ਜਗਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਮਲੁ ਲਾਗੀ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ॥:
Jagi haumai mailu dukhu paaiaa malu laagee doojai bhaai
On account of the filth of Haume (egotism), the world suffers in pain.
Because of the (love of Maya), the filth of duality sticks to the world (sggs 39).

Suffering (Dukha) is born of Vasanas (pronounced as Vaasnaas) — the undigested desires, psychological conditionings, latent memories, innate tendencies, inherent inclinations, etc. Vaasnaas produce thoughts, and thoughts produce actions. Whatever we do at the present becomes the memory of the past the very next moment! Hence all Vaasnaas are of the mind. On the other hand, our Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...), is simply Being. He is free of suffering as there is no Vaasnaas in Him. Seen thusly, suffering is not eternal. However, trouble starts when the Mool is confounded with the limited body-frame, resulting in the expression of Vaasnaas through the body-mind-intellect personality. This is the birth of ego-sense. All subtle impressions then turn into mental concepts. As with all mental concepts, frustration and suffering is inevitable.

  • ਦੁਖੁ ਸੁਖੁ ਦੀਆ ਜੇਹਾ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਨਿਬਹੈ ਜੀਅ ਨਾਲੇ ॥: Dukh sukh deeaa jehaa keeaa so nibahai jeea naale: God bestows pain and pleasure, according to the deeds done; the record of these actions stays with the Soul (sggs 581).
  • ਸੂਰੇ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਿ ਮਰਹਿ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਹਿ ॥ ਅੰਧੇ ਆਪੁ ਨ ਪਛਾਣਨੀ ਦੂਜੈ ਪਚਿ ਜਾਵਹਿ ॥ ਅਤਿ ਕਰੋਧ ਸਿਉ ਲੂਝਦੇ ਅਗੈ ਪਿਛੈ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਹਿ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਜੀਉ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਨ ਭਾਵਈ ਵੇਦ ਕੂਕਿ ਸੁਣਾਵਹਿ ॥ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਿ ਮੁਏ ਸੇ ਵਿਗਤੀ ਗਏ ਮਰਿ ਜਨਮਹਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਆਵਹਿ ॥੯॥: Soore eh na aakheeahi ahankaar marahi dukh paavahi ...: They are not called heroes, who die of egotism, suffering in pain. The (egotist) blind ones do not realize their own selves (their True Nature, Joti-Svaroopa, etc.); in the love of duality, they rot. They struggle with (others in) great anger; here and hereafter, they suffer in pain. The Dear Lord is not pleased by egotism; the Vedas proclaim this clearly. Those who die of egotism, will not find salvation. They die and are reborn, repeatedly ||9|| (sggs 1089).
  • ਗਣਤ ਗਣੀਐ ਸਹਸਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਜੀਐ ॥: Ganat ganeeai sahasaa dukh jeeai: By making calculations (of auspicious or inauspicious time, ਛੁਭ ਅਛੁਭ ਮੁਹੂਰਤਾਂ ਦੇ ਲੇਖੇ ਗਿਣਨੇ, etc.), doubt and suffering afflict the Jeeva - individual being (sggs 904).
What is suffering? If we know what the True Happiness is, then we can easily appreciate what the suffering is. Perfect harmony between the Spirit (inner) and matter (outer) constitutes Happiness. To the contrary, on accounts doubts (ਭਰਮ), identification of the inner with the outer manifests into all sorts of suffering. In other words, when perverted ego (Haume) identifies with Vaasnaas, mind, body, senses and intellect, it loses sight of one's Pure Being (Joti-Svaroopa). The result of this advertence is the spiritual ignorance and the suffering.
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਦੁਖੀਆ ਸਭੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥: Nanak dukheeaa sabhu sansaar: O Nanak, the whole world is suffering (sggs 954).
  • ਜਗਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਮਲੁ ਲਾਗੀ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ॥: Jagi haumai mailu dukhu paaiaa malu laagee doojai bhaai: On account of the filth of Haume (egotism), the world suffers in pain. Because of the (love of Maya), the filth of duality sticks to the world (sggs 39).

Deluded mind is the creator of subject-object relationship, the cause of Doojaa Bhaav (duality). With duality comes the phenomenal world of names, forms, time and space; giving rise to the error that we (Joti-Svaroop) are limited, helpless, and miserable. The consequent of such wrong idea is suffering. To put it otherwise, ignorance of one's Mool or Joti-Svaroop — man's True Nature as Unconditioned Consciousness — is the cause of worldly sorrows. Even though the scriptures repeatedly remind us that everyone is the Divine, but we still live in body-consciousness. This is the greatest of all mysteries Gurmukh and the Gurbani talk about.

