“The four principal bodily demands – eating, sleeping, mating and defending – can be satisfied under any circumstances, whether one is born in an impious condition or in a pious condition. The problem, however, is how to become free from the four principles of birth, death, old age and disease.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Easy Journey to Other Planets, Ch 2)
An eye-opening teaching presented by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is that everyone in this world is suffering. Not that a grand revelation suddenly came to the great swami; this viewpoint is shared by any person who is armed with the flawless knowledge that is the Vedas. In this material world everyone is suffering, from high to low. From the highest person that is the creator to the tiny little ant, there are problems.
Juxtapose this truth with the common viewpoint that only those in need should be helped, and you get an interesting topic for discussion. The poor, the hungry, the less privileged – it is agreed that they are suffering more. Yet simply based on an external situation, which is temporary at that, we can’t accurately say that one person is inherently better off than another. As an example, a person can be wealthy but still suffer from seasonal allergies. The itching they feel in their eyes during the spring is the same as what is felt in a person not so well off. The satisfaction from hunger is the same in all people. Indeed, it is true with the animals as well. The dog sleeps on the floor, while the more intelligent human being sleeps on a mattress. But sleep is still sleep.
At the core each individual is a spirit soul. Trapped inside of a material covering, they are subject to the threefold miseries coming from within, nature, and other living entities. These miseries attack everyone; there is no prejudice. Randy was explaining this to his friend one day. His friend was a little skeptical, as he thought it was silly to think that rich people needed any help. He didn’t understand why the work of the devotees of God shouldn’t be focused first on the less fortunate. Randy relayed a recent story from his own life to help get his point across.
I finally upgraded my phone. I use the one given to me by work, since it is easier to carry around only one phone. It is a smartphone; the most popular selling one. Actually, it might not have the highest sales numbers anymore, but it is the one that seemingly everyone uses. Anyway, it was time for a change. Some of the buttons were no longer working, and I wanted to use the new feature of the fingerprint reader.
So work approves the upgrade, and I get my new phone. The first thing I noticed was that the software was different. I hadn’t upgraded the software on my old phone precisely because certain things stop working when you update. It gets really annoying, so I intentionally held off. I had no choice with the new phone. The current software was already installed on their.
The most annoying thing about the new phone is that the stock music player app is much more difficult to use. The company that makes this phone got put on the map precisely because of a device they made for playing music. Now it looks like it’s not that important to them. In the updated app, the icons are way bigger, and all the songs are listed for the artist instead of grouped by album. My daily music listening habits were broken as a result. I got so frustrated one day that I punched my hand into a wall. It was a stupid move, one in the mode of ignorance. Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that unsatisfied lust turns into anger, which then eventually leads to loss of intelligence. I experienced firsthand that He is right.
krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ
“From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.63)
I went online looking for alternative apps. In my research I found this one blog post where a person was complaining about the exact same issue. I then read the comments to see if other people agreed with him. One of the comments said, “First world problem.” That got me to thinking. Obviously a problem with a music app on a smartphone is nothing compared to someone who doesn’t know where their next meal is going to come from. It’s a stupid thing to get angry over. A little perspective would have helped me in this situation.
Yet the pain in my hand was real. The frustration I felt was not fake. I realized that it doesn’t matter where the pain comes from, since the experience is the same. You see people who have it all take to suicide. We can’t understand why they would do it, but the suffering they were going through must have been real. This means that the suffering must be the same in all living entities, regardless of what they look like, what their religion is, or how much money they have in the bank.
It is for this reason that the most valuable knowledge of the science of self-realization is disseminated to everyone. Shri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the detail behind the abstract. He is God the person, the person everyone should know. Knowing Him means knowing yourself. If you know yourself, you know why you are suffering. Better still, you can do something about it. You can escape that suffering, whether you live in the first world or the third. You can find the light of transcendence through Krishna and His mercy. He makes Himself easily available to any and all through the sound that represents Him: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Old phone time now to upgrade,
But of features changing afraid.
From that frustration to mount,
Though first world, pain same amount.
For this reason bhakti spread to all,
Each person best friend Krishna to call.
Whether high or low in this life perfect,
From knowing Lord own identity detect.