Who is the Cause of My Suffering? Part 2
(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
[continued from part 1] In this wisdom story, the bull and cow were fully conscious beings, representing Dharma (religion personified) and the personality of the Earth, to teach us valuable lessons about the real principles of religion, and how they are maintained and lost. Thus the king, who was a pure devotee of the Lord, was able to converse with them. Upon stopping Kali from beating and injuring the bull, he began an instructive discussion with the personality of religion, or Dharma the bull. After telling the cow and bull that as long as he was king, they need not fear further mistreatment, he spoke to the personified Earth, and then inquired from Dharma:
“O chaste one [the cow], the king's good name, duration of life and good rebirth vanish when all kinds of living beings are terrified by miscreants in his kingdom. It is certainly the prime duty of the king to subdue first the sufferings of those who suffer. Therefore I must kill this most wretched man [Kali] because he is violent against other living beings.
“He [Maharaja Parikshit] repeatedly addressed and questioned the bull thus: O son of Surabhi, who has cut off your three legs [representing mercy, austerity and charity—only the last leg for truthfulness remained]? In the state of the kings who are obedient to the laws of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, there is no one as unhappy as you.
“O bull, you are offenseless and thoroughly honest; therefore I wish all good to you. Please tell me of the perpetrator of these mutilations, which blackmail the reputation of the sons of Pritha [the Pandavas]. Whoever causes offenseless living beings to suffer must fear me anywhere and everywhere in the world. By curbing dishonest miscreants, one automatically benefits the offenseless.
“An upstart living being who commits offenses by torturing those who are offenseless shall be directly uprooted by me, even though he be a denizen of heaven with armor and decorations. The supreme duty of the ruling king is to give all protection to law-abiding persons and to chastise those who stray from the ordinances of the scriptures in ordinary times, when there is no emergency.”
Now we will hear the interesting response which teaches us about the difficulty in really ascertaining the cause of our suffering. On the surface, Kali was directly responsible for beating the cow and bull—and caught red handed—but here, the personality of religion wants to teach us about spiritual philosophy and the laws of karma, as well as how many are confused in understanding that God is behind the laws of the Universe, and is the supreme cause of all cause, yet always aloof and pure.
“The personality of religion said: ‘These words just spoken by you befit a person of the Pandava dynasty. Captivated by the devotional qualities of the Pandavas, even Lord Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, performed duties as a messenger. O greatest among human beings, it is very difficult to ascertain the particular miscreant who has caused our sufferings, because we are bewildered by all the different opinions of theoretical philosophers.
“’Some of the philosophers, who deny all sorts of duality, declare that one's own self is responsible for his personal happiness and distress. Others say that superhuman powers are responsible, while yet others say that activity is responsible, and the gross materialists maintain that nature is the ultimate cause. There are also some thinkers who believe that no one can ascertain the cause of distress by argumentation, nor know it by imagination, nor express it by words. O sage amongst kings, judge for yourself by thinking over all this with your own intelligence.’” [Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.17.10-20
Much could be said about the many different theories as to cause and effect, and the cause of our suffering. As we are out of time, let me say that while the cow, the personality of the Earth, and the bull, the personality of religion, both knew that Kali was the cause of their suffering, as devotees of the Lord, they also knew that without the sanction of the Lord no one could cause them pain and difficulty. While this may be hard to swallow, there is no real injustice or accidents. I am not saying that those who are abused or injured should not take legal appropriate action, yet to be able be peaceful and see from a higher spiritual perspective, one will be helped by seeing one's karma in action. From another angle of vision if we see suffering in the world we shouldn't just be callous to others pain or calamities (labeling it tough karma). We may be called toward activism in various social, or political arenas to improve the world, yet at the same time we need to keep a large philosophical perspective about the hidden cause of suffering of others and ourselves, and the Supreme Spiritual Cause of all causes, Shri Krishna. People seriously involved in their spiritual improvement are good for the world's peace and prosperity.
This is a sensitive subject if you have personally faced terrible abuse, war crimes, or so many terrible atrocities in the world going on between individual or groups. We have to balance our humanity and spirituality. In recent memory I am reminded of Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for so many years only due to his opposing an unjust racial system, and yet when he was released, he didn't seek retribution. While we may not be on that level of forgiveness yet, his and other people's example is there, as well as instructive scriptural narrations as shared above. Ideally we will live in the world as compassionate, thoughtful people with an understanding of karma and the purpose of life. We may be active in the world as Maharjaja Parikshit was, or lead a more secluded contemplative life, but anyone involved in bhakti has to be endeavoring to remember and serve Krishna in love, since this is the real cause of happiness, and the end to our suffering, and the suffering of the world. Karma is only the middle of the equation and not the cause our suffering in the ultimate sense. The real cause of suffering is being in the material world, covered by temporary physical bodies with biological desires, in total forgetfulness of our Source, or more closely named in bhakti, the true love of our life, Shri Krishna.