“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)
मात्रा-स्पर्शास् तु कौन्तेय
तांस् तितिक्षस्व भारत
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya
tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata
1. The transition to cold in autumn
“Some people like seeing what is described as fall foliage. The leaves turn different colors. Not that each leaf is unique, it is that they die at their own rate. Therefore, the colors on a single tree will not be uniform at a specific time. You would notice the same with regrowth later on, if you paid attention.
“At first it seems like autumn is nice. No more scorching heat from the summer. Less humidity. The problem is that the daylight hours decrease. The sun sets at an earlier time. In addition, where I live there is a steady period of rain at some point. You will go almost a week straight without seeing the sun.
“It is difficult to put into words, but because of this rain and cloud cover you feel colder than you would on a typical winter day. Something about the sudden change in weather makes you want to blast the heat. It is not an enjoyable experience.”
2. The bitter cold of winter
“I personally refer to it as the season of ice. It is not just colder temperatures. I think any person could handle that. It is not only a few months of bare branches on the trees and nothing growing in the garden. It is not just dealing with snowfall every now and then.
“Rather, if you stepped outside and remained there for too long, you would die. Seriously. If a toddler accidentally got out of the house and couldn’t find their way back in, you have a big problem on your hands.
“Nothing about the snowfall is typical, either. I remember one year there was a blizzard that dropped feet of snow. This was immediately followed by severe cold. The snow basically turned to ice immediately. To go through the parking lot of the nearby supermarket was to drive through a tunnel, with these huge walls of snow surrounding you. That snow didn’t melt for months.”
3. The hay fever of spring
“Everyone is supposed to be happy. Finally, the cold went away. It will not return for many months. Time to enjoy everything that nature has to offer. The trees will have leaves again, and the grass will grow on its own. The sun will be prominent in the sky.
“The problem is I have allergies. I will never forget my first day in the workforce, as an adult. Let’s just say my career did not get off to an auspicious start. While sitting at my desk in the office, I could not stop sneezing. The entire day, from beginning to end. My eyes were so watery that I could barely read what was on the computer screen.
“Fortunately, there is a temporary remedy. Take medication to decrease histamine in the body, but the accompanying side effects are severe. It is like you are totally asleep throughout the day. The heat inside the body from the allergies makes it feel like the hottest summer day. The itchy eyes, the difficulty sleeping – this is by far the worst season God invented.”
4. The humidity of summer
“This is always the most anticipated season, but that is an illusion. I think that summer will be better, since the allergies will subside. No shoveling snow and no concern that certain events will be cancelled because of a storm that disrupts travel. Granted, that does take place with thunderstorms and flights, but at least you can drive through most rainfall.
“Of course those thunderstorms are there for a reason. The increased humidity is ridiculous. For a large part of the summer it feels as if you are living inside of an enclosed shower. There is no escape unless you have air conditioning. Even with such an amenity, sitting inside for that long with the artificially conditioned air does not feel right.
“Summer can be downright unbearable in some parts of the world, as it is difficult to breathe properly with the extreme temperatures. There is the desperate hope that time will pass quickly, that everything will cool down in the subsequent season.”
In this way, we see there is good and bad throughout the year. Shri Krishna compares happiness and distress to the summer and winter seasons. There is nothing we can do about nature in this regard. To try to stop the changing of seasons is as foolish as thinking man can intentionally alter the climate.
Happiness and sadness will arrive on their own, as if on schedule, but the life in maya is full of misery. Maya is the illusory energy which suppresses the natural inclination towards the Almighty and service to Him. Krishna is never affected by maya, but our perception of Him is, or lack thereof.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead advises that we tolerate the ups and downs of life and remain dedicated to our duty. To push forward in dharma is to show dedication to the principles passed down for our benefit. The highest of those principles, the single dharma for all of humanity, is to serve the Supreme Lord in a mood of love and devotion.
Arjuna followed that dharma through firing arrows on a battlefield in a war, and we can follow the splendid example through simply repeating a mantra and meditating on the kindness of Bhagavan: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Summer heat too much to bear,
In autumn rain sun never there.
In winter season to freeze,
Spring to coughing and to wheeze.
Nature this way attacking,
Peace and tranquility lacking.
Wise advise to push forward and tolerate,
At same time on Krishna to concentrate.
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