Suffering, but we can cultivate a purpose that makes suffering bearable and meaningful

Consider soldiers fighting to free their country from tyrannical invaders. They are ready to sustain wounds because the war is deeply meaningful for them: it is the price for their motherland’s liberty.

If those soldiers are simply trying to avoid their opponents’ arrows, they can’t win the war. Similarly, if we are trying only to avoid problems, we can’t do anything worthwhile. Even if those soldiers can dodge the attacking arrows, we can’t dodge life’s sufferings. Why not? Because sufferings such as old age, disease, and death are unavoidable (Bhagavad-gita 13.09).

To persevere in the war that is life, we need a deeply meaningful purpose. Gita wisdom reveals such a purpose. It explains that we are souls on a multi-life journey of spiritual evolution. We are meant to evolve in wisdom and love till we wholeheartedly devote ourselves to the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna. By such devotion, we win the war against the world’s illusions, break free from the constraints of matter and relish eternal love for Krishna. To further our spiritual evolution is the ultimate purpose of everything that happens in life. Distresses stimulate such evolution by impelling us to redirect our consciousness from the world to Krishna.

How spiritual purpose empowers is demonstrated in the Gita itself. Arjuna was loath to fight an unbearably painful war. But when the Gita revealed how his fighting that war would further everyone’s spiritual evolution, his as well as that of those opposing him, he became ready to fight for fulfilling life’s ultimate purpose (18.73).

If we accept spiritual evolution as our life’s purpose and strive to spiritualize our consciousness, we start becoming purer, wiser, stronger and happier. When we are thus empowered by sublime purpose, our suffering becomes bearable and our life, meaningful.

Think it over:

  • Explain with example how purpose makes suffering bearable.
  • How did a sublime purpose make Arjuna’s suffering bearable?
  • What are the sufferings confronting you? How can focusing on spiritual purpose make them bearable?

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