Misery is a fact of life, but it is not the purpose of life


During our life-journey, we all experience miseries, which may leave us disheartened, disoriented, devastated.

Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (08.15) states that the material world where we presently reside is a place of misery. If we don’t understand the verse’s context, thinking of it when we are distressed can increase our distress (“I am suffering now and I will have to suffer lifelong”). The verse’s thrust is that by taking Krishna’s shelter, we can transcend this miserable world and attain life eternal in the spiritual world.

To understand this affirmative intention of a negative depiction, consider the example of hospital. Pain is an undeniable, unavoidable fact of hospital life. Yet pain is not the hospital’s purpose – it is meant not to hurt people, but to heal them. Similarly, this world’s purpose is not to perpetuate or aggravate life’s miseries, but to help us see those miseries as impetuses for healing our consciousness.

Gita wisdom explains that we are at our core souls, who are eternal parts of Krishna and are meant to rejoice forever in his personal abode. Unfortunately, we are presently craving for lasting happiness in a world which offers at best flickering pleasure. Bhakti-yoga is a time-honored process for spiritual healing, for curing our misdirected desires, for redirecting them from the world to Krishna. And bhakti practice offers us relief not only when we are fully cured and attain Krishna in his abode, but also immediately and intermediately to the extent we cultivate absorption in him, thereby becoming cleansed of unhealthy desires.

So, misery is a fact of life, but it is not life’s purpose. That purpose is to love and serve Krishna, and the world’s miseries are meant to stimulate and accelerate the healing redirection of our love.

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