Three Problems Solved That Should Have Made Us Happier

[Shri Krishna]“One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.66)

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नास्ति बुद्धिर् अयुक्तस्य
न चायुक्तस्य भावना
न चाभावयतः शान्तिर्
अशान्तस्य कुतः सुखम्

nāsti buddhir ayuktasya
na cāyuktasya bhāvanā
na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir
aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham

As the history of the world in recent centuries has involved progress in the way of everyday living, a saying often gets invoked to put the advancements in the proper perspective:

“There is no convenience without an inconvenience.”

You get something new. It is supposed to be superior to the old way. The problem is that there is always something wrong. An unintended consequence, perhaps. The primitive way compelled a certain kind of behavior, which happened to be beneficial. The new way eliminates that requirement; and so that behavior is automatically withdrawn.

सह-जं कर्म कौन्तेय
स-दोषम् अपि न त्यजेत्
सर्वारम्भा हि दोषेण
धूमेनाग्निर् इवावृताः

saha-jaṁ karma kaunteya
sa-doṣam api na tyajet
sarvārambhā hi doṣeṇa
dhūmenāgnir ivāvṛtāḥ

“Every endeavor is covered by some sort of fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work which is born of his nature, O son of Kunti, even if such work is full of fault.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.48)

Shri Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that every occupation has some kind of fault. No work is perfect. I may think life would be easier working in a different department of the company. I have only my experience to go by, where I understand the difficulties.

I fail to see the potential problems in that other occupation. I only realize once I make the shift, and by then it is too late. It would have been better to stay where I was, where the type of work matched my qualities and skills.

As there is always some smoke covering a fire, solutions to everyday problems do not always yield the intended benefit. From the history in America, we see that many significant barriers to happy and healthy living have been eliminated in the modern day.

1. Predicting the weather

We take it for granted today. The five-day forecast. The extended, ten-day prediction. We can even get hour-by-hour details of what the upcoming day will be like. A lot of the time the experts are absolutely correct. How did they know I would need my umbrella only on the way home from work? How could they predict that the summer-like conditions of yesterday would be replaced by the frigid temperatures this morning?

[Washington crossing the Delaware]In times past the ability was not there. In the Revolutionary War in America, General George Washington had to deal with the elements along with the British. He could not predict where there would be snow or if the weather would cooperate with a certain military strategy.

2. Speed in communication

We can stay with the war theme to see the dramatic improvements made. The history books say that Andrew Jackson continued to fight in the War of 1812 weeks after a treaty had ended the war. There was no way for him to know. He was a great distance from the place where the Treaty of Ghent had been signed.

Fast forward to today and there is instant communication. It is so fast that there is the potential for the quick spread of misinformation. Case in point social media users describing an accident involving a famous personality, but getting key details wrong.

3. Vaccines

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada describes four primary miseries in a material existence. One of them is disease. This has been a problem since before anyone can remember. It affects every person at some point in their life. Disease is one of the agents of the all-devouring enemy known as kala, which is time.

In the modern day, we have seen the rapid discovery and use of vaccines. So many deadly diseases are barely found in society anymore; the educated guess is that medical treatment is the cause. Certainly many of the prevalent diseases went away without any vaccines, but the medical community credits the removal of the others to the widespread use of injections, some starting immediately after birth, meant to give protection.

These are just a few of the major advancements to improve the condition of everyday living, but we see that people are still unhappy. There are inconveniences and flaws to these improvements. There is still the problem of hankering and lamenting. There is still the lack of peace, without which a person cannot find happiness.

That peace, shanti, is only available in spiritual life, which is not dependent on progression or regression. This means that whether we are living in a time of the written letter dispatched through cargo ships or the era of rapid information transfer, we have the same opportunity for achieving perfection in life.

[Shri Krishna]Genuine spiritual life is understanding the distinction between body and spirit, learning my true identity, inquiring into the nature of the Almighty, knowing His features, and then voluntarily serving Him in a mood of love. It is an extended process to reach maturation, but everything starts in an instant, with the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Instant video to play,
An important message to say.

From communication quick,
News of cloud-cover thick.

But is anyone happier to be,
Or just the same misery to see?

From spiritual life only relief,
At His lotus feet found peace.

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