Spirituality is not about suppressing grief – it is about transcending grief

The Bhagavad-gita (02.13) states that the spiritually enlightened are not bewildered by death. Does this mean that spiritualists shouldn’t grieve the death of their loved ones?

No, becoming spiritual doesn’t mean becoming stone-like – utterly unemotional.

Consider the example of Arjuna, the Gita’s original student. He was spiritually enlightened, yet he grieved the death of his son Abhimanyu. When Arjuna vented his heart-wrenching agony, Krishna didn’t chide him for being unspiritual or sentimental; nor did he ask him to suppress his grief. He offered Arjuna a comforting shoulder to cry on and a consoling flow of words to restore morale. Thus, he helped Arjuna to transcend his grief.

Suppressing grief can be unhealthy because suppressed emotions don’t usually go away – they fester inside and resurface in ugly forms at unexpected moments. So, instead of suppressing grief, we need to transcend it. How? By tapping an emotion that runs deeper than grief. The most potent deep-running emotion is spiritual emotion, emotion that links us as souls with our source and sustainer, Krishna. While practicing bhakti, we transcend grief not by suppressing our natural emotions in our human relationships, but by finding shelter in higher emotions coming from our spiritual relationship with Krishna.

What made Arjuna special and spiritual was not that he didn’t feel grief, but that he didn’t wallow in the grief. By his philosophical knowledge and devotional purposefulness, he soon rose out of his agony. On the day after Abhimanyu’s killing, Arjuna fought with a ferocious determination, winning one of the biggest victories for Krishna’s cause of establishing dharma.

By steadily practicing bhakti-yoga, we can strengthen our eternal relationship with Krishna. And in times of bereavement we can transcend grief by seeking solace in his remembrance and in the association of devotees who manifest his love in our life.

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