Suffering Blissfully by Achyut Gopal Das

"Whether we fear pain and suffering or not, pain and suffering will come to everyone. Why not keep our minds focused on where we want to go?" - Radhanath Swami

As soon as one takes to the role of being a preacher, one thing that invariably happens is that people come to you explaining their woes and sorrows. Probably because they see you as someone who knows a little more and is a little more spiritual than them and because they trust you, they open up their life in front of you. And the conversation ends with they sincerely asking you to pray for them. In my little experience, I have seen so many people come to me explaining their struggles. I am always left wondering about the phenomenon of life where everyone seems to have a unique problem of their own. Someone suffers from a deadly physical disease or disability; someone suffers from a failing relationship; someone suffers due to financial constraints; someone suffers from natural calamities; someone suffers from being mistreated or abused; someone suffers from uncontrollable addictions; someone suffers from death of their near and dear ones. And the list can keep going on and on. The permutations and combinations of sufferings are unlimited - the "suffering" menu on the table of the material world is unlimited.

Though, I too am in the same material mire and have my own struggles, I feel it's my duty, my service to at least pray for them. That's the least we can do but very often small but sincere prayers make a big difference in the lives of others. 

Whenever I see suffering around, I am always reminded of this verse from Bhagavad-Gita 15.7

mamaivāḿśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
prakṛti-sthāni karṣati

"The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind."

If we carefully read the translation of this verse, we will see a stark and ironical contrast between the two parts of this verse. In the first part, Lord Krishna mentions that we - the living entities are His parts and parcels but in the second part He mentions, how even though we are the part of the Supreme Lord, we are struggling hard in this world just to make ends meet. What a sad and tragic plight of all of us! Instead of enjoying with our Supreme Father in the spiritual world, we are struggling hard in this material world. And the greatest wonder is that we came to this world from the spiritual world to enjoy. But, instead of enjoying in this world, we are only suffering left, right and centre. How our mind has fooled us! For a tiny drop of enjoyment, we have to pay the price of slogging it out with our mind and senses. This applies not only to the poor but to also the rich. The Srimad-Bhagvatam explaining the phenomenon behind money, informs us that, the process to earn money is troublesome, the process to protect money is all the more troublesome and the process to spend money is also troublesome. Trouble in the beginning, trouble in the middle and trouble in the end. That's material life in short. This applies to every other material desire we have. 

No one can escape suffering in this world just like a person who enters the ocean can't expect to come out dry. To prove this point more emphatically, when both Lord Krishna and Lord Rama chose to descend in this world as human beings, They too went through one problem after another, showing us the nature of this world. If They had a life filled with difficulties we can't expect to have a rosy life. Life is then about making the best use of the bad bargain and learning our lessons and graduating out of this world of suffering to the world of pure bliss. Both Lord Krishna and Lord Rama showed us that there is no escape from problems but one can transcend the problems and remain unaffected like They did if we operate from a higher level of consciousness.

Jayanand Prabhu, one of the pioneers of ISKCON has been a hero to almost every devotee in ISKCON. Something interesting about him is that he would drive a taxi every day to maintain the growing expenses of the ISKCON temple in America. He would be so busy driving the full day, overworking to support the temple that he would hardly get much time to sit and read Srila Prabhupada's books. But, whenever he would be asked to give the morning discourses in the temple, he gave amazing classes filled with deep heartful realisations. He would cite the stories of the woe of the various people who came in his taxi and explained to the devotees with conviction that this material world is truly a place of suffering and misery and would inspire devotees to give up attachment to this world and take shelter of the process of Krishna consciousness as the only panacea for the remedy of our suffering. 

In a recent lecture, Shubha Vilas Prabhu, a national bestselling author was making a beautiful point quoting an example from Mahabharata. The Mahabharata explains that we, the living entities are like balls of flour, deep fried in the boiling pan of oil of the material world with the heat of material miseries till we come out fried out completely black. There is no way we can avoid this frying by material nature. Then, what is our hope? Our hope is that after being fried out from this pan, we can chose to immerse ourselves in the sugar syrup of Krishna consciousness and soak in the nectar, the bliss and the sweetness of this process and emerge out as the sweetest of sweet people like a gulabjamun - fully refined, mature and realized. If our suffering can be an impetus to take shelter of Krishna then such suffering is the source of the greatest joy. That is the reason why Queen Kunti prays to Lord Krishna for more suffering, so that she can intensely take shelter of His lotus feet and transcend all suffering once in for all. This is the only secret to be happy in this world and be blissful even amidst suffering.
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