|Vedanta Spiritual Library|
Unit - 03
Lesson - 0301: An Overview of the Universal Problem
By Raja Subramaniyan
Arjuna was shattered due to the overwhelming sorrow. After hearing his problem, if Lord Krishna had given a solution to his specific problem then Gita will not be relevant to us today.
All of us face various problems of varying degrees of importance. Whenever we confide our problem to our close friends and associates, we do receive suggestions to overcome our problem. Such suggestions or solutions may be valid for that specific situation and cannot be used to solve all our problems at all times nor can some one else be benefited by that solution.
Lord Krishna helped Arjuna to solve his problem by giving a solution that is relevant and applicable to all human beings at all times. In order to appreciate such a solution, we need to understand the universal problem.
Understanding the Universal Problem:
Step 1: Location of the problem
We need to understand that all our problems are located in our mind. There are no problems in the world.
Example: Poverty is a problem of the mind!
Proof: What will happen if we do not get food to eat? Our body will report that we are hungry. After a prolonged period of abstinence of food, body will stop reporting that we are hungry. Within a few weeks we will die. We do not want to die. Where does the problem lie? The problem lies only in our mind. In the earlier example of two goats in the mutton-shop, the goat that is still alive does not worry about its imminent death. For human beings, it is a great problem!
It is impossible to have any problem that lies outside our mind.
Step 2: Nature of the problem
All the problems in our life are represented by negative emotions such as:
Step 3:Status of the problem
We do not enjoy having such negative emotions. If we have such emotions, we suffer. We call this suffering as our problem. Even if we do not have these negative emotions, during any given period in our life, it cannot be said we are not suffering. Like a dormant disease, which has not yet manifested, the possibility of suffering by such negative emotions, exist in all of us all the time. When we encounter a situation that is not in line with our expectations, then such negative emotions are manifested.
Thus, the problem is always present. Either it is manifested (as suffering) or it is in the dormant state (possibility of suffering).
Step 4: Cause of the problem
While the problem is within our mind, the cause of the problem lies outside in the form of situations, people, objects etc.
Example: He cheated me. (This is the cause of the problem).
I hate him. (This is the problem.)
I suffer because there is a negative emotion called hatred in my mind caused by the fact that someone has cheated me.
Thus, the cause of the problem is external (in the world) and the problem is internal (in the mind).
Step 5: Multiple causes but single problem
The cause of the problem varies from person to person and from time to time but the problem is universal.
Everyone in the world (except those who have learnt the ultimate solution revealed in the Gita) is suffering ALL the time. It is very important to understand this step. It may appear that many people are enjoying life most of the time and only few appear to suffer occasionally. It is not true. Every human being in the world suffers all the time as proved by the following statements:
1. Everyone has a feeling of incompleteness as evidenced by the presence of a goal in life. If one is completely happy, then there is no need to have a goal.
2. Everyone is working towards becoming happy as shown by the actions. A beggar is begging for the next meal and the king is working to increase the wealth of his kingdom.
3. At all times of our life - from birth to death - we continue to have some problem or other. As a child, we wanted to have balloon without which we felt we were incomplete, as a student we wanted to complete our education and acquire qualifications, as a professional we wanted to earn money, name, fame etc. As a grand old person, we want our great grand children to come to a good position in life. The search or waiting is eternal.
4. Problems in life are never completely absent. We may forget about them for a while when we are immersed in the positive emotions. Even when we are amidst a happiest situation, deep down in our mind, we continue to have many pending problems. While watching a movie, if a friend talks about the upcoming exams, we get irritated with that friend for reminding us our problem.
5. Pleasure and pain are two sides of the same coin. When we enjoy the company of a friend, unconsciously we are binding ourselves to an impending sorrow. If we analyze all our problems, we will see that the opposite of the same is our enjoyment.
Step 6: Persistence of the problem and multiple 'solutions'
We have seen that the cause of the problem keeps changing from time to time and varies among individuals but the problem that we suffer, continues to be the same. Cause of the problem lies outside and the problem lies inside our mind.
Our effort to remove the cause of the problem can never be complete because the cause will keep reappearing in different forms.
Example: If we buy a balloon to solve the problem of the child, it will soon start crying for a chocolate.
Instead of attempting to change the cause of the problem, we need to work on the actual problem, which is our suffering.
If we understand these six steps, we can recognize the universal problem.
It is called universal problem because it is applicable to all the human beings at all times. Every individual wants to achieve a particular goal in life, which has already been accomplished by some one else. Nevertheless, no one seems to be completely fulfilled or contented ever. Therefore, the problem is universal.
Temporary solution Vs Ultimate Solution
Instead of trying to find the solution to the universal problem, people in general are working towards removing the apparent cause of the problem, which lies in the outside world. The solution that they find will always be inadequate and temporary since the basic problem of discontentment is not solved.
It is not possible to find a lasting solution by making corrections in the external world. World will continue to offer the pairs of the opposites and we need to know how to handle them without any trace of suffering. This is the ultimate solution.
Example: The problem of a broken arm is not solved through painkiller or anesthesia. This may be the first step in solving the problem. We need to proceed with the treatment and ensure that the cause of the problem, the fracture in the bone, is addressed.
Temporary solution is similar to giving anesthesia, which does not eliminate the root cause of the problem but relieves us from the pain temporarily.
Ultimate solution is like an operation, which removes the root cause of the problem that lies in our mind.
Arjuna after expressing his sorrowful situation waited for Lord Krishna to give a solution. After hearing his predicament without interrupting, Lord Krishna started talking for the first time.
Chapter 2: Wisdom is the solution [Verse: 1]
2.1 Sanjaya said: Seeing the sorrowful Arjuna who is overpowered by attachment with his eyes brimming with tears, Lord Krishna, spoke the following words.