|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Spiritual Questions & Answers > Swami QnA 2007 > God and People Suffering|
Title: God and People Suffering
User: Swami Gaurangapada Date: 2007-03-15 07:10:29
"A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard
trimmed. The Barber began to work. They began to have a good
conversation. They talked about so many things and various
subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God,
the barber said: "I don't believe that God exists.
"Why do you say that?" asked the customer.
"Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God
doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick
people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there
would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God
who would allow all of these things."
The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he
didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and
the customer left the shop.
Just after he left the barber抯 shop, he saw a man in the street with
long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and
unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barbershop again
and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."
"How can you say that?" asked the surprised Barber "I am here, and
I am a barber. And I just worked on you!" "No!" the customer exclaimed.
"Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with
dirty long hair and untrimmed beards like that man outside." "Ah, but
barbers DO exist! What happens is people do not come to me." "Exactly!"
affirmed the customer. "That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! What
happens, is, people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why
there's so much pain and suffering in the world."
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Beautiful! Thank You veru much for this story. Yours, Matus
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Dearest Swami Gaurangapada,
Can you possibly add to this beautiful parable by commenting on subtle energy transference and about how thereby worldly people may cause inner suffering for the devotee?
Sometimes I have the feeling that worldly people are unconsciously attracted to us and are somehow holding us back from blissfully experiencing all the fruits of our chanting, that so much of our spiritual energy is being absorbed by depleted others? This is alright of course, spiritually, for them, but sometimes makes one very world-weary. The devotee is so very outnumbered by the karmis!
We seem to be associating with gross humanity by default, just by sharing the same physical space (this planet) with them every day. Is there a way to ring-fence our energy against this draining experience - or is it simply a case of intensifying our faith and chanting?
Thank you Swami, obeisances to you, Bkta Michael
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Thanks Michael for your pertinent question. It can be understood by the simple example of smoke covering fire. As long as our spiritual fire is small, the smoke of materialistic influence may be able to temporarily cover the spiritual fire now and then and it will feel like the draining of energy. But the spiritual progress we have made by chanting can never be reversed or nullified even by the worst kind of materialistic association. We don't actually loose the spiritual energy we have gained by chanting but it is just momentarily covered. So one should not be disheartened knowing that the spiritual advancement is an eternal principle. One day when our spiritual fire will become big, then the fire will cover the smoke and we will no longer be adversely affected in fact those who come in our contact will be positively uplifted.
The Naam Bhajana or Mantra Meditation on the Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna Mantras does form a protective ring or armour or suit around our souls but till we reach the platform of constant meditative chanting or the stages of nishtha and ruchi i.e. firm irrevocable faith and spontaneous taste, there are some breakages in that ring or suit which allows the bad energy to get to us and temporarily disrupt our advancement in the spiritual energy making us feel drained. But by becoming deeply immersed in the Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna Mantra Meditation daily, we are slowly but surely plugging those gaps in our armour and if we continue with regularity and determination, we can very quickly become totally impregnable from such contaminating influences. So it is a matter of enthusiasm, determination and patience in spiritual life.
I can fully understand that day by day the quality of materialistic association is going from bad to worse. But one cannot avoid it as long as one has to remain in this material world either goshtanandi or bhajananandi. So one should accept it to the extent it is required for fulfilling the basic necessities. Even if one feel drained from spiritual energy, one should try to distribute it to others by giving them the Holy Names always and the Naam will give us our spiritual energy back in no time. The Holy Names can replenish our spiritual energy anywhere and at anytime and to any extent. I want to write more but maybe later.
The Guru Tattva is a cumulation of Nitya-Siddhas, Sadhana-Siddhas and Baddha-Muktas.
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! I understand what has been said here about feeling drained and under attack from the material energy. But to look at that material energy as emanating from other spirit souls might be a trick of maya?
