“The body is only a dead vehicle to be worked by the spirit soul, which is always active and cannot stop even for a moment. As such, the spirit soul has to be engaged in the good work of Krishna consciousness, otherwise it will be engaged in occupations dictated by illusory energy.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 3.5 Purport)
It was a typical day at work for Brent. He was occupied in his programming and other daily tasks. In the office with him was Duncan, who was also hard at work. Things were going smoothly until Duncan complained out loud, “We’re getting snow again tomorrow.” The area had just seen a severe snowstorm, one that dropped a foot of snow where Brent lived. He particularly didn’t like to do manual labor. One of the reasons he chose programming as a field was because it allowed his mind to work. He didn’t have to get his hands dirty, so to speak.
Duncan’s pronouncement didn’t sit well with Brent, who immediately wondered if he would have to dig his car out again the next morning. More importantly, if the snowfall was during work hours, he would likely have to stay home, something he didn’t like to do.
“How much are we supposed to get?” Brent asked with hesitation.
“They’re saying four to six inches,” Duncan responded.
“Hot darn, forty-six inches?” Brent said in a loud voice, referencing an inside joke between the two of them. Several years prior, Duncan was asked by a coworker about an impending snowstorm. When he informed her that the forecast was for four to six inches, she misheard him. Startled, she responded, “Forty-six inches? Hot darn.” Ever since then that phrase had been an inside joke with Brent and Duncan.
“This winter has been terrible. This snow has got to stop,” said Brent.
“Seriously. It’s supposed to drop in the morning.”
“I think I’ll try to come in, then. Hopefully it won’t be too bad.”
When the next morning arrived, Brent was so tired from the night’s sleep that he forgot about the forecast. He considered staying in bed the whole day, such was his fatigue. But he never felt good about wasting a day away doing nothing, so he finally got out of bed and looked outside. “Hmm, this doesn’t look so bad,” he said to himself as he looked at the streets and his car covered in what seemed like a small amount of snow. “I am really tired, but this snow doesn’t look like it’s too much. Let me go out there and shovel. After everything is clear, I’ll decide whether or not I want to stay home and sleep.”
In comparison with the recent storms that had hit the area, this snowfall was not much. Brent quickly shoveled the area at the end of the driveway and the neighboring sidewalks. An interesting thing happened in the process, however. He didn’t feel tired anymore. “Wow, I feel great. I definitely want to go to work now. Who knew? All I had to do was get up and be a little active. That woke me up even when I thought I didn’t have the energy to do anything.”
With his driveway now clear, his car cleaned, and his spirits uplifted, Brent went in to work as per normal. That night he received a call from his friend Joel.
“All is good with me, man. I’m calling you because one of the swamis from the local temple is going to do a program at our home this Friday night. It would be really cool if you could make it,” said Joel.
“Sure, of course. Should I bring anything?” asked Brent.
“Just your enthusiasm, as per usual. Did you go to work today? I saw you guys got more snow than we did.”
“Okay. Yeah, I went in. An interesting thing happened to me in the morning.”
Brent then explained everything to Joel about what had happened. He told of how his energy levels changed so quickly, just from doing some work. “I think it was a sense of accomplishment. I got some physical work in and that got the blood flowing.”
“It’s interesting that you mention that,” said Joel. “I was reading recently of an incident in Benjamin Franklin’s life. When he was living in Philadelphia, at one point there were so many wars going on and so many attacks coming from this group and that. He decided to form a voluntary army, and then he got nominated to be the leader. On one of their exercises, he noticed that the men in the army were happiest and most well-behaved when they had work to do. When they were idle, they were more unruly and upset.”
“Oh, that’s interesting,” said Brent.
“Yeah, and so that’s similar to your experience. But you know there’s even a spiritual lesson you can take away from it.”
“Have you ever heard of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati?”
“I think so, but I’m not sure.”
Joel then explained the concept of parampara, or disciplic succession, and how Bhaktisiddhanta was the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Joel explained further:
“One of the things Bhaktisiddhanta would say is that one who has got life, he can preach.”
“Okay. What does that mean?” asked Brent.
“It can be understood in different ways. Someone who is alive can speak on the glories of the Supreme Lord. Someone who is active can instruct others on bhakti-yoga and how it is the constitutional occupation for the spirit soul. But it also has relevance to your experience, I think.”
“How so? And you know, people are often turned off by that word: ‘preach.’”
“That’s true. The Sanskrit equivalent is kirtanam, which actually just means ‘to describe.’ Preaching in bhakti-yoga means to describe the Supreme Lord. And doing that actually gives life to a person. When you start glorifying God you feel enlivened. And in that enlivened state, you can go on describing, without stop. Just look at Shrila Prabhupada. He wrote so many books, and they’re all kirtanam, describing God.” Joel then went into detail on how many books Prabhupada authored, at what stage in life they were written, and the process that went into publishing them.
“That’s just astounding,” said an incredulous Brent. “I can’t believe that one man could write so much.”
“Yes, but we know that it happened. So many others continue kirtanam in their own way. Like that singer whose YouTube video you sent me last week. He travels the world fulltime with his wife, singing at programs and speaking about bhakti-yoga. He doesn’t get tired because he is enlivened by glorifying God.”
“It makes sense, because when I’m at these programs and singing along to the chanting of the maha-mantra, I feel like I could keep going for hours.”
“See, that’s because it’s kirtanam, which gives life. Well anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing you on Friday. Let’s hope it doesn’t snow in the meantime.”
Though feeling tired are you,
Enlivened when some task to do.
Up bringing spirits your,
Welcome is newest chore.
This a spiritual lesson also to teach,
That he with life only can preach.
Glories of the Supreme always to sing,
Transcendental touch to others to bring.