WHY DO GOOD PEOPLE SUFFER?
February 22, 2002
Friday Meeting

Reacting to the hospitalization of his relative, a devotee asked a question that troubles a lot of us: Why do good people suffer? First, devotees present shared their ideas:

- At the end of the Mahabharat, Kuntimata realizes that after her suffering ended, she lost touch with Krishna Bhagwan. She then prays that her difficulties never cease, so that she constantly remembers God.
- Given in Vachanamrut Gadhada First 70, Swaminarayan Bhagwan requested two boons from His guru Ramanand Swami, "If your devotee is destined to suffer the sting of one scorpion, may the distress of the stings of millions and millions of scorpions fall on each and every pore of My body, but no pain should afflict your devotee. Further, if a begging bowl is written in your devotee's fate, may that begging bowl come to Me, but on no account should your devotee suffer from lack of food or clothing."
- In Swami Ni Vato 2/71, Gunatitanand Swami explains, "In this world, there are two [causes of] pain: lack of food or shelter and not being able to digest food. Pain outside of these two are out of ignorance."
- A person witnessing a mother cat may not be able to see the difference between the cat holding her kitten and holding a mouse (by her mouth). Similarly, God and His saint carry devotees for their continual progress.

Dinkar Uncle then explained that our physical body is like a vehicle (for the driver which is the soul). And just as a car gains miles and needs regular maintenance, so does our body. It is more effective and less expensive in the long run to keep up with preventive maintenance. The concept of preventive maintenance is important in corporations as well: equipment and machinery undergo preventive maintenance to avoid breakdowns during critical production periods. Our body similarly needs regular preventive maintenance.

Second, just as we do not consider dropping off our vechicle to the mechanic as suffering, we should not think of going to the hospital as suffering. Many do not visit their doctor out of fear or pride - instead one should develop a positive attitude when visiting the hospital.

Third, there is a reason behind every signal the body emits. We must analyze these signals instead of ignoring them, understanding that some aspects are received genetically and some are a result of our lifestyle. Thus, we should avoid habits such as smoking. Otherwise, the bodily damage that results from "bad" habits can even affect "good" people. In other words, being a good person does not necessarily mean one does not have any bad habits.

Fourth, suffering is more of a state of mind and different from pain. Suffering can be defined as a state of mind when something is forcibly taken away from us. Because of one's attachment to his/her body, there is suffering upon news of problems with one's body.

Finally, one must understand that the body is designed to deteriorate after a certain age. Typically, by the age of 60, signs become more and more evident. Compared to the past, though we may be able to live longer today due to technology or amenities, it needs to be accepted that the body will eventually pass away.

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