What is the root cause of suffering – Recently entire earthly planet has been shaken up by many unfortunate & disturbing events. Worldwide global pandemic Covid 19 has killed many thousands of people world wide and going to kill many. While everyone is disturbed because of Covid 19, Mother nature is simultaneously sending disturbances in terms of earthquakes, storms, wars, locusts etc. There is suffering everywhere. No one is exempt from this suffering. Naturally any thoughtful person may ask in these times is: “Why all this suffering?” Everyone is looking for happiness but everyone is forced to suffer. Every thoughtful person naturally asks these questions “Why this suffering is forced upon us? “How can we escape from suffering” “What is the root cause of this?”
Srila Prabhupad, the founder Acharya of ISKCON explains in one of the purports of Bhagavad-gita: By nature’s own way the complete system of material activities is a source of perplexity for everyone. In every step there is perplexity. They are like a forest fire that somehow blazes without being set by anyone. Similarly, the world situation is such that perplexities of life automatically appear, without our wanting such confusion.
No one wants fire, and yet it takes place, and we become perplexed. This material world is said to be padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām, dangerous in every step. This material world is not actually a place of residence for an intelligent person because here there is danger at every step. Vedic scriptures informs us that distresses in this world are not accidental. In fact, questioning the purpose of suffering gives oneself the opportunity to inquire about the very purpose of life.
All living entities within this material world are under the influence of threefold miseries: adhidaivika-kleśa (sufferings caused by the demigods, such as droughts, earthquakes and storms), adhibhautika-kleśa (sufferings caused by other living entities like insects or enemies), and adhyātmika-kleśa (sufferings caused by one’s own body and mind, such as mental and physical infirmities). So, living entities are going through different kinds of tribulations from time immemorial. It’s just an illusion to think that recent Covid 19 is troubling everyone. We can understand from above statements that living entities are under constant tribulations. To understand the reason for suffering, we need to understand constitutional position of living entity.
Constitutional position of living entity
Lord Sri Krishna declares in Bhagavad Gita that living entities are His fragmental parts & parcels.
“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind”. [BG 15.7]
Lord Krishna is Absolute Truth. He is svarat, completely independent. As fragmental parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, the living entities also have fragmental portions of His qualities. Since Lord Krishna is completely independent, His fragmental portions also have independence but that is minute. Every living entity, as an individual soul, has minute form of independence. By misuse of that minute independence, living entity becomes conditioned. In his conditioned life he is dominated by the material modes of nature, and he forgets the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
Misuse of free will
When minute living entity misuses his free will, he considers sense gratification as the aim of life. Within this world, the materialistic person lives only for sense gratification and considers this sense gratification as so called happiness. As soon as a person considers sense gratification the aim of life, he certainly becomes mad after materialistic living and engages in all kinds of sinful activity. The four sinful activities explained in https://learngitalivegita.com/blog/yoga-the-way-of-life are illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling. The resultant effect of sinful life is suffering. In short, misuse of free will results in all kinds of sinful activity which leads to suffering.
How to get relief from suffering?
Since the root cause of misery is misuse of free will, the same free will can be used in serving Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa to come out of suffering. As explained above, living entities are fragmental parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord. So, the living entity’s business is to serve the Supreme Lord. Just like a finger, part & parcel of body is to serve the whole body, living entity characteristic is to serve the Supreme Lord. This is called sanātana-dharma which means eternally serving Lord Kṛṣṇa. Sanātana-dharma is the eternal function of the eternal living entities in relationship with the eternal Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa. Refer Bhagavad Gita As it is for more discussion on Sanatana Dharma at /https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/introduction/
Now the question can arise as how we can serve the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa. The same senses which are engaged in sense gratification must be directed towards serving the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa. Out of all the senses, the best way to begin with is to engage tongue in serving the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa by chanting His Holy names –
Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare
Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare
In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, chanting the holy names of the Lord is the only means of deliverance. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.
Misuse of free will is the root cause of misery of living entity. By misuse of his minute free will, living entity engages in sense gratification. Everyone in this material world lives only for sense gratification and considers this sense gratification as so called happiness. But this ultimately results in misery. So, any intelligent person after understanding this engages his senses in the service of Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa. And the best way to engage in the service of Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa is by chanting His Holy names.