Is the World full of Sufferings?

Is the World full of Sufferings? – It is very bewildering to think of a higher power being very merciful when so many people are suffering right in front of our eyes. Why are so many people suffering due to poverty, hunger, illness, and so many other pains in this world? How can the Supreme claim to be merciful and let the living entities suffer endlessly? Thinking along these lines, many people claim that there is no Supreme because if He did exist, He would not inflict such sufferings on the people. This is a very limited understanding with which we observe the world because we do not consider the actions of the victims but only the suffering they are going through

Understanding the Laws of God

Certainly God is merciful, He is more merciful than any human even has the ability to accept that mercy. However, if we continue to break the laws enjoined by God, we cannot expect that such criminals will not be punished. These sufferings are therefore due to the lack of knowledge and therefore the only way to stop the sufferings of humanity are through the real knowledge of the laws of God.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Even in the worst of situations, there is always a silver lining. It is our common observation that although an adverse situation seems extremely troubling and intolerable in the moment, in retrospect we always have something we learn from such bitter experiences. We see that although we are well educated in our schools and colleges, we hardly ever get the knowledge on how to deal with the problems of our life. We often get bogged down into depression not knowing how to deal with an adverse situation and end up affecting other areas of our life as well. Chanakya Pandit says there are 3 ways of learning the lessons of life:

  1. a wise man is one who learns from others’ experiences,
  2. a smart man learns from his own experiences, and
  3. a fool makes the same mistakes again and again and never learns.

Therefore, the only way we learn about is through experiences, either our own or those of others. However, we often fail to understand that the problems we face in our lives are often very common in society. Therefore, it is foolish to assume that the only way to learn is through experience. Historically, people would have suffered a similar situation and they would have documented their learnings. Why should we always seek out experiences which others would have experienced since the existence of humanity? Why don’t we look for other sources to get the invaluable lessons of life?

Struggle for existence

Apart from adversities, we often live our lives constantly stressed over our work, family etc, now more so than ever. Why do we struggle so hard? If we analyse the daily routine of a common man, we can see that everyone is living a similar life. A major part of the day is spent in working, some in eating, some in maintenance of the body and rest for entertainment in the form of sex, watching movies, and other forms of sense gratification. Not only are the pleasures we derive from such activities short-lived, but also they bring along with them a lot of suffering.

For example, the pleasure derived from sex is short lived but the off spring born as a result of such pleasure, is a source of great misery. Of course one may say that the child is a source of joy for the family, however, the amount of joy the parents get from the child is so short-lived and so little when compared with the effort it takes to maintain the child. Parents often stay up all night in order to take care of a crying baby. Parents also have to work so hard to provide for the child, for his education etc, especially when the cost of education is continuously rising.

Even though one may consider these struggles as necessary to maintain a child and someone may even not feel that these are a struggle, what is the guarantee that the child will take care of the parents when the parents are old and unable to do things on their own? We have seen in the recent past, especially in India, that many children abandon their parents and go off to foriegn lands for higher education, work etc and completely disregard their parents. In such cases, isn’t the child only an imagination for the parents, only a mental concoction?

Why are we then struggling so hard? Because we are in the Material consciousness, that is, we are falsely identifying with the body as the self and are thereby continuing to struggle endlessly for small pleasures derived from these bodily relationships. In the material consciousness, we are contaminated with 6 kinds of anarthas: lust, greed, anger, pride, envy and illusion. Everyone who is on the material platform of life will have at least some degree of these anarthas. Needless to say all of these bring us more and more pain and we get stuck in the cycle of repeated pain and pleasure. The only way to rid ourselves of these anarthas is to elevate our consciousness and to discover our real identity. The Bhagavad Gita talks of various ways in which one can realise their true nature of being sat-cit-ananda (eternally full of knowledge and bliss). Unless one wants to rid oneself from this repeated cycle of pain and pleasure, to understand our true nature is impossible.

Does being in divine consciousness mean we will not have bad experiences in life?

mām upetya punar janma
duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam
nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ
saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ

Translation: “After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogīs in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.” (Bg. 8.15)

Is the World full of Sufferings?

Lord Krishna states in the Bhagavad gita that this world is temporary and full of miseries. Therefore, even if one comes on the platform of divine consciousness the miseries of this world will attack us nonetheless because that is the nature of this world. However, when someone in the material consciousness gets bewildered because of adversities, a spiritually advanced person understands that these adversities are a part of life in this material world and therefore does not get affected by such changes. An example can be taken of that of a comparison between a boat and a ship. A small boat, when it tries to travel in the turbulent waves of an ocean, will certainly break under the pressure. However, a ship has the stability to steer safely over the turbulence of the ocean. Thus, the turbulent waves of this material world will be encountered by everyone, however a person in the material consciousness will break under the pressure similar to a boat but a spiritually elevated person will have the stability to handle all the changes. 

Bhagavad Gita