When we face a painful situation, we often tend to run away from it. Such running can be intelligent when the pain is unnecessary and avoidable, as when we accidentally put our hand in fire. But when the pain is essential and unavoidable, running away from it frequently makes things worse. Instead, if we try to learn from it, pain can impel us to grow internally and even externally.
At the start of the Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna faced imminent pain in the form of participating in a fratricidal war. The pain was so heart-wrenching that it reduced him, a battle-hardened model of kshatriya virility, to tears (02.01). When thus afflicted, he was tempted to run away from the pain by renouncing the world.
His real happiness depended not on the fate of the war, but the faith of his heart
But instead of indulging in that temptation to flee, he sought to learn from the pain by seeking Krishna’s guidance (02.07). That eagerness to learn led to the elevation of his consciousness to the spiritual level, wherein he understood his identity to be not fragile and material but indestructible and spiritual. Further, he understood that his real happiness depended not on the fate of the war, but the faith of his heart in the omni-benevolence of the Lord, of whom he was a beloved part. Being buoyed by this knowledge, he determinedly faced the pain by his absorption in devotional purposefulness and attained unparalleled success.
Similarly, when we are faced with pain, instead of resentfully or fretfully running away from it, we can choose to learn from it by seeking Krishna’s guidance through Gita wisdom. Then by seeking refuge in his remembrance we too can realize the indestructibility of our spiritual core and the inexhaustibility of his love. Being thus reassured and rejuvenated, we can face the pain with grace and wisdom and determination, growing through it towards all-round gain.