“The mind is always flying to this and that, but one must always practice concentrating the mind on the form of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna or on the sound of His name. The mind is naturally restless, going hither and thither, but it can rest in the sound vibration of Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)
Profit means success. You are profitable in your venture if you have achieved the desired result. As success is not easy, there are rules to live by. To live by a rule, you have to remember it. Likely you received the rule from someone else, so you essentially have to remember what someone else told you in order to succeed. If you heard about that principle through reading or coming upon it by chance, you still have to remember. In a similar fashion, to make the human existence as a whole profitable, one simply has to remember a sound.
“Keep your chin up.” This rule is for building perseverance. The easiest thing in the world to do is fail. All you have to do is give up. If you’ve had enough of the pressure, if you’re too afraid of dealing with defeat again after a long struggle, you just don’t put forth an effort. Don’t try. You fail from the beginning, but it supposedly hurts less since your expectations were lower. You’re told to keep your chin up, to hold your head high, in order to achieve success, to go against the tide of inertia. You keep this rule in mind because of how easy it is to get discouraged through failed attempts.
“Practice makes perfect.” The human being is flawed. He cannot simply will something to happen. He can’t form an image in his mind and then have it manifest before him without any effort. If you have an idea for how a certain room in your house should look, you have to then put the work in to make that vision a reality. If you want to be a champion, the best in your field, you have to work at it. You can’t expect perfection immediately, since there is only one all-perfect being. You have to practice, and since practice is generally not preferred, you have to remind yourself of the benefits of practicing.
“Live to fight another day.” You remember this principle because at the time of failure it’s hard to remember that time will wipe the slate clean eventually. You’ll get your chance again, even if that chance doesn’t come again for another lifetime. Why give up all hope today when you have another chance tomorrow? You keep this principle in mind because it is very easy to forget time’s ability to heal wounds.
Just as remembering a principle or two helps us to earn temporary victories in this temporary life, remembering a guiding principle can help to achieve the ultimate victory of the human form. This form came to us after a long struggle. We don’t remember it, but we’ve lived before. We know this based on our present experiences. We actually lived in our mother’s womb. We couldn’t see the outside world then. We couldn’t talk to anyone. We remained packed up in the tiniest of spaces for around nine months. In adulthood we have fear of small spaces. Known as claustrophobia, to do something as simple as sit in an airplane for extended hours we require medication to ease our tension. Yet we lived in our mother’s womb for so long without any worry.
We don’t remember that time, but it did happen. It was a past life in a sense. From the Bhagavad-gita, we learn that there were many past lives. This is made possible by the eternality of the soul and the multitude of species. Think of the species like different outfits. The material world is like a closet full of millions of outfits, each of which can be accepted by a spirit soul. We can spend some years in the outfit of a fish, only to shed those clothes and later on put on the garb of a lizard.
The human form is the pinnacle achievement. It is the best set of clothes because it carries the highest potential for intelligence. Remembering requires intelligence. To know what to remember to achieve a specific result also requires intelligence. So we know that to get ordinary success a person has to have some brains to them. To get out of the material form, to escape the cycle of birth and death, requires the intelligence to remember the foremost guiding principle: devotion.
“Be devoted to God. Remember His transcendental form, which is changeless. Remember His ability to create innumerable universes without effort. Keep in mind His love for all creatures, large and small. Remember His teachings found in the Bhagavad-gita, which say that the material existence is not a very good friend, that it features temporary gains and losses which bewilder the spirit soul who otherwise knows better.”
These are the instructions of the confidential servants of the Supreme Lord, who is the one and only God for all of humanity. To remember these instructions is indeed difficult, as they cover all aspects of life. They apply to any and all situations, and sometimes the rules seem to contradict. On the one hand we should be detached from the outcomes to actions, and on the other we’re supposed to remain enthusiastic in our devotional efforts. How can we remain detached and interested at the same time?
Above all else, the guiding principle is to remember God. We can remember this principle by committing it to memory and calling upