Trying to get rid of misery is like trying to get rid of one’s shadow
We usually want to avoid misery, especially when many miseries seem to be afflicting us from all sides. At such times, avoiding misery may become our primary, if not only, goal. But letting our goal decline to such an unambitious level is unfulfilling and unproductive. The many people who have relatively pain-free bodies are not necessarily happy – they have many other pains such as mental, social or environmental.
The point is that avoiding misery in this material world is impossible. The Bhagavad-gita (08.15) insightfully declares this world to be an abode of misery. Trying to get rid of misery here is like trying to get rid of one’s shadow. If we go into darkness, we might no longer see our shadow. But if we decide to live in darkness to avoid our shadow, we will not achieve anything, worthwhile. Similarly, some people by losing themselves in the darkness of intoxication may temporarily forget all the problems hounding them. But if they make seeking relief from misery their goal and seek shelter in such dark addictions, they will not achieve anything worthwhile.
In contrast, when we come into light, our shadow may even become more prominent. But we don’t have to see the shadow – it is behind us; if we keep our vision fixed ahead towards the light and the path illumined by the light, the presence of the shadow will not bother us.
Similarly, when we try to live in the light of Krishna’s wisdom, miseries may seem to increase. But we don’t have to be misery-conscious – we can be Krishna-conscious, striving to absorb ourselves in his remembrance and molding our life according to his instruction. The more we focus on him, the more we will be able to transcend the shadow of misery.
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