When problems befall us for no apparent reason, we naturally get the question, “Why?”
Materialism, today’s ruling worldview, attributes such misery to bad luck. It urges us to persevere, assuring us that eventually lady luck will smile at us.
However, reducing misery to mere misfortune makes us miss our potential for metaphysical enquiry, potential that misery prompts us to activate. The Bhagavad-gita demonstrates such activation. At its start (01.27), the misery of fighting against relatives overwhelmed Arjuna. Krishna didn’t offer platitudes such as “misery is misfortune”, but illumined him about life’s fundamental questions regarding identity and destiny.
See misery not as an accidental misfortune, but as a purposeful reminder of the essential incompatibility between our spiritual core and our material shell.
Gita wisdom explains that we are eternal spiritual beings seeking pleasure in temporary material things. From this existential incompatibility arises all our misery. No matter how many material things we achieve, we can’t change their temporary nature, so we just can’t go beyond misery.
Does this analysis imply that we just passively accept all misery?
The Gita urges us to actively counter misery but by pursuing spiritual development, not by obsessing over material improvement. As we are sat-cit-ananda (eternal enlightened ecstatic) souls, happiness is a part of our spiritual make-up. The more we realize that make-up by practicing bhakti-yoga, the more we relish inner joyfulness. But to get the impetus for practicing yoga diligently, we need to stop minimizing misery as an accidental misfortune. Instead, we need to see it as a purposeful reminder of the essential incompatibility between our spiritual core and our material shell.
Such reminders inspire us to raise our consciousness spiritually by practicing bhakti-yoga. When our consciousness rises, our perspective becomes clearer and calmer, helping us to not only find better ways for dealing with specific problems that befall us, but also experience the reality of spiritual shelter and satisfaction – the ultimate solution to all problems.
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