Use circumstantial suffering as an impetus to address existential plight

Suppose we are in an ocean. We might be floating on a raft that may be jeopardized by small waves. Or we might be on a cruise ship that may not be jolted even by large waves. Still, both, being in the ocean, are vulnerable to its vagaries. 

When the ocean turns turbulent, we may be thrown overboard. We need to do all that we can to immediately get out of the water. Additionally, our circumstantial suffering needs to remind us of our existential plight: the ocean is not our natural home as humans; we need to reach the shore. 

Gita wisdom explains that we all are eternal souls who are presently in the material world, which is often compared to an ocean. In material existence, we may be in poverty, which is like being on a raft. Or we may be in prosperity, which is like being on a cruise ship. Either way, we are still in a world that is prone to distress (Bhagavad-gita 08.15). 

When suffering befalls us, we need to address those circumstances practically as much as we can. Simultaneously, we need to remind ourselves of our existential plight: we are in an unnatural situation. We are caught among material things because of our attachment to those things. Indeed, the purpose of all distresses is to remind us of our existential incompatibility. 

To find lasting relief, we need to elevate our consciousness and become attached to the ultimate spiritual reality, Krishna. If we become conscious of him, we can cross over all obstacles by his grace (18.58). If we use the circumstantial suffering as a spiritual impetus, we can progress toward life’s ultimate purpose: lasting love and joy in his transcendental abode. 

Think it over:

  • Even when we are not in circumstantial difficulty, how are we still existentially vulnerable?
  • How can the circumstantial point us to the transcendental?
  • How can you raise your consciousness from the circumstantial to the transcendental?


08.15: After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogīs in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.

Knowledge expands the avenues available for us to address those problems
The essence of karma is universal harmony, not judgmental morality
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