Thursday, May 15, 2008


In the past week, we have seen and heard much suffering in this world. The cyclone in Burma, the volcano in Chile, tornadoes in America, and recently the earthquake in China. That's not even mentioning the Iraq war, people dying from starvation, dying of depression, dying of cancer and other diseases. This is just some of the sufferings in the human society, but what about the animal kingdom?
This world is known as Mrityu-loka, the world of death. This is a place of suffering. In Buddhism, Lord Buddha spoke of the Four Noble Truths: 1. Life means suffering; 2. The origin of suffering is attachment; 3. The cessation of suffering is attainable; 4. The Path to the cessation of suffering. As mentioned by Lord Buddha, attachment is the origin of suffering. This is why we suffer. In Bhagavad-gita Chapter 2, text 62-63 states: "While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises. From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool."
We are attached to I and Mine. I am this material body and whatever is connected to the material body for sense pleasure is mine. The material I and mine created by the false ego is temporary. The bodies are born and must die. The soul is eternal, ever existing as a spark from God. Due to ignorance, we identify with the material rather than the spiritual. We seek pleasure in the temporary. The soul is ever pleasure seeking. The only problem is we don't seek spiritual pleasure.
Why is there suffering at all? We create the suffering. Klesha is the Sanskrit word for suffering. There are three main sufferings: 1. Suffering caused by other living entities; 2. Suffering caused by our mind; and 3. Suffering caused by natural disasters which are controlled by demigods. We become attached to this dreamlike world and must suffer because of our material attachments.
Now, karma also plays a part in our suffering. We are unable to perceive our actions in previous lives, and therefore find it hard to deal with the reactions we are receiving. If you stole from someone in a past life then in this life that person will get the chance to steal from you. You will be flabbergasted at the reaction but this is the science of the soul. We are the cause of our troubles. You can't blame God or anybody else. We must accept responsibility and change our ways. People are frustrated when good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. But with spiritual vision we can understand perfectly.
Natural disasters especially happen by the arrangement of Providence to relieve Mother Earth of so much burden. Our Mother feels the heavy burden of populations who are committing violence to Her and others. It is stated that Mother Earth can almost tolerate everything, except a liar. This is why wars are also arranged. To materialists this can be easily misunderstood as the universe and God being punishers and executioners, but they do not understand that these people are simply changing bodies as if they were changing clothes. The body dies, the soul is eternal. This is mercy on those who create violence so they can be free from their karma and have a higher birth.
Those who believe in karma are not hard hearted. Spiritual people are in fact supposed to be extremely soft hearted. A spiritual person should cry hearing the sufferings of others. In fact this is the only way a spiritualist suffers. Para-duhkha-duhkhi: The spiritualists suffering is the suffering of others. In many instances, Srial Prabhupada would cry. One time is when he saw some retired men playing golf. He couldn't believe people were wasting their human lives. Another time was in India when the dogs were eating next to a village where kids didn't even have enough food. That's when he said, "No one should go hungry where we have set up our temples. We should feed everyone."
When we are free from the false ego we will not suffer due to external objects. But this suffering should be a wake up call to be detached and remind us that this world is not comfortable. We may have a great house, great bank balance, high position in society, but at any moment we can get kicked out of our comfort zone. And sooner or later cruel death will take everything away. So we should take shelter of that which is spiritual. That which can give us real shelter.

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