The mind is nothing more than a bundle of thoughts comprised of Vaasnaas, habits, desires, frustrations, concepts, precepts, feelings, stress, and so on. All these thoughts constantly change. Consequently, anew mind is made every moment! Thus, the suffering is nothing but the rise of unwanted thoughts (ਫੁਰਨੇ). In other words, it is the deluded mind to whom happiness and suffering exist, not to the Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...). For example, in deep sleep, we do not feel suffering or otherwise. However, upon waking up, we get the feeling of pain, joy, etc. Why is it so that in deep sleep we did not feel any suffering, but upon waking up we feel everything? The reason is that, in the state of deep sleep, the ego is dormant; however, with our waking up there also arises the false ego-sense. With the rise of this physical ego arises the pluralistic phenomena called duality — "likes" and "dislikes".

  • ਮਨੁ ਮੈਲਾ ਹੈ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ॥: Mann mailaa hai doojai bhaai: The mind is polluted by the love of duality (sggs 121).
What is the cause of suffering? The forgetfulness of the Divine Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...), say the Gurbani. All human suffering is born of desires and fear of the non-self (body, senses, mind and intellect). Rooted in false ego, all sensual desires are meant for the followings: prolongation of life in the body, improving health, amassing of wealth, indulging in worldly pleasures, and so on. These desires debilitate one's behavior and personality, followed by confusion, frustration, delusion, and bewilderment of the mind. Which in turn gives rise to the feeling of "I, me, mine, you". Enslaved by the sensual pleasures, man loses his Divine Freedom and experiences grief and fear in return.
  • ਇਕੁ ਤਿਲੁ ਪਿਆਰਾ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਦੁਖੁ ਲਾਗੈ ਸੁਖੁ ਜਾਇ ॥: Ik til piaaraa visrai dukh laagai sukh jaai: If I forget my Beloved, even for an instant, suffering overtakes me and peace departs (sggs 59).
Desire and fear is a self-centered state. Desires as such do not cause suffering, but it is the craving to enjoy their fruits that causes suffering. In other words, it is the mind bewildered by the worldly concepts and ideas that craves material gains and fears any loss. This is our suffering.

With perverted understanding (egoity), man thinks of birth and worries about death. This is embodied existence. In such material outlook, he is tormented by the Cosmic Charmer called Maya in all sorts of ways. For example, Maya makes him suffer through the darkness of evil passions (lust, anger, greed, attachment, self conceit, mental stubbornness, and enviousness), and with the expression of pleasure and pain. It torments through repeated birth and death, intoxication with intellectual pride, love of the family, possessions, material comforts, household affairs, character, lifestyle, social status, madness of belief in caste (Jaat-Paat), and so on. More or less, all desires and fear afflict suffering. The nature, intensity, shape, and quality of desires depend on one's inner psyche which consists of Manna (mind), Budhi (intellect), Chit (memory or consciousness), and Ahankaar (ego). For example, if Taamas (ignorance and stupor) is predominant, mental perversions are the result, if Raajas (passions and greed) is predominant, passions arise, and if Saatav (goodness and wisdom) is predominant, the good and compassion are found. In reality, all these states are fetters. To illustrate, a gold chain (Saatav) can tie a man to a post just as securely as can a wire of silver (Raajas) or steel (Taamas). But the Supreme Truth is beyond all. This is the reason the scriptures urge us to transcend these three feelings.

