Hare Krishna and Pranam dear devotees,
I wrote about why devotees suffer in my last blog. Today I am sharing how devotees can find purpose in pain. A lifeline which the devotees can use to turn the negative into an uplifting experience. We can see the suffering of devotees from many angles of vision, this is just one of the ways to look at it, based upon our level of faith.
Find purpose in pain
1. Kindergarten: As a wake-up call, to understand that this world is a place of miseries, this body is an instrument to receive pain, I won’t find happiness here.
This material world is certified by the Supreme Lord, the creator, as duḥkhālayam. Duḥkhālayam means “the place of miseries.” And how you can make it comfortable? Can you make it comfortable by your so-called advancement of science? No. It is not possible. But we do not know what is duḥkha, or what is suffering. Real duḥkha is, real suffering is, birth and death, old age and disease. But we have set aside. Because we cannot make solution of these things, we don’t care for it.
(Lecture, New York, November 16, 1966)
2. Primary school: Helps us get a sense of urgency. It helps us to wake up from a sense of complacency, which may cover us after we have spent some time in Krishna consciousness. Our real home is somewhere else.
Sometimes Krsna may put us into some difficulty just to purify us and force us to advance in Krsna consciousness. The devotee should always see his difficulty in this light, that Krsna is so kind upon me for creating this condition of struggling, thus He is relieving me of so many billions of lifetime of sinful reactions by this very insignificant and temporary condition of suffering something.
(Letter to Vaikunthanatha — Bombay 29 December, 1972)
One who possesses good intelligence can deliberate properly and save himself from many dangerous conditions. In material existence there is danger at every step. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.58) it is said: padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām. This material world is not actually a place of residence for an intelligent person or a devotee because here there is danger at every step. Vaikuṇṭha is the real home for the devotee, for there is no anxiety and no danger. Good intelligence means becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious.
3. Secondary school: Knowing something of nature of the material world and that Krsna is the cause of all causes devotees at this level stay focused on the goal and tolerate suffering
Everyone is suffering who has got this material body. That is the condition. If you have got material body, you must suffer. It is not the question of European, American or white, black. There is no such question. If you are animal or man, as soon as you have got this material body, you must suffer. This is condition. This is material condition. Therefore our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is not meant for, I mean to say, mitigating the so-called sufferings of the body. When there is body, there must be suffering. So we should not be very much disturbed by the sufferings of the body.
(Lecture, Paris, June 9, 1974)
4. Graduate: They understand the philosophy and by their own experience they have realised that Krishna is sending them a message. Krishna wants us to learn something or develop some quality we lack. Devotees at this level gladly accept any suffering as the mercy of Krishna. They find purpose in pain.
A devotee is naturally so humble and meek that he accepts any condition of life as a blessing from the Lord. Tat te ‘nukampāṁ susamīkṣamāṇaḥ (SB 10.14.8). A devotee always accepts punishment from anyone as the mercy of the Lord. If one lives in this conception of life, he sees whatever reverses occur to be due to his past misdeeds, and therefore he never accuses anyone. On the contrary, he becomes increasingly attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead because of his being purified by his suffering. Suffering, therefore, is also a process of purification.
5. Postgraduate: Give me more! The pain or suffering becomes an impetus to remember Krishna. We see it very clearly in the prayers of Kunti maharani, whom Srila Prabhupada called ‘the most intelligent woman’.
I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.
Constantly remembering the lotus feet of the Lord means preparing for liberation from birth and death. Therefore, even though there are so-called calamities, they are welcome because they give us an opportunity to remember the Lord, which means liberation.
Irrespective of our level of advancement or consciousness, we should have faith in Krishna. We should know that nothing is happening by chance, there is a reason behind it and Krishna is in control.
Krishna does not like to see His sincere devotee suffer or become frustrated or depressed. He will not stand idly by in any such case, so do not fear on that account. Krishna has got some plan for you, always think in that way, and very soon He will provide everything to your heart’s desire.
(Letter to Tejiyas — Bombay 19 December, 1972)
What is really happening?
Lord Kṛṣṇa explains in the Bhagavad-gītā that a devotee who fully surrenders unto Him is no longer liable to suffer the reactions of his previous karma. However, because in his mind a devotee may still maintain the remnants of his previous sinful mentality, the Lord removes the last vestiges of the enjoying spirit by giving His devotee punishments that may sometimes resemble sinful reactions. The purpose of the entire creation of God is to rectify the living entity’s tendency to enjoy without the Lord, and therefore the particular punishment given for a sinful activity is specifically designed to curtail the mentality that produced the activity. Although a devotee has surrendered to the Lord’s devotional service, until he is completely perfect in Kṛṣṇa consciousness he may maintain a slight inclination to enjoy the false happiness of this world. The Lord therefore creates a particular situation to eradicate this remaining enjoying spirit. This unhappiness suffered by a sincere devotee is not technically a karmic reaction; it is rather the Lord’s special mercy for inducing His devotee to completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead.
Mood to cultivate
A sincere devotee earnestly desires to go back to the Lord’s abode. Therefore he willingly accepts the Lord’s merciful punishment and continues offering respects and obeisances to the Lord with his heart, words and body. Such a bona fide servant of the Lord, considering all hardship a small price to pay for gaining the personal association of the Lord, certainly becomes a legitimate son of God.
And the final result
My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.
Just as a legitimate son has to simply remain alive to gain an inheritance from his father, one who simply remains alive in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, automatically becomes eligible to receive the mercy of the Personality of Godhead. In other words, he will be promoted to the kingdom of God.
I hope and pray that the above compilation helps us to find purpose in pain, by turning our angle of vision. We should have firm faith that sincere and surrendered devotees do not receive karmic reactions rather they only receive Krishna’s mercy- bitter or sweet, both are good for us.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
p.s.- I will be happy to receive your comments or corrections.