Monday Morning Greetings 2020 #25 – More Thoughts About Pain

June 22nd, 2020

I wrote about this subject a month ago. This time it’s different. In that article I wrote theoretically about pain in relationship to the pandemic in terms of how pain, or reversals in life, are not bad, but are rather the indication that something is wrong and how it is mercy. However, this time it is personal. I’m actually in pain.


It started about nine days ago. My left thigh became sore and became progressively worse until I couldn’t find a comfortable position to sleep at night. The pain then spread to my other thigh and then my upper arms and neck, which made it even worse. Now my whole schedule has been thrown off.


I think I am beginning to understand the purpose of all this. I had just finished almost three months hunkered down in New Jersey. I described this before as a blissful “boring” life. All my needs were perfectly being met, and I was able to do the same thing at the same time every day. I would rest very early, rise just after midnight, and regulate my day mostly around chanting and hearing until evening. As I look back at those months, there wasn’t a minute in my day that I would want to change, but in retrospect there was something in my thinking that needed to be adjusted to deepen my practices further.


An ordinary person’s goal in life is to enjoy the world, which naturally entails trying to control it. That, in a nutshell, is material consciousness. Of course, I regulated myself during the pandemic for the purpose of focusing on the holy name, a type of control that is naturally a good thing. But to the extent one’s effort fosters a sense of “doership” and control, one’s practices will lose the full sense of dependency and humility foundational to bhakti and become mechanical. This subtle type of tether to material consciousness is described in the commentary to Nārada’s failure to attain perfection despite his notable efforts.


“There is no mechanical process to see the form of the Lord. It completely depends on the causeless mercy of the Lord […] When He pleases, being satisfied with the sincere attempt of devotional service depending completely on the mercy of the Lord [emphasis mine], then He may be seen out of His own accord.” (Bhag. 1.6.19, Purport)


So, I see this karmic episode of discomfort and pain that has torpedoed my regulation and practices as just a reset. I hope to soon begin again with a greater vigilance, so that in regulating my life it doesn’t engender the misconception that I can control or earn Krishna’s mercy, a thinking that covers the sense of dependence necessary to actually attract the Lord’s mercy. I guess Krishna doesn’t want me in any way, shape, or form to maintain a sense of trying to control and enjoy if I want to deepen my internal life.


I started seeing a chiropractor a few days ago. I can sleep now, but, so far, the discomfort during the day hasn’t abated. Two more realizations came today about the internal components of spiritual life that this experience is giving me. I am practically never ill, in pain, or without full energy. As one tends to see the world through the lens of their own experience, it is harder for me to fully empathize with those in physical pain. There is a component here of increasing my empathy that I see as essential for deepening my spiritual life. Also, taken in the right way, pain can foster detachment for material enjoyment and serve as an impetus to increase one’s determination to realize the self.


Sorry to talk so much about myself, but I have no other choice in Monday Morning Greetings than to write unabashedly what is on my mind, and this is it. I shouldn’t actually complain. I know many who live with worse discomfort all the time and rarely talk about it. It is just that I am not use to this, so I take it hard. It is not so bad, and the gifts of essential realization are worth the pain. I’m grateful.



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