Isnt the material energy that drains us the modes of nature emanating from the Lord and isnt the danger of believing that the drained feeling we may feel is due to other spirit souls, is that we may then see them as the danger forgetting that the real enemy is maya, and may even inadvertently hurt other living entities with such a belief. The illusory energy, isnt coming from jivas is it, but from the Lord, the modes of nature that drain us and sometimes confuse us, but that we have to accept we are in. What to me is draining is to have to fight this constant battle with maya. To get to the bottom of things and the truth of the matter instead of what is just presented to our faulty material eyes and actually see through all that and understand others and understand that we ourselves are not being drained in anyway by them, we are all perfect spirit souls that cant be drained, or damaged, or anything. And our material bodies that get tired and feel drained, need to be looked after properly so that they can run at full steam in service to the Lord. Our bodies feel drained because we are in the modes of nature.
Am I right Swamiji, that it is not spirit souls who drain us, but the modes of nature and that nowhere we go on this planet are we out of that? - Chandrika Gauranga dasi.
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Thank you for your insights Chandrika Gauranga dasi they are very helpful.
My recent realisations are that the material mind is full of duality, and identifying myself with it, can lead to this feeling of being drained as some devotees have expressed. But I am beginning to realise that it is not so much the outside influence of others but more how I choose to take responsibility for what is going on within my own mind that holds the key.
In the town where I live is a New Age shop. Some months ago the owner of the shop employed a so called new age healer to assist people with their spiritual problems. I frequent the shop to look for nice items and incense for my temple room. After several visits I began to over hear stories of how the new age healer would become very drained after encountering people that they would describe as negative energies or drainers.
I was somewhat cautious of this healers insights and qualification, and became a little uncomfortable of how they would talk of some customers as having these negative vibes that would drain them. Ironically the healer has become seriously unwell over the last weeks with a kind of mental breakdown. I feel that the new age healers insights on the subject matter were wrong views and not the spiritual reality. I just felt to share this story and hope it can assist us in some way.
As we grow in deeper levels of self realisation and understand deeper levels of consciousness we begin to not identify so much with the material mind. As we become gradually more self realised, through Naam Yoga , I feel we will be able to glance upon others with the eye of mercy and love and not see them so much as the cause of our suffering. We each have received a particular mind due to our past karma, and by being responsible for this and taking up spiritual practice the mind can become spiritualized and at peace.
I hope that these insignificant insights can be of some assistance to the forum.
y.s. Nava Gauranga dasa
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Yes I found that really helpful and insightful Nava Gauranga dasa.
I am not sure that losing all duality is a good thing. Because without duality there can be no variegation, which would be like being in a kind of impersonal void. Another cause of suffering. If I am misunderstanding what duality is please let me know as I may have some misconception about it I dont know.
If we never distinguish between good and bad and just make decisions based on how we feel at any given time, are we sort of no better than animals? Could there be a place for some duality, as long as we are aware that it isnt how we feel that is important or what we should base our decisions on, but our intelligence and what we know to be true through our own understanding. That if our feelings are in line with what we know to be true then that is the best place to be. Is that the kind of non-duality you speak of?
Sometimes what the real truth is takes a long time to find out, because many people are expert in creating illusions that will attract our minds and senses. Those who dont employ such techniques dont appear very attractive. But to see beyond what people present us with is a difficult thing. I think that maybe most of the places only satisfy my senses, not my soul and nor am I out of the material world in those places, but simply experiencing an illusion being created to satisfy my senses not my soul.
If I didnt retain some awareness of duality in terms of what is to be done and what is not to be done, then I may be tempted to stay stuck somewhere that was only satisfying my senses instead of making any real progress?
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krsna!
I am not so qualified to answer your questions in detail, as my realizations are really very minimal. The points you bring out are in some way what I was referring to in my post. In that, we have to take responsibility for the workings of our minds. Rather than being led by it. In new age circles and also in areas of talking with people associated with the mental health side of things, I have heard often terms like energy drainers. I feel that is not so much our energy being drained by the other person, but I feel more so the suffering of our own mind, being swayed by attachment to, likes or dislikes. This is the duality I was referring to.
Sure some peoples association may be more difficult than others and the material mind will react due to its influence in the modes of nature. This is not false. But what I am trying to bring out is even though suffering may be brought on by a very material or negative person, still the reaction is seated in our material mind. Here lies our responsibility as spirit soul to not be ruled by the swaying mind but to cultivate spiritual practice where we can gradually perceive ourselves as an entity higher than the material mind. And gradually reach a stage of transcendence where we are not swayed or controlled by the dualities of like-dislike, heat-cold, etc.
