“Suffering without knowledge, without remedy, is animal life. One who cannot understand that he is suffering and who thinks that he is very well off is in animal consciousness, not human consciousness. The human being should be cognizant of suffering the threefold miseries of this planet. One should know that he is suffering in birth, suffering in death, suffering in old age and suffering in disease, and one should be inquisitive as to how he may avoid the suffering. That is real research work.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Easy Journey To Other Planets, Ch 2)
“We have all experienced it but don’t remember the ordeal. Nine months inside of the womb. One day you show up on a monitor set up inside the doctor’s office. A few weeks later the same doctor explains that there is a heartbeat. It just appeared out of nowhere.
“That was us. We went through the experience. We could never imagine doing the same today. If I am stuck inside of a closet for too long, I freak out. There is a concept called ‘cabin fever.’ People become uneasy if forced to stay in the same place for too long. Contrary to what fraudulent health experts might say, locking people in their homes for months at a time is the exact opposite of keeping them safe.
“Though parents, friends and relatives rejoice at the successful outcome, the birth process is anything but comfortable. There is suffering throughout. No guarantee that everything will go right. The child undergoes tremendous risk at the final moments. It is not an easy entry into this world.”
2. Old age
“When I was younger, I never wanted to think about old age. Why get depressed? Why not try to be happy throughout the day? I am one of those people who doesn’t watch the videos of horrifying images. If there is a viral news story that shows people latching onto the outside of a departing airplane, plummeting to their deaths a few minutes later, I don’t need to see it.
“Well, old age certainly has changed things. I can’t perform as much physical activity as I used to. I get tired more easily. My joints hurt. My muscles ache. My hair is turning white; whatever hair that is left. Aside from the added maturity, there hasn’t been much benefit to old age.”
“Lately, I have been on a positive streak. Knock on wood, but I haven’t had so much as a cold in several years. I have developed a formula that works for me. No cardio exercise outside of the morning hours. No eating bananas or yogurt on their own; these make the body cold. And no eating sugary treats by themselves; they are okay if consumed in moderation with a standard meal.
“If I ever do feel an illness coming, I bombard the body with heat. There is an ancient herbal tea remedy passed through the generations in my family. I would equate the experience with drinking fire. Anyway, it works. I also take this herbal juice called Giloy. I am not a doctor and I am not advising anyone else, but thus far this stuff has been working for me.
“Anyway, I go to such great lengths because disease is the absolute worst. I can’t stand the suffering of having a viral illness that affects breathing, sleeping, energy levels, and so forth. I know that sometimes it might be better to go through the experience, to develop immunity, but I’d rather forsake the discomfort.
“This is not to speak of the many other diseases that people suffer from. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney failure…my goodness, if you are healthy then you are in an exclusive club. It seems that every person has some kind of major issue. Comorbidity is the scientific term.”
“It’s an ordeal entering this world, and it is no picnic getting out. If you’ve ever witnessed someone dying, it is not a pretty sight. They usually struggle to stay within the body; they don’t want to leave. But they are forced to leave, as we all are. There is nothing that can be done. It is no wonder people try to forget about the incident soon after it takes place.”
As His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains, every person in this world is suffering. It is foolish to think otherwise. Only willful ignorance and intentional blindness would lead to a contrary conclusion.
A wise person researches into the root cause. Not necessarily into how to prevent a specific disease. Today, they boast about so many diseases no longer being prominent, speculating that the reason is the widespread distribution of injections to young children, but there is still plenty of disease. No one has stopped the suffering.
The acharya of the Vedic tradition explains that the root cause of suffering is birth itself. The living entity gets forced to stay a certain way for an extended period of time. They have no choice in the matter.
Or so it may seem. Shri Krishna explains that the person who reaches His abode never has to return, that every other planetary system is like mrityu-loka, or the place of birth and death. To reach that abode is not difficult; simply think of Him while quitting the body.
अन्त-काले च माम् एव
स्मरन् मुक्त्वा कलेवरम्
यः प्रयाति स मद्-भावं
याति नास्त्य् अत्र संशयः
anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
To assure proper consciousness at that most important moment, think of Him always. Live in such a way that you are always conscious of Him. You might just notice that, in the process, your suffering diminishes a little. You might reach the point where it no longer matters to you where to live, since you will always be devoted to the all-attractive one, whose home is the place free of anxieties.
That place of anxieties free,
Blessed His lotus-like face to see.
Where association most pleasing,
Devotion to Him troubles easing.
Otherwise suffering the entire time,
Desperate for temporary relief to find.
But material world this way meant,
Goal return to Vaikuntha sent.
Categories: the four