Expect not the absence of the shadow; embrace the presence of the light
Devotee-seekers sometimes ask, “I am devoting myself to Krishna – why then am I still getting miseries in my life?”
Because misery is an intrinsic characteristic of material existence. Let’s understand with a light-shadow metaphor.
Krishna being the reservoir of all happiness is like the supreme sun, whereas miseries are like the shadow. When we attain Krishna’s abode, we become free from all miseries forever.
Matter being the separated energy of Krishna is always under the shadow. As long as we are in the material world, the shadow of miseries will fall on us, even when we devote ourselves to him. Bhakti-yoga provides us access to the light of Krishna by training us to fix our consciousness on him. Thus, bhakti provides us higher happiness and paves our way out of material existence.
The Bhagavad-gita (09.33) exhorts us to practice bhakti for getting out of this temporary miserable world. The verse accepts as a de facto reality the world’s miserable nature. The special blessing that bhakti offers is not the absence of the shadow of misery but the presence of the light, that is, access to Krishna and the higher happiness thereof. The more we absorb ourselves in him by practicing bhakti, the more we can tolerate and even transcend worldly miseries. But we can’t absorb ourselves in him as long as we expect a misery-free existence. Why? Because that expectation makes us doubt Krishna whenever misery occurs. And such doubts disrupt our absorption.
We need to instead accept misery as an inescapable fact of this world and see it as an impetus to embrace bhakti for going beyond the world. Then we can absorb ourselves in Krishna, thus finding spiritual happiness even amidst material misery and ultimately going beyond this doomed world to the blissful spiritual world.
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