09.33: Seek not a problem-free life, but a purpose-filled life
The endless problems of life may wear us out and make us long for a problem-free life. Such a longing, however, is unrealistic and unfulfilling.
- Unrealistic: The Bhagavad-gita (9.33) declares that the entire material existence is an arena ridden intrinsically with temporariness and troublesomeness. Just as swimmers can never be dry in an ocean, we can never be problem-free in material existence.
- Unfulfilling: Though we may dislike problems, what we actually dread is purposeless problems. For example, patriotic individuals willingly, even eagerly, risk their lives to protect their country; what they dread is not becoming martyrs on a battlefield, but becoming casualties in an accident before they reach the battlefield. The first is purposeful, fulfilling and even glorious, whereas the second is purposeless, unfulfilling and even ignominious.
Gita wisdom helps us discover that purpose is innate to life, even in its seemingly valueless incidents and purposeless accidents: Krishna is orchestrating all the events in the world and in our life to facilitate and further our spiritual evolution.
We sometimes feel that life is purposeless because our subjective purpose contradicts this objective purpose of the world. Most of us conceive of material advancement as the natural purpose of our life, but this purpose can – and will – be frustrated irreparably by the very nature of the world. However, if we embrace spiritual advancement as our life’s foremost purpose, then we will uncover within every situation the opportunity to elevate our consciousness, enhance our character and enrich our devotion.
That’s why the same Gita verse (9.33) that apparently communicates such a gloomy assessment of material existence actually conveys one of the most upbeat and uplifting messages of the Gita: the purpose and power of devotion inspires us to transcend problems