See pain as a protector and a pointer
[Congregation program at Cincinnati, USA]
Transcribed by : Muralidhar Prabhu
We experience problems at different levels; when the body gives us pain then there is something wrong in the body which requires healing; pain is not pleasant but pain is purposeful; there are diseases when they become de-sensitised; if a mosquito bites them they do not experience pain; in age old homes we find that insects bite them and still they do not feel pain; Hiranyakasipu was performing so much austerities that only bones remained; pain actually protects us; if we put our hand on fire we move our hand because there is pain otherwise the whole hand will get burnt; in BG Krishna points out to miseries – janma, mrtyu, jara, vyati – why are they present? None of us want to have pain but still it comes; what purpose does pain serve; everything that exists has some purpose, whether we know it or not; change of weather makes vegetation possible; BG8.15 says that this world is dukhalayam and yet the BG is spoken so that Arjuna can be free from distress; the BG is not saying that this world is miserable and you continue to stay in misery; at the start of BG Arjuna was crying but at the end of the BG , Arjuna is happy and positive, he has regained his posture BG 18.73 and is willing to do Krishna’s will; the purpose of telling that this place is dukhalayam is to say that pain is a feature of the world and not the purpose of the world; the purpose of the world is not to cause pain but pain exists, it is a feature of the world;
the example to illustrate this is an hospital; in a hospital there will be pain but the purpose of the hospital is not to cause pain; similarly, this world is a place like a hospital and when we understand this world is like a hospital we moderate our expectations;
normally we experience distress in various ways; there are three coverings – covering of the body, covering of the society and covering of nature; adhyatmika, adhibhautik and adhidaivik; these three distresses can be dealt with at various levels; if there is a pain we take a medicine and cure it; if it is hot we go to a air conditioned room; the distresses can be dealt with at an immediate level; we can move away or change the situation for dealing with distress; sometimes we cannot move away from the distress; if the place we live is a cold place then we cannot do anything about it; if we focus only on dealing with the distress at an immediate level then we miss out on the bigger picture; the immediate level of distress and addressing it is like treating pain with a pain killer; when a person is sick the doctor gives a curative medicine; but along with that he also gives a pain killer; Isopanisad says that avidya plus vidya is required to attain fearlessness; we can navigate this world if we know the nature of this world and if we know about the Lord then we can go to His abode; basically the verse says have a balanced program where we deal with the immediate cause and the deeper cause;
Eastern civilisations has been on tolerating and focusing on deeper causes – acccepting and living with it; and Western civilisations it has been on focusing on immediate causes; the western approach has led to a lot of technological progress; a critic of western civilisation has coined a word called technopoly; it means technology dominates every aspect of people’s lives; technology is the art of arranging the world so that we do not experience the world; we arrange the world in such a way that we stop experiencing the world; it is a cold place but we do not experience the cold; a survey done of the western world – 5% of the time people are happy and 5% of the time they are in distress and 90% of the time they are bored; at one level day to day life is not very exciting; so now people are dependent on entertainment; this dependence on entertainment is because people want some pleasure otherwise life is so boring; in the past there was no tv nor internet and hence people should have been bored; but now we have so many different forms of entertainment and people still are bored; we have thru technology deadened ourselves to the world around us; kids have gone to a beautiful hill station; instead of looking at the scenery they were all looking at their phones and in their phones they were looking at scenery; we have thru technology disconnected ourselves to reality; because reality is distressing or boring; the result of this is that we are incapable of facing reality when reality intrudes inspite of the technology; stimulations thru technology has a limit and we go on increasing the intensity of stimulations which takes us away from reality; to the extent that reality becomes unbearable; if a person is sick and takes pain killer after pain killer, the pain may not be there but it has not gone away; it appears as though it has gone away because there is a disease which has to be cured; similarly entertainment can be stimulating as a break but if we start depending on entertainment for running away from reality that has a counterproductive effect; we all long for peace, joy and love; we long for these continuously and not just temporarily; yet we are not able to experience it; this incompatibility is meant to point us towards spirituality; there is an innate longing for happiness and a strong conviction that happiness is our right; yet the world around us causes distress; this incompatibility is meant to remind us spirituality; we can ask two kinds of questions – why do i want to be happy and why am i not happy; this incompatibility should make us contemplate us deeper.
