"This world is a place of misery and suffering." Is it? Well, maybe. But to me it seems like it ain't … It's just boring as hell.
You know, when I hear someone say the world is a place of suffering, I just can't relate. I mean, sure there's a pretty big earthquake in Transylvania now and then; and yeah, a few bloody riots in Zimbabwe but 99% of the time my main problem is trying to find a descent sitcom rerun on TV.
That's the story of my life: a group of events strung together, a series of attempts at boredom evasion. Crack a joke. Turn the channel. Call a friend. Blast the stereo. Chew some gum. Go to a show. Scribble. Write a Shakespearean love sonnet … Whatever. Somehow escape.
But the boredom always returns, leaking in around the edges.
Why? 'Cause that's the way it is. That's one thing the material world is made of: boredom.
We don't want to hear that. We can't stand being bored. It's not right. It's not fair. I don't deserve it!
I really don't. The soul is full of vibrancy and constantly intensifying newness. And that's why we loathe family picnics. And that's why we're dissatisfied. We're not supposed to be bored. But we are.
Why? How has the all-adventurous soul become bland? Because he has put himself into the world of make-believe.
For the soul to interact with the material world, he has to make believe. Make believe he's some eighteen-year-old guy with his first driver's license. Make believe he's some proud new grandpa. Make believe he's the body.
See, everything in life happens to the body the soul has to make believe it means something to him. Nothing directly touches him. No tear, no fear. Everything is vicarious secondhand life.
After 72 billion zillion lifetimes, it gets pretty stale. And so we're bored. That is real suffering. When someone says this is a world of suffering, that's often what he really means. Not that there's some grandstand fireworks display of tear-jerking tragedy. It's just boredom. Terminally recurrent boredom.
But the spiritual world ain't some cartoon funny factory where everyone trips on laughing gas all day. It's not some big goody-two-shoes Good Samaritan smile. Or some fat angel with a harp.
The spiritual world is where the soul stops the make-believe. There experience is not vicarious or secondhand. Every emotion reaches in and grabs you by the throat, strangles you, tickles you, beats you up, and caresses you. There you live as you know you're supposed to exciting, adventurous, dangerous, yet at the same time thrillingly soft, quiet, and safe.
In the material world, even when we're the most deeply suffering, we're not suffering. Even when we do feel suffering, the soul in this world is in a body cast. Stagnating. Unable to feel.
That is hell.
In Sri Vrndavana, Krsna's dearest girlfriends (the gopis) are anything but bored.
To get a rough idea what the gopis' life is like at any given second, take all the happiest, most thrilling moments of everyone in the world and pile them together into a big mountain. That "mountain" would seem smaller than a pebble when placed next to the unguessable heights of sheer excitement the gopis experience by meeting their Krsna.
Now take all the heart-wrenching torments and tragedies of the world and put them all together. They'd seem hardly a scrap of paper blowing in the breeze, next to the bottomless desperation the gopis feel when apart from their Krsna.
Theirs is the world of full color, ours the world in black & white. We can live in full color. That's Krsna consciousness.
Otherwise, I guess there might be an "I Love Lucy" rerun at 4:30….
Vraja Kishor Dasa (formerly Bhakta Vic of 108) joined the Hare Krsna movement about three years ago. He recently received spiritual initiation from Dhanurdhara Swami in Vrndavana, India. He and his band (called 108) are based at ISKCON's temple in Washington D.C.