I called up Krishna the other day because I was having a really hard time. There were so many things going wrong and I couldn't understand why. So I said,
"Krishna, you love me, right? "And feelingly He said, "Of course. I love you unconditionally." So I questioned how you can love someone and at the same time make their life difficult." "Oh yes," Krishna said, "It's quite possible." And explained how.
"You know when you are sitting in a chair and after a while you become uncomfortable?"
"So what do you do?"
"I move to another position."
"So when I see you need to get out of your present position and move to a better position, I make your life a little uncomfortable. When I do this you start wondering why it's like this. And then you call me up. By the way, if everything were going perfectly, would you have called me up?
"Okay, okay, I get it. But will the suffering ever stop?"
"Oh sure, when you learn your lessons. Of course, you could also learn them without suffering. You know, like do what i say. But you don't seem to do that enough and you tend to get sidetracked. So that's when I need to give you a little push. You see I really do love you, but sometimes it's tough love."
"So what happens when I learn all the lessons?"
"You graduate. When you leave this world, you won't to come back because there's nothing more for you to learn. You are 'out of here' as they say in your country."
"Yeah but I am a slow learner, and that means I must suffer a lot. It doesn't seem fair."
"But you are the one creating your own suffering. Anyway, the material world is not a good place to stay if you don't like suffering. So don't keep complaining about suffering. It comes with the reincarnation package. But I use suffering to help devotees eventually overcome their tendency to cause their own suffering. Remember, my gift to you is the freedom to choose the right thing. And your gift to yourself is to choose the right thing."
"But wouldn't it have been better if you didn't allow me to mess up?"
"No, you really wouldn't be able to live without your full freedom. You'd actually go crazy. Plus, since most people n Kali-yuga are not very intelligent, you will find that you usually learn best by making mistakes and suffering the consequences. And when my devotees need to make a change or learn something new, and they are stuck, I make things a little difficult for them. But I do it because I love them."
"Yeah, it does seem like life's difficulties carry invaluable lessons."
"Yes. Think of the people that have hurt you or caused you some misery and consider whether you have learned anything, or grown, by going through those difficulties. Those who hurt you were some of your best teachers, but I bet you called them some pretty nasty names. You see, I put people in front of you that disturb you so you can learn to be more tolerant, forgiving and compassionate. Didn't you always use to say 'It's all Krishna's mercy' when you were a new devotee?"
"Yeah, but … "
"So you think it's My mercy when everything goes well and someone else's fault when it doesn't?"
"Well, it's easier to see it's your mercy in hindsight and it's easier to blame someone when I am going through the problem because sometimes people do hurtful things to me."
"Mahatma, there is no one to blame. They are just agents of your karma. Do you blame your teeth when you bit your tongue?"
"To be honest, sometimes I do."
"Exactly, we always are looking for someone or something to blame, always looking to make an excuse."
"Okay, I get it. If I am so perfect, if I have all good qualities, I wouldn't have taken another body. So I have a few more things to learn and you are making sure I learn them."
"That's it. Your offender brings you valuable lessons. You honor Me and great sadhus for bringing you the gift of knowledge that life is suffering. Yet isn't it hypocritical that you blame your 'offender' when he or she brings you the same gift as a life lesson? Should you bow to me and blame the other? Is it possible that all things work to help you and there is really no one to blame and no one to forgive?'
Mahatma Dasa joined ISKCON in 1969 and has served as temple president, book distributor, sankirtana leader, college preacher, membership director, and VIHE teacher and co-director. He is well known in ISKCON for his recorded music and his seminars.