08.15: Are we shooting the messenger instead of pondering the message?

by May 6, 2012

In the past, dictators would routinely shoot messengers who brought bad news. Today, the shooting is replaced by labeling.

Authentic spiritual teachers often find themselves at the receiving end of this trend of labeling. Many people frequently tag them as pessimists whenever they mention the Gita’s message (8.15) that this world is a place of intrinsic and inescapable misery.

But doesn’t the daily news confirm that psychophysical, interpersonal, and environmental problems (adhyatmika, adhibhautika and adhidaivika klesha) routinely play spoilsport in our hopes for worldly enjoyment? Closer home, can’t we see objectively how disease and old age embarrasses, immobilizes and agonizes our acquaintances? Can we prevent the fearsome invader named death from disrupting and even devastating the familiar contours of our life?

Thus, if we think objectively, the Gita teachers whom people label as pessimists are just stating facts. And the “news” that they are reporting is not even new; what is possibly new is people’s intellectual rationalization of their unwillingness see these facts.

All of us want to be happy and the Gita doesn’t deny our desire to be happy; in fact, it recognizes that right as intrinsic to our being. It declares that as souls who are by nature sat-cit-anand, we are innately joyful. And it urges us to reclaim our joyful nature by reviving our life of love in relationship with Krishna at the spiritual level. As we mistakenly seek that joy in the material level, the Gita reports the frustration inevitable at the material level so that vain hopes don’t cheat us of our right to spiritual happiness.

Thus, if we can just stop labeling the messenger and start pondering its message, we will discover that it is not pessimistic, but supremely optimistic


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