There are three different types of suffering
1. Suffering due to the body or mind
2. Suffering due to other living entities
3. Suffering due to natural disturbances
Recently I have been dealing with types 1 and 2:
1. I went back to the doctor about my knee. I found out I had an infection there and I needed to use the crutches for another week. Using the crutches made my whiplash worse too.
2. I was attacked by some small living entities. Somehow I managed to get head lice. At the same time, my room at the temple became infested with some kind of biting bug that you can’t see but it makes you very itchy. I threw out the mattress and the bed and that seems to have solved the problem.
Despite these difficulties, I can’t really complain. Krishna is actually very kind. I surely deserve much worse karma than this, considering all of my previous sinful activities. It is only due to the small service that I have rendered to my spiritual master that my suffering is reduced.
Sanatana Goswami asked Lord Chaitanya:
“Who am I? Why do the threefold miseries always give me trouble? If I do not know this, how can I be benefited? Actually I do not know how to inquire about the goal of life and the process for obtaining it. Being merciful upon me, please explain all these truths.”
Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya Lila 20.102-3
Lord Chaitanya replied that “Lord Krishna has bestowed His full mercy upon you so that all these things are known to you. For you, the threefold miseries certainly do not exist. Since you possess Lord Krishna’s potency, you certainly know these things. However, it is the nature of a sadhu to inquire. Although he knows these things, the sadhu inquires for the sake of strictness.” So Lord Chaitanya went on to explain the position of the living entity and told Sanatana that although a living entity has the facility to live in either the material or the spiritual world, when he comes to the material world he suffers the threefold miseries of material existence because he is influenced by nescience, which covers his constitutional position. Not only did Lord Chaitanya explain our fearful condition in material existence but he also explained how to become free:
“When the living entity is attracted by the material energy, which is separate from Krsna, he is overpowered by fear. Because he is separated from the Supreme Personality of Godhead by the material energy, his conception of life is reversed. In other words, instead of being the eternal servant of Krsna, he becomes Krsna’s competitor. This is called viparyayo ‘smrtih. To nullify this mistake, one who is actually learned and advanced worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead as his spiritual master, worshipful Deity and source of life. He thus worships the Lord by the process of unalloyed devotional service.”
Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya Lila 20.119 (quoting from Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.37)
Lord Chaitanya further described and categorized various transcendental forms of the Lord and then he gave information about our eternal relationship with Krishna (sambandha), the process of devotional service (abhideya), and life’s ultimate goal – love of Godhead (prayojana).
At least one good thing has come out of my recent material suffering – I have become more motivated to reflect on these important topics, to engage more seriously in the process of devotional service, and to attain the goal of life.