Knowledge expands the avenues available for us to address those problems

Suppose someone is coughing. If they have no medical knowledge, they might just try to suppress their cough, which might make the disease worse. A doctor would give them the appropriate medicine to counter the infection. If the infection is known to be an epidemic, an epidemiologist may recommend social distancing as a means to minimize the community spreading of the disease. If the infection is known to be a pandemic, the government may decide to close international borders to minimize the entry of the pathogens into the nation. Thus, the more knowledge we have about the nature and origin of a disease, the more avenues we can have for addressing it. And the more we can adopt a multi-pronged approach for dealing with the issue. 

The same principle applies to the distresses we face during the course of our life. The philosophical knowledge of the Bhagavad-gita helps us discern broadly three levels of causation for such distress: immediate, remote and ultimate. The immediate cause is circumstantial and can be addressed by adjusting those circumstances. Suppose we experience frigid weather; we can address it by wearing warm clothes and improving the heating in our homes. But suppose the weather is regularly cold; we may need to train ourselves to tolerate and live with it if we are obliged to live in that place. Ultimately, we all are spiritual beings, and we belong to a  higher spiritual level of reality. We need to raise our consciousness to the spiritual level and ultimately emigrate to spiritual reality to address our problems at their root. The Gita urges us to view our existential predicament with the eyes of knowledge (15.10).

Broadly speaking, the immediate cause needs to be addressed by mitigating it, the remote cause by tolerating and the ultimate cause by emigrating.

Think it over:

  • What are the three broad levels of causation for our problems?
  • How does knowledge increase our available options?
  • How can you view your problems with the eyes of knowledge?


15.10: The foolish cannot understand how a living entity can quit his body, nor can they understand what sort of body he enjoys under the spell of the modes of nature. But one whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see all this.


To help the distressed, address both their distress’ immediate cause and remote cause
Use circumstantial suffering as an impetus to address existential plight
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  1. What are remote and ultimate causes


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