SP in a lecture to the hippies, said that the American society does not appreciate you but I appreciate you; he said human life is meant to be frustrated; when one becomes frustrated then one enquires about spirituality; then we will find that something is missing; how many of us call a doctor to ask him how is he doing; we call a doctor only when we have a problem; similarly the spiritual growth is prompted when we have some dissatisfaction with the situation we are in; in BG it is said that four kinds of people come to Krishna; in kali yuga the four kinds are those who are in distress, those who are in distress and those who are in distress; distress prompts us;
if a patient is in pain and the doctor keeps giving strong and stronger does of pain killer; when we focus only on development of technology is similar to that; today there is so much entertainment available now- it is a mental need and not a spiritual need; the magnitude of entertainment is unparalleled; though there are so many different types of entertainment yet people are not satisfied; today the mind is more distressed than in the past; mental related medicines, like tranquilisers and anti-depressants are sold more now; what does this indicate? entertainment is like a pain killer for the mind; because the disease is not cured but covered internally it is getting worse; before we had 5 days test cricket then one day cricket, 20 overs cricket, etc; two primary entertainment – cricket and bollywood; phenomenal amount is spent on these two entertainment; entertainment is a need of the mind; entertainment is like a pain killer; hence what is the curative medicine – it is enlightenment; not entertainment but enlightenment; enlightenment means understanding truly who we are and what will make us happy; as soul we can find happiness at the spiritual level of reality; three level building – thru technology we have made a lot of progress for making the body more comfortable; thru technology we have provided a lot of entertainment for the mind; but the upper level is completely forgotten; that is where we truly belong; the distresses we experience at the physical and mental level is to point out that ultimately we do not belong here; we are parts of an all attractive Supreme; He has all the qualities that anyone can have; he is the best sportsman, the best entertainer, the most attractive person; whatever pleasure the world promises us all that and more is present in Krishna; BG10 – it is a spark of His splendour; in a desert a drop of water will not satisfy us; similarly whatever pleasure there is in this world it is like a drop; it is Krishna who is the ocean; to the extent we connect with Krishna to that extent we can experience happiness; if we enquire sincerely then Krishna will guide us thru the Gita or as the Paramattma within the heart, thru devotees, etc. As we march towards spiritual reality then we will experience happiness at a spiritual level;
as devotees we will also experience pain, but we may have to live with pain but need not have to live in pain; if we understand that I am a soul with a body then we will realise that only a part of us is in pain; this we understand when we experience our spirituality; to live with pain and not in pain, our consciousness must be attached to something bigger than the pain.
To live with pain means pain is a companion; suppose we are travelling in a train and the neighbour is talking loudly and disturb us; if we keep thinking about it then the disturbance consumes our consciousness; if someone speaks harshly we can get consumed by that disturbance; instead if we know that my real identity is above my ego then it will not consume my consciousness; our mind magnifies the problem and puts it in an auto-play mode; keep replaying a bad event will hurt us; this is to live in pain; living with pain is unavoidable but living in pain is avoidable; our primary role as a devotee is to fix our mind on Krishna; so that we can be purified and attracted to him; at another practical level by fixing the mind on Krishna can unfix it from the worldly fixations; the replay can be avoided by fixing our mind on Krishna; we will not only experience relief from problem but also experience higher happiness; BG18.58 – pain gives us an opportunity to experience the truth of this verse; What we are truly averse to is PURPOSELESS PAIN. If there is a purpose for life then we will have the strength to tolerate the pain. When I go to donate blood there they put a needle but I do not get irritated but if the same needle pokes me when I am stitching I get irritated. Bhakti gives us a big purpose. Our consciousness expands when we connect with Krishna; bhakti is ultimately meant to redefine our identity and purpose.
Pain protects us from a life forgetful of spirituality and pain is also a pointer towards spirituality.
Four broad ways of fixing mind on Krishna – name ( nama dhyan), form (rupa dhyan), qualities (leela dhyan) and service (seva dhyan); service is one we can have absorb our entire life in thoughts of Krishna; the PURPOSE defines the obsession; remembrance means to remember that our PURPOSE is to serve Krishna. VCT gives an example – a person for work may have to go away from the family; but at the same time they are aware that I am doing this for the family; FOREGROUND awareness and BACKGROUND awareness; fixing our mind on the PURPOSE of serving Krishna. Purpose gives the strength to tolerate.
How to know we are progressing in spiritual life?
Bhaktir para esa anubhava……….
Consciousness returns by default to a level; where does our consciousness normally return to; that happiness level slowly increases; habitual state of worry goes down; amplitude and frequency of ups and downs gets reduced;
External stimulation does not affect us much; spiritual progress is a gradual progress;
What is our response when difficulty comes?
What to do when the replay goes on and on? Interrupt the thought train; take a break; change the situation; interruption and not a solution? Get out of the head and get into the world- do something practical; if the physical level of reality does not require much attention then we get caught in the mental level of reality; worry time comes when there is leisure time; to stop replay, redirect the mind.