Q: If devotees are being protected by Krishna then why do we suffer?
A: This is what I call the Disneyland conception of spiritual life, where Krishna is like Mickey Mouse. Kids go to Disneyland and Mickey’s there welcoming them: ‘Welcome to my happy Magic Kingdom”. You go in there and everything is like a cartoon world, it’s all laughter and happiness and entertainment and that’s all.
There are people who seem to think that this is what ISKCON should be like. ISKCON should be a Disneyland, and if it’s not a Disneyland then there’s something wrong and we have to get together to have meetings to fix it. But as far as I can understand this idea is totally alien to the Vedic conception of dharma and human life. This actually comes from the Western conception of life. It’s said that God gave Adam and Eve a Garden of Eden, an earthly paradise and everything was nice. So people have this idea that if we become nice again, like Adam and Eve, pure and innocent, then God better give me a Garden of Eden or there’s gonna be trouble.
There’s a history to this. This whole Western conception originally comes from a Vedic sage who deviated. He is mentioned in the Rg Veda as Jarutha. and is known in Western history by the name Zarasthustra. He started a religion called Zoroastrianism, which is the first of the Western religions. After Zoroastrianism came Judaism, then Chrisitanity, then Islam: it’s like a sampradaya.
Jarutha was a brahmana, a priest of the demigod Varuna. Jarutha was the first one to conceive of an earthly paradise and that there will be a messiah who will come. He came up with the notion that all the bodies will be raised out of the ground and judged and the bad ones will go to Hell and the good ones will inherit the Earth. The Earth will become like heaven and that will be the reward for our pious activities: we’ll live forever on the Earth in an eternal material body.
These teachings of Jarutha are the seed of the whole Western conception of religion and we see that people come out of the Western culture into ISKCON and they bring these conceptions with them. They get all excited about the millenium. That is also part of Zoroastrianism; that there will be a day when the Earth will be changed: that there will be a day when all the evil people are destroyed and only the good will be left and the messiah will be there. The Western mind is obsessed with this idea: That if I dedicate myself to God and if I become pure again then there should be an Eden, an earthly paradise; everything should be nice and taken care of and if it’s not then there’s something wrong.
But show me such a promise in the Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita, there’s nothing like that there. What Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita is that if you take to this path you have to be prepared to tolerate the sukha [happiness] that you deserve by your past karma. You have a certain amount of happiness coming to you and a certain amount of duhka, suffering, also. You have to see happiness and distress, not as one better than the other but as the same happiness and distress as perceived by this material body are the same. We should just tolerate them, don’t be interested in them and definitely don’t try and judge your spiritual life or your spiritual advancement in terms of how much you’re enjoying. Don’t think that if you’re getting more duhkha than sukha that there’s something wrong, that we have to make a revolution: again this is the agitated Western mentality.
We should understand what is the siddhanta, what is the actual conclusion of our bhagavata philosophy otherwise we will not attain Krishna Consciousness.
Q & A after the lecture given by H.H. Suhotra Swami on Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 17.26 1-5, recorded on 21st February 1999 at Radhadesh, Belgium
Title of the lecture: Real solution for the thirst for happiness