  • ਕਈ ਕੋਟਿ ਰਾਜਸ ਤਾਮਸ ਸਾਤਕ ॥: Kayee koti raajas taamas saatak: Many millions abide in heated activity (Raajas), slothful darkness (Taamas) and peaceful light (Saatak) (sggs 276).
  • ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਅੰਧ ਹੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹ ਗੁਬਾਰ ॥: Trai gun bikhia andh hai maya moh gubar: Man is blinded by the wickedness of three qualities of nature — Taamas, Raajas and Saatav — and darkness of attachment (sggs 30).
Every material (Mayaic) joy is a suffering in disguise. The reality of material existence is that nothing ever stays permanent. Accordingly, any happiness experienced from material objects is also changeable, hence, temporary. Any experience of pleasure coming from the contact of senses with their objects has beginning and end. Such fleeting happiness derived from sense-objects tastes like nectar in the beginning, but turns out to be a poison (pain) in the end.
  • ਖਿਨ ਮਹਿ ਕਉੜੇ ਹੋਇ ਗਏ ਜਿਤੜੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਭੋਗ ॥: Khin mahi kaiourre hoi gae jitarre maya bhog: In a moment, all pleasures of the material world (because of which the Lord was forgotten, even those) become bitter (sggs 135).
  • ਮਿਠਾ ਕਰਿ ਕੈ ਕਉੜਾ ਖਾਇਆ ॥: Mithaa kar kai kaourraa khaaiaa: Deeming it sweet, they eat the bitter (sggs 1243).
  • ਮੁਖਿ ਬੇਰਾਵੈ ਅੰਤਿ ਠਗਾਵੈ ॥: Mukh beraavai anti thagaavai: In the beginning Maya seems to please, but in the end, she deceives (sggs 892).
  • ਸਭੇ ਵਸਤੂ ਕਉੜੀਆ ਸਚੇ ਨਾਉ ਮਿਠਾ ॥: Sabhai vasatoo kaorreeaa sache naaou mithaa: All material things are bitter; the True Name alone is sweet (sggs 321).
The aim of human life is removal of suffering. But how? In the Absolute Reality, there is no misery, suffering or pain. Our very nature is that Blissful-Conscious-Existence, which is Eternal Happiness. We are that Joti-Svaroop, suffering-free. Thus, Mool or Bliss is not gained anew or afresh. Verily we are That (Soham).
  • ਤਤੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਬਾਈ ਸੋਹੰ ਭੇਦੁ ਨ ਕੋਈ ਜੀਉ ॥: Tat niranjan joti sabaaee soham bhed na koee jeeou: The essence, the immaculate Lord, the Light of all — I am He and He is me — there is no difference (sggs 599).
If we are suffering-free, then who is it that suffers in us? To whom is the pain and misery? Suffering is of the phantom called mind. It is the mind that causes attachment to delusive objects. It is the mind which generates Mayaic efforts . It is the mind which unceasingly agitates our senses to act and secure for its worldly pleasures. Through the Bharam (doubts), pain appears as pleasure to it. The end result is suffering.
  • ਮਨ ਕਾ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ॥ ਭਰਮੇ ਭੂਲੇ ਆਵਉ ਜਾਉ ॥੧॥ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਕਬਹਿ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਹਰਿ ਕੈ ਨਾਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Mann kaa sootak doojaa bhaau. Bharme bhoole aavaou jaaou ||1|| Manmukh sootak kabahi n jaai. Jichar sabad na bheejai har kai naai ||1||Rahaaou||: The pollution of the mind is the love of duality. Infatuated by doubts man comes and goes. ||1||This pollution of the self-willed Manmukhs will never go away, as long as they do not dwell on the Shabad, and the Name of the Lord. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 229).
Since one's Pure Being (Joti-Svaroopa) dwells within, the suffering-free life also lies within. However, in our worldly Moorakhataa (foolishness) we search for a pain free life outside in mundane objects, wealth, honors, titles, sex, name, gain, fame, etc., which are all fetters! As a result, misery and sorrow overpowers the mind; just as a strong man overpowers a weak man.
  • ਘਰ ਹੀ ਮਹਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਭਰਪੂਰੁ ਹੈ ਮਨਮੁਖਾ ਸਾਦੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਜਿਉ ਕਸਤੂਰੀ ਮਿਰਗੁ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਭ੍ਰਮਦਾ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇਆ ॥: Ghar hee mahi amrit bharbhoor hai manmukhaa saad na paaiaa. Jiou kastooree mirg na janai bharamdaa bharm bhulaaiaa: As the body-house (the Soul, Heart, etc.) is brimful with the Amrit (Naam), still, because of the deluded mind, the self-willed Manmukh (perverse, one in material consciousness, etc.) does not recognize or experience it. (He is) like the deer, who does not recognize its own musk-scent (that is located within its own body); (but to find the musk-scent) it wanders around, deluded by doubt (sggs 644).
A weak or out of control mind is unable to realize its pain-free nature. The Gurbani says if you conquer the mind, you conquer the world. Thus, control of the mind is same as removal of suffering or attainment of liberation. And the control of the mind is none other than removal of the dispositions. How can we do that?Shabad Kamaaee or Abhyaas strengthen the mind spirituslly. Shabad-Vichaar is like a two-edge sword which can "kill" the serpent of the mind repleted with desires and fear.