I hope this has answered your question in some way. But I do beg your mercy, in that I am not really able to go much further into deep philosophy on the nature of the mind etc. and speak with any authority. Spiritual discovery is an eternal ongoing principle for me and I have only really taken a small step on this journey of self realization just recently.
begging to be your servant...Nava.
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! I have found these very interesting quotes from Srila Prabhupada in the Bhagavad Gita As It Is about the sufferings caused by the body and mind.
This quote comes from his introduction to the Bhagavad Gita As It Is and Srila Prabhupada is talking about the cause of miseries. He states,
"The body is also nirananda; instead of being full of bliss it is full of misery. All of the miseries we experience in the material world arise from the body"
I am also posting these quotes from the rest of the Bhagavad Gita that I have gathered whilst reading, that allude to the cause of the suffering of our human bodies. Which have been mentioned elsewhere in the thread and are simply corroborated here:
Suffering caused by living entity :
Nature is said to be the cause of all material activities and effects, whereas the living entity is the cause of the various sufferings and enjoyments in this world.
Suffering due to body identification
Nor does the Supreme Spirit assume anyone's sinful or pious activities. Embodied beings, however, are bewildered because of the ignorance which covers their real knowledge.
Suffering due to forgetfulness of the Lord
11/55 in purport by sp
"A Krsna conscious person knows that if a man is suffering, it is due to his forgetfulness of his eternal relationship with Krsna. Therefore, the highest benefit one can render to human society is relieving one's neighbor from all material problems."
5/25 in purport by sp
The sufferings of humanity are due to forgetfulness of Krsna as the supreme enjoyer, the supreme proprietor, and the supreme friend.
Maya as cause of suffering
5/29 in sp purport
A pure soul is the eternal servant of God as His fragmental part and parcel. He comes into contact with maya (illusion) due to the desire to lord it over maya, and that is the cause of his many sufferings.
Transmigration cause of suffering
2/13 in sp purport
Such changes of body account for varieties of enjoyment or suffering, according to one's work in life.
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!
Do the laws of material nature apply the same to the mind as to the gross body? Does the mind cause suffering when something bad gets in, or it takes a knock, like external things can hurt the material body? I mean in the gross body things dont just happen, but I can see the cause of things in the gross body, whereas in the mind, as it is part of the subtle body, then I wouldnt be able to see anything that might be a danger to it or even harming it in some way.
This opens up the whole possibility that subtle entities without us being able to see them are able to damage the mind and cause us suffering without us being aware even that anything is going on except feeling some suffering.
I have read in sastra that some living entities only have subtle bodies. Can they harm us?
Chandrika Gauranga dasi
Hope this is interesting to everyone.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Answer by Swami Gaurangapada: Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Just like harmful actions harm the body, bad thoughts harm the mind. Just like one knows when one is about to be bodily harmed similarly one can also stop the bad desires in the mind by nipping them in the bud before they can actually harm the mind. Just like in the normal case we get bodily harmed if we allow a person to break into our defense, similarly others can affect our minds only if we willingly allow the harmful thoughts to enter. Bad thoughts can be prevented by loudly chanting Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! When the suffering isnt our own bad desires or thoughts in our own minds that harm us what then? Srila Prabhupada said that the living entity can cause harm and so it can be another living entity that I may have no control over who causes me or someone else some harm.
Is there anyway to avoid that or is it simply that so long as we are in the material world, where there are other jivas who may be envious or have some karmic debt to repay, we wll have to tolerate some degree of suffering, even if we never allow a bad thought to enter our heads?
Can the Holy Names protect us in this instance by giving us the spiritual knowledge that will offer us at least some comfort and courage to be tolerant of the suffering, knowing that everything isnt always caused by ourselves and that one day we may be able to return back home to Godhead where we will all be free of all suffering once and for all?
Chandrika Gauranga dasi
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Yes, meditating on the sound of the Holy Names of Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna daily in the morning is like taking a vaccination or inoculation for all inauspicious things throughout the day. More the dose, more the better and quicker the benefits are seen.