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Who is the Cause of My Suffering? Part 1

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
Who to blame?

From a spiritual perspective, this isn’t a very helpful question. While it is true that part of the beginning of spiritual life is to question why there is suffering, looking to only blame others misses one of the most empowering perspectives: taking personal responsibility for our life. (Accepting responsibility for one's suffering [BG 13.21* ] doesn't mean that one considers oneself an independent actor [BG 18.13-14* ], rather a devotee learns to act in this world as a service to Krishna, detached from the fruits of action [BG 5.10, 18.57* ] Even for good psychological health, blaming others or things for our suffering or problems is only a stage of healing (not a place to live forever). Two main types of people seek counseling, those who assume too much responsibility for their life (used to be called neurotics), and those who blame others for their problems, or character disorders. Of the two, neurotics are easier to treat. Without taking responsibility (in a balanced way) for our life and our reactions to what happens to us, we may remain stuck in anger or resentment, or consider ourselves a helpless victim of circumstances.

Those who perceive themselves as victims usually can’t move on, and feel helpless to take actions to improve their lives and help others. While we should feel for the sufferings of others, and help them if possible, we also need to see that there are no accidents in life. Human empathy is important, yet spiritual knowledge is also essential, along with the sensitivity to know how and when to share it. The Universe is full of chains of actions and reactions, visible and invisible, from the macrocosm to the microcosm—all put into motion by consciousness, of God, of higher beings, of us, and all living organisms. Everything is related and only God is independent and above causality.

In the face of a huge calamity or crisis we may think of ourselves or our family members as good people who certainly never did anything to deserve this much suffering. We can only have a broader view when we understand that we are an eternal soul who has lived countless lives, and incurred karma in many unresolved relationships. Even if could prove that our suffering or difficulties was caused by a particular person, group, or country, and legally pursue justice, this still isn’t the whole picture, since any material situation we are in is an effect set in motion long ago. Whether a baby or priest, no one is born innocent, but has a mixed bag of karma to be played out in happiness and distress, success or failure. Since babies are so helpless and cute, they especially illicit our compassion and sadness when they die untimely or are injured or hurt. By not accepting the law of karma, religionists invent all sorts of odd ideas about life and God (like “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”) to make sense of such apparently arbitrary suffering on those who may appear innocent. Or they believe that life is ultimately meaningless and random.

To understand more about why there is suffering and how exalted persons deal with it, we turn to the pages of the great scripture Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1st Canto, chapters 16 and 17. In the life of the pious and powerful King Parikshit, who was the grandson of the heroes of Mahabharata, Arjuna and his four brothers, we hear many helpful conversations and adventures regarding dealing with misery. The time of this scene was the juncture between the previous period (Dvapara-yuga), and current age of Kali. While Emperor Parikshit was traveling all over the country to make sure religious principles were properly being followed, and to curb unlawful behavior, he discovered a lower class man (Kali personified) dressed as a king beating a cow and bull. While all living beings should be given protection in a state, including the animals, in Vedic culture, the cow and bull are especially given deference. The bull signifies the principles of religion, and the cow represents the Earth, and is a total giver, giving liquid religion in the form of milk (and even their dung is useful as fertilizer and fuel).
continued in part 2--you can continue by clicking :
( * cited verses from above: BG 13.21: "Nature is said to be the cause of all material causes and effects, whereas the living entity is the cause of the various sufferings and enjoyments in this world."/BG 18.13-14: "O mighty-armed Arjuna, according to the Vedanta there are five causes for the accomplishment of all action. Now learn of these from Me. The place of action [the body], the performer, the various senses, the many different kinds of endeavor, and ultimately the Supersoul—these are the five factors of action." /BG 5.10: "One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water."/ BG 18.57: "In all activities just depend upon Me and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me." ) Maharaja Parikshit deals with Kali