Hello and welcome to episode 44 of the Ask Sri Vishwanath Show. Today I want to talk about suffering. Why do human beings suffer? Why do we get things so wrong?
Today’s question comes from Joe who lives in Malaysia. Joe says “I’m married, I have two kids and a great job that I love but I don’t feel happy. I always feel like I am seeking something. What am I doing wrong?”
Thanks for the question. This situation reminds me of the quote “everything to live with but nothing to live for.”
I want to tell you a story involving Ram Krishna Paramhansa. It will help to throw light on your situation.
There was a woman who was preparing a hot crispy lentil meal. It would be like a mac and cheese for those of you in America. A crow was studying a woman while she was cooking. As soon as the woman turned her back the crow flew down and took two pieces in its beak and flew away. As the crow flew away he was spotted by other crows who started to chase him to try and steal his food. The chase continued for hours from tree to tree. By the end the crow was exhausted and wondered what he should do. All he wanted was to eat the food in his beak without being tormented.
Eventually he let the food drop to the ground so the others could get it. He then flew away to another branch so he could finally rest. Only hours before he would have done anything for his meal but now he was happy to give it up.
We can apply this story to our own lives. We spend a lot of our lives striving for something but then when we finally get it we can’t enjoy it.
Krishna says we come here to taste happiness. We want to chase the happiness within our consciousness but we end up chasing things and being conquered by our body, mind and intellect.
We are all like that crow. We all carry something with us that burdens us. It may seem tasty at first but it ends up being more trouble than it’s worth. If we left these things behind we would actually be happier.
Think of attachment. Think of when you first met your wife. At first you probably felt free because you had no attachments. Then when you get married everything changes. You have responsibilities and duties and sometimes the things you once loved can become a burden just like the crow with the food.
It’s important to take a step back because we can sometimes lose perspective. Like the crow who dropped the food we need to drop our attitudes. Drop the attachment of constantly seeking and wanting to change others. Even try dropping it by half and you will see great results.
Now think of property. I’ll give you an example. I rented a property for 5 years and I was so happy to have a space of my own and then I had the opportunity to buy it and when I did I encountered so many problems. I should have just been happy with what I had.
Once you buy something you think “OK its mine now” and you form an attachment. Whereas when it’s rented you can give it up at any time so you retain that sense of freedom and detachment. Step back and look at why things are happening around you. Maybe you are trying to form too many attachments?
Vivekananda say in a poem “Truth never exists where lust and fame and greed of gain resides. No man who thinks of a woman as his wife can ever perfect be. Nor he who owns the least of things, nor he whom anger chains can pass through Mayas gates, Then off with them O Sanyassin bold say OM TAT SAT OM
The attitude of ownership is what causes attachment so do whatever it takes to free yourself. Changes your lifestyle and remember to have the attitude of “rent, don’t buy.” Know you are suffering because of that attachments.
Think of a car. When we rent one, yes we take care of it but we don’t obsess over every mark and dent like we do when we buy it. It is silly to obsess over such things. Think of things in your life as being rented and not owned. Ownership is the root of suffering.
Now think of wealth. Remember when you were a child. You had no money. You didn’t care about money and you felt so free. Now as an adult we have money and we still spend so much time worrying about it.
If you can bring even slight changes towards your attachment to people and objects like your house and car and money then you will be so much happier.
What about power? Again when you were a child you were taken care of. You didn’t have to worry about anything because you had someone else to look after you. Now you have others to think about. Your company or your wife or children. Now you are responsible for them. All this causes an attachment to power.
Pleasure also causes attachment. When you were young boys played with boys and girls and it was nothing more than play and happiness. Then attraction comes along and gets in the way. That attraction can certainly cause suffering!
When we were young we were free and had no worries. We didn’t care about ownership or wealth all we cared about was being happy.
All these attachments can also cause anger. Look back to your childhood photos. You will probably only see smiling faces. You were so happy because you had no attachments which caused this anger.
So remember the story of the crow and then look at your life. Take a step back and see what you can let go of. Stop seeking and constantly trying to gain ownership of things.
Remember we cannot take any of these material things with us. Nature will always come sweeping down to take them from us. To stop nature from taking we must learn to give.
When we are gone all these material things will mean nothing so be happy with what you have and don’t try and burden yourself with more and more attachments. There is no point. We can’t take them with us.
Krishna says “The undiscriminating and the witless one with no real yearning for the soul is never peaceful and is never happy. The roving mind conforming to the senses robs one of perception as the wind blows the boat of its course. He wins peace in whose mind enters object of desires as river water enters into a full and stable ocean waiting to be filled”
I hope I answered your question. Remember you keep asking questions and I’ll keep answering them.