  • ਭਾਈ ਰੇ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸਾਚਿ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਸਾਚੋ ਸਾਚੁ ਕਮਾਵਣਾ ਸਾਚੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਿਲਾਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Bhaaee re gurmati saach rahaaou. Saache saach kamavaanaa saachai shabad kamaaou ||1||Rahaaou||: O brother, follow the Gurmat (Teaching of the Shabad-Guru) and dwell in Truth. Practice only truth (Naam-Simran, etc.), and remain merged in the Shabad ||1||Pause|| (sggs 30).
  • ਸਚੁ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਬਦੁ ਹੈ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Sach karnee Sabad hai Saar: The practice of Truth is the essence of the Shabad (sggs 114).
Shabad-Vichaar is meant for purging the mind of thoughts and then making it one-pointed (becoming one with the Mool within). Aatam Giaan (Spiritual Wisdom) attained through the Shabad-Vichaar helps remove poisonous fangs of the mind serpent. After fangs are removed, the serpent still remains serpent, but it does not pose any danger to the snake charmer!
  • ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਬੁਝੈ ਹਰਿ ਕੈ ਨਾਮਿ ॥: Trishnaa bujhai Hari ke Naam: (Maya's) thirst (desire) is quenched with God's Name (sggs 682).
  • ਦੂਖੁ ਸੰਤਾਪੁ ਨ ਲਗਈ ਜਿਸੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਅਧਾਰੁ ॥: Dookh santaap na lagaee jis Hari kaa Naam adhaar: Suffering and sorrow do not touch those who have the Support of the Name of the Lord (sggs 44).
  • ਦੁਖ ਸੁਖ ਹੀ ਤੇ ਭਏ ਨਿਰਾਲੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸੀਲੁ ਸਨਾਹਾ ਹੇ ॥੮॥: Dukh sukh hee te bhaye niraale Gurmukh seel sanaahaa he ||8||: Those who become the Gurmukhs and wear the armor of humility, remain unaffected by pain and pleasure ||8|| (sggs 1032).
Detachment or dispassion is the absence of distractions from sense cravings. It is the knowledge (attained from Shabad-Vichaar) that the external objects are not the source of eternal joy. In other words, detachment from all mundane objects (un-Real) and attachment to God (Real) only constitute Bairaag (or Vairagya). Detachment does not mean that one should become inactive, idle or leave the family. It simply means, not to get attached to actions and their fruits. One who has developed the most intense Bairaag is never influenced adversely by the inherent charm of the mundane objects. He is fully aware that the enchanting worldly objects are full of venom that would deviate a devotee from the devotional path. Simply put: Bairaag is a complete attachment to spirit, and complete detachment from matter.
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੈਰਾਗ ਨ ਛੂਟਸਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Bin bairaag n shootas maya ||1||: Without detachment, Maya cannot be gotten rid of (cannot be liberated from Maya, etc.) ||1|| (sggs 329).
So long we take refuge in the instinctive or worldly mind, we suffer. Beyond the worldly mind, there is no suffering. The moment one realizes his Joti Svaroop, one's Mool within, he will be done with suffering. In other words, the moment one transcends the erroneous ideas created by Haumai (egotism or Mayaic Budhi), he  knows that his Joti Svaroop is eternally free of any pairs of "likes" and "dislikes" or pleasure and suffering. After the Mool is rediscovered, one sees everything existing in Joti Svaroop.
  • ਤਹ ਭਉ ਭਰਮਾ ਸੋਗੁ ਨ ਚਿੰਤਾ ॥ ਆਵਣੁ ਜਾਵਣੁ ਮਿਰਤੁ ਨ ਹੋਤਾ ॥ ਤਹ ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦ ਅਨਹਤ ਆਖਾਰੇ ॥: Tah bhaou bharmaa sog n chint ..: There is no fear, doubt, suffering or anxiety there; there is no coming or going, and no death there. There is eternal bliss, and the unstruck celestial music there (sggs 237).
  • Hari jeeyu man vasia sabh dookh visaaran haar: God dwells in the mind, and all suffering departs (sggs 423).
Thus, suffering ends by realizing one's Mool within, which is beyond relative consciousness or unconsciousness. The essence of a Mool-realized person is total acceptance of the life as it comes (Hukam or Bhaanaa Mannanaa). He does not suffer because he is friendly with inevitable. He may be aware of pain but he does not allow it to shatter him — he lets things take their course. He accepts suffering as "medicine". He takes pains as precious gifts from the Lord for there are many secrets in them. Such acceptance of afflictions takes the seeker deeper into his Mool than any material pleasure can.
  • ਦੁਖੁ ਦਾਰੂ ਸੁਖੁ ਰੋਗੁ ਭਇਆ ਜਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਤਾਮਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥: Dukh daaroo sukh rog bhaiaa jaa sukh taami n hoee: Suffering is (or becomes) the medicine, and Sukh (or pleasure becomes cause of) the disease; but if (the Real - spiritual or ਆਤਮਕ) Sukh (is experienced or Realized), then (no Dukh remains) (sggs 469).
  • ਸੁਖ ਦੁਖ ਸਮ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਣੀਅਹਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਭੇਦਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਇ ॥੫॥: Sukh dukh sam kar jaaneeahi Sabad bhed sukh hoi ||5||: Both pain and pleasure are to be known as one and the same; (real) Bliss is experienced when (the mind is) pierced through by the Shabad ||5|| (sggs 57).

— T. Singh