Is our existence a problem, and why not?




Our existence is a problem because we die. Nobody wants to die, but nature forces us. Unless and until we realize our eternal nature as souls together with Krishna, we will have to go through the painful process of dying, again and again.


Srila Prabhupada has continually pointed out that the real problems of existence are birth, disease, old age, and death. Most people dismiss these problems, saying - well there is nothing we an do about it, anyway, so why worry about it? Better to just live your life and get the best out of it.


The fact is, however, that the human life-form offers a unique opportunity for the soul to solve these existential problems. How? First of all by realizing we don’t belong in the material world, and then accepting God’s solution - to get out of the material world and return home, back home to Godhead.


After a long time living in the material world, you begin to understand that you don't belong here. As you become older in this life you realize that without exception everything turns into misery, sorrow and frustration. Even if you are enjoying to the max, disease, old age and death always get you in the end.


This would be a depressing realization if there were no positive alternative. But there is. When you add Krishna to your life and begin practicing devotion to Him, all this other stuff - family, friends, society, all your loved ones become as significant as the autumn leaves rattling in the wind, for the security and bliss you discover in Krishna's service makes everything else pale in comparison.


-- but, but, that's being defeatist and irresponsible, I hear someone object.


On the contrary, it is defeatist and irresponsible to surrender to disease, old age and death. To explain it away by saying, there is nothing you can do about it anyway, when God Himself tells you that you can get out of the ocean of birth and death - now THAT's defeatist and irresponsible.


It is defeatist because you surrender to nature's powers, and it is irresponsible, because the sole prerogative of the human life-form is for the soul to get out of samsara - the endless cycle of birth and death. To not take advantage of that rare opportunity is irresponsible.


--but, but who will take care of the family, if everyone just goes off, dresses in sheets and chants mantras?


Family? First of all, one doesn't exclude the other. To practice devotion to Krishna does not mean you can't take care of your family. Rather, you can take better care, it's just not the ultimate goal in life anymore. And secondly, everyone in the material world takes care of their family. Ants, cockroaches, cats and dogs and cows take care of their families. Family is being taken care of in any life-form. In the modern culture, it is being hailed as some noble, unassailable, holy principle - the ultimate goal in life you must stick to, no matter what. Family is God.


The fact is, though, that if humans are just another life-form that popped out of evolution, there is nothing more noble or exquisite about a mother strolling her infant down 5th Avenue in a pushchair, than an ant carrying an egg home to its nest.


Therefore Krishna says:


Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth. (Bg. 4.34)


Having obtained real knowledge from a self-realized soul, you will never fall again into such illusion, for by this knowledge you will see that all living beings are but part of the Supreme, or, in other words, that they are Mine. (Bg.4.35)


Even if you are considered to be the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge you will be able to cross over the ocean of miseries. (Bg. 4.36)


As a blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities. (Bg. 4.37)


In this world, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge. Such knowledge is the mature fruit of all mysticism. And one who has become accomplished in the practice of devotional service enjoys this knowledge within himself in due course of time. (Bg. 4.38)


A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge, and having achieved it he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace. (Bg. 4.39)


But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness; they fall down. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next. (Bg. 4.40)

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