Monday Morning Greetings 2020 #20 – Why I Hate Clichés and Thoughts About Pain

May 18th, 2020

Corona, Karuna is a great pun for someone who accepts theistic philosophy, for within the challenges of destiny even something as pernicious as a devastating pandemic (Corona), there is also God’s mercy (karuna). The problem is that the pun is so obvious that it quickly became overused. When originality is lost, the innate beauty of a pun is also sacrificed, which is the creativity that stirs one’s thoughts, activates one’s intelligence, and thus drives home a point more deeply. In other words, it became a cliché.


Where I am going here? I have no specific realization to write about this week, so I am doing what I always do when this happens. I just put my fingers to the keyboard and see what comes. I have spoken about this technique before. There seems to be a magical connection between moving your fingers to write and activating a part of the brain that generates ideas to write about. Well, so far this is what I came up with this week—I said something about clichés that morphed into a discussion of writing. It worked. A topic came. Here’s how:


I was a little tired after my initial writing exercise so before continuing I got up from my desk for a little exercise break. Immediately afterwards, I relaxed on my back listening to a lecture from Śrīla Prabhupāda. I heard him say this:


We can’t even understand the creation, so how is it possible to understand the creator?  We therefore worship the residents of Vṛndāvana who do not know Krishna. They simply love Krishna.”


I really liked what Śrīla Prabhupāda said, but what struck me more than what he said was the conviction with which he said it. It actually it took me off-guard. A thought spontaneously arose, “This is the voice of the soul.” It made me acknowledge my paltry conviction in comparison to what I had just heard. Feeling exposed is painful. It bruises the ego. I felt it, but there was also some sweetness. Humility opens the heart to devotion. A topic finally came.


“The Mercy of Pain”


I am not sadomasochistic when I say this, but pain is not the problem, the cause of it is. Pain, in fact, has a noble purpose. It is the natural mechanism to indicate that something is wrong. Without pain our problems would go unnoticed and ravage us much more than the pain itself.  One form of pain is internal dissatisfaction. Without that internal sense of discontent, we would never understand that something is wrong and make the effort to go beyond our present level of advancement.


Krishna never lets a sincere practitioner of spiritual life rest on his laurels. Even when there is some success, the same effort that produced that taste in devotion is often met with an undercurrent of dissatisfaction just to force us to deepen our practices and realizations. There is room for just one example:


After Vyāsadeva completed his editing of the Vedas, which included the composition of the Mahābhārata and the Vedānta-sūtras, he still felt dissatisfied, which forced him to search his consciousness for what he did wrong. He realized he hadn’t sufficiently glorified Krishna. Without that dissatisfaction he would have never had the impetus to go further in his service to compile the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.


That’s the message I got today—embrace dissatisfaction in the heart as an indication sent by God that there is something wrong and use it as an impetus to increase our effort in spiritual life.


As I began the class with an analysis of a clichéd pun, let me try to offer an original one to highlight today’s topic:


Just as mercy (karuna) accompanies pain (Corona), similarly realization and understanding (vidyā) should also be mutual or “co” with our dissatisfaction or pain (Corona). Can we not also call our present crisis “Covidyā-19”?


I hate clichés. Worse than that, my own horrible pun.



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