Aditya, Tuesday, February 6, 2018 3:04 am

The Basic Human Problem (Samsara)

I have a problem. And so do you. In fact, we all have the same problem. Regardless of age, race, religion, generation…this is a universal problem for all humans. What is this basic problem all humans have? Hindu scriptures call it ‘Samsara’. It is like a disease.

Chapter 1 of the Bhagavad Gita describes this ‘Samsara Disease’, whilst chapters 2 to 18 present the medicine to cure us of this disease (called ‘Moksha’).

So what is this Samsara Disease which all of us suffer from? It is actually a combination of 3 psychological diseases: (1) Attachment (Raga), (2) Sorrow (Shoka), (3) Confusion (Moha).


  1. Attachment

Attachment means emotional attachment or psychological addiction to a thing. Attachment and Love are often confused by us as they are very similar emotions. However, attachment is heavily criticised by the Bhagavad Gita, whereas love is glorified. So it’s important we appreciate the differences:




My main concern is “what do I get out this relationship”. I don’t care about what the other person gets, that’s 2ndry. I only care about my own happiness. This is selfish attachment.


Main concern is “what will the other person/thing get out of this relationship”. That is my main concern, as well as considering my own wellbeing. But my happiness is never at the cost of someone else’s happiness. That is Selfless Love.



I take from the thing I depend upon


I give to that person/thing. I’m willing to make a sacrifice for that person.



As long as I benefit from this relationship I will hold on, else I will drop it. This is conditional attachment.



Love has no conditions

Born of a weak mind

Attachment comes from a weak mind which is empty and unhappy. Therefore the mind depends upon external factors for happiness

Born of a strong mind

Love is born out of of fullness and strength, never weakness.

Mind is confused

Mind is clear

Leads to Adharma

Because your mind is confused it looses its judgement of what’s right and wrong. You may be willing to harm others to get the object of attachment.


Leads to Dharma

Sign of Bondage (Samsari)

Sign of Freedom (Mukti)


  1. Sorrow (Shoka)

Attachment will always lead to sorrow/sadness. Why? Because if I emotionally depend heavily on something, and that something goes away (person, relationship, house, status, etc.) I will feel depressed. I will feel sorrow. Just like a fellow who leans on a walking stick for support – if he looses the stick what will happen? He will fall. Attachment is psychological ‘leaning’ on a person, object, situation. And in life it is natural that people go, situations change….so when that happens we will psychologically ‘fall’. We feel depressed, agitated, worried, unhappy. This will happen to all of us – it’s inevitable. This is a serious threat to our psychological wellbeing, and we need to prepare our minds for dealing with this threat in advance.

The great Indian philospoher Bhatrhari compares this to a fellow who’s house is on fire and the guy is trying to dig a well to find water to put the fire out after the house has caught fire! What’s the use? It’s too late, the problem has arrived. He should have dug a well in advance to prepare for such a threat. So to, the problem of depression and sorrow will hit all of us at some point due to our attachments. So what must we do to prepare for this threat to our mental state? Prepare when you are in a good state of mind, not when you are depressed already! It becomes harder if you are not in a good frame of mind to learn anything (although not impossible). The study of Vedanta and practicing of its teachings is the preparation for us.


  1. Confusion (Moha)

Attachment leads to sorrow. Sorrow leads to confusion of the mind. The mind’s intelligent thinking capacity (intellect/buddhi) gets clouded by sorrow and attachment. This makes it harder for a mind overwhelmed by sadness and attachment to correctly make judgements in life. Dharma appears as adharma, and vice-versa. Everything is opposite! For example a fellow had to stop smoking because he gained a lung infection, so after that he took up drinking instead of smoking! This is not good judgement, it’s confused. It does not solve the problem of addiction and sorrow, it just shifts the problem from one thing to another. This confused thinking is called ‘moha’.

This vicious cycle of the 3 diseases (attachment, sorrow and confusion) is the basic human problem we all face in life, called ‘Samsara’. Even Arjuna, 5000 years ago on the battlefield faced this same problem. Fortunately for us, Sri Krishna brilliantly shows us to the remedy to this samsara disease in the remainder of the Bhagavad Gita.




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