Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Begging For Compassion
I woke up today with a very clouded feeling. I laid on the couch with my daughter while she played around me. The phone suddenly rang. We usually don't get any calls at that time in the morning so I felt something was going to be wrong. The machine picked up and my mother in a distraught voice told me to call her back. I jumped and got the phone. My mother informed me that my grandmother had passed away last night. She had been there to see her last breath.
Honestly, what does one say at that moment? My mother was crying and I wanted to say something comforting. I closed my eyes and internally started praying for my grandmother's soul. I hung up and my mind started downloading a million thoughts at once.
This last week has been one of those trying weeks that force you to hold your ground. First, my wife had complications with her health that required serious medical attention. Now she's slowly getting better. Then my friend John found out he has lung cancer. He is currently going through chemotherapy treatments.
As I pray I think about the nature of this material world. It is a place of suffering. Why? Because everything is temporary. We want to enjoy and be happy by exploiting the material elements. Our mind contemplates the objects of the senses. We become attached. This attachment turns to lust. The senses want something new. Basically, happiness means keeping ourselves distracted from the suffering around us. We become frustrated when our senses fail us. The comforts we build around the body suddenly slip away.
Everything in this world is temporary. The body will die, our cars will break down, natural resources are running out, we have to work hard just so we have money, and now the economy is failing. We want a permanent, comfortable atmosphere but that is not found here.
We are eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss, but we are now thinking that we are these material designations. In this material atmosphere we are constantly plagued by miseries because that is the nature of this world. This is not our home. We are dreaming away.
In the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord continuously explains these points to Arjuna, who has become full of doubts. He has become overtaken by lamentation and dualities. In chapter five there is a great quote that can help us lighten the burden of the material world: "Before giving up this present body, if one is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses and check the force of desire and anger, he is well situated and is happy in this world. One whose happiness is within, who is active and rejoices within, and whose aim is inward is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme."
One problem may arise. One's heart may become very hard because of renunciation and diving into analytical study of the world. At that point, one becomes desensitized from others sufferings. This is a major stumbling block in spiritual life. One who loves Krishna loves every aspect of Krishna's creation. The sufferings of others becomes that devotees sufferings. The devotee's only suffering is others' suffering, and their happiness is the happiness of others.
One great saint who lived more than 500 years ago, displayed the ultimate compassion. His name was Vasudeva Datta. In Caitanya-caritamrta, it is stated that the Lord glorified Vasudeva as if He had a thousand mouths. Vasudeva Datta very sincerely stated: "My Lord, my heart breaks to see the suffering of all the conditioned souls; therefore I request You to transfer the karma of their sinful lives upon my head. My dear Lord, let me suffer perpetually in a hellish condition, accepting all the sinful reactions of all living entities. Please finish their diseased material life."
"When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard Vasudeva Datta's statement, His heart became very soft. Tears flowed from His eyes, and He began to tremble."
I read the news, I hear the sirens, I witness so much pain and suffering in this world but because my heart is still filled with envy and lust, I fail to develop compassion. I pray and I beg for mercy, but because of my offenses I remain very far the ocean of devotional service unto that Divine Couple Who enjoy pastimes in the eternal groves of Vraja.
Sitting here I look at the beautiful face of the Lord and pray to give strength and hope to others. I pray for my Grandmother who always had a smile on her face.