for you to pursue.

Why, then, this fear of death—this poignant anxiety regarding the act which is not the end of life?

The spiritualist knows death ends nothing. It is for him the entrance into a mode of life full of rich impressions and sensations. Not only are we still in possession of spiritual joys, but they are augmented by new resources and more varied powers of enjoyment. Death does not even deprive us of the things of earth; we continue to see those we loved and left behind us. From the bosom of space we follow the progress of this planet; we see the changes which take place; and we assist in new discoveries, in the development of nations politically, socially, and religiously:

and until the hour of our return to flesh we participate, etherically, to the measure of our power and our advancement, in the labours of those who toil for humanity. Instead of avoiding the idea of death, we should look it in the face, and know what it is. Let us disengage it from the shadows and chimeras with whichit has been enveloped, and ask of it in what manner we should prepare ourselves for this necessary and natural incident in the course of life.


In truth, what would happen if death were suppressed? This globe would become too small to contain the throngs of humanity. While here we weep over the departure of those who are lost to us in seeming nothingness, above us beings glorified welcome their arrival in the light in the same manner that we welcome the arrival of an infant whose soul comes to blossom newly on earth. Our dead are the living in Heaven.

Many people fear the physical phases of death, but the spirits tell us that the moment of death is almost always painless. Death is but falling asleep. The knowledge which we have been able to acquire of the conditions of the future life exercises a great influence on our last moments. It gives us more assurance, and enables the soul to quickly disengage itself.

Death is but a change of state; the destruction of a fragile form which no longer furnishes life with the necessary conditions for its evolution. Our progress demands that one day or another we should be relieved from this earthly envelope which, after having rendered its service, becomes unsuitable for other plans of destiny.

Every time death knocks at our door in its splendid austerity it is an invitation to us to live better, to act better, and to increase the worth of our lives by ceaseless efforts. Death, it tells us, changes nothing in our spiritual nature or our character—that which constitutes the veritable ME. It simply sets us free in the measure of our advancement.

While here we weep over the departure of those who are lost to us in seeming nothingness, above us beings glorified welcome their arrival in the light in the same manner that we welcome the arrival of an infant whose soul comes to blossom newly on earth. Our dead are the living in Heaven. Many people fear the physical phases of death, but the spirits tell us that the moment of death is almost always painless. Death is but falling asleep.

The human being pertains to two worlds. By his physical body, he is tied to the visible world ; by his etheric body, to the invisible. Sleep is the temporary separation of the two bodies; Death, the separation definite. Birth is a death to the soul. It is prisoned with its etheric body in the tomb of flesh. What we call death is simply the return of the our soul to liberty, enriched by the acquisitions it has been able to make during the course of its earth life.

The best means of securing a sweet and peaceful death, is to live worthily, simply, soberly, and to vitalise existence with high thoughts and noble actions.

Excerpt from: “Life and Destiny”, Leon Denis (1846 – 1927), Translated by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Who Said Life is Logical

In darkness one knows light

In hardness you value softness

In life’s joyous moment you forget it’s blows

If in the same line, is death

To teach us what is life and living.

I tried to read life and people around in vain

To see if life has a pattern, a meaning, a purpose

A rule book, a ruler  and set of players,

For order in chaos, for a road map

For no amount of googling can answer why and how

Father time operates and what is well lived life.

For people die, poor and rich, young and old

Healthy, sick, busy, lazy, giving or taking

Working  hard or hardly working

Better placed or worse off than how they entered this life,

So what is life. Is it a temporary sojourn

A pit stop with continuity before and after life

How does one say a well lived life

Is it in number years spent in earth

Or is it leaving it a better place than your came in

If one is to go in his own journey leaving people behind

Why meet up, team up and live together

with a open ended contract end of which

A living dead and another dead living.

Will any one answer this please!!!

Living Life

To be or not to to be, the question from time immemorial

If everything in life is impermanent, To be here today and vanish tomorrow

To light you up now and pit you to darkness then

If everything is to end suddenly here, in this corporeal world

If dynasties were to fall for new one to ascend

If waves and cyles are the designs of life,

Do you dare to face the viscititudes of life.

Like travellers on Earth in a perpetual trail

From one place to another and on constant move

Knowing not the destination and duration

Yet being in the movement and enjoying life.

Do we live like a butterfly on the moment,

Darting between flowers ever in motion drinking nectar

To have a colourful, dancing and short life

Or to be like a turtle slow and steady,

Carrying the burden of world in its shoulder long

Will some one or can some tell,

What is the right way or is there a right way.

Life as I see around, in its multitudes

Today at the top of the world, Happy, joyous, proud, contented and fulfilled

Tomorrow like a ship wrecked, grounded and shattered

Woe to the life, how I wish I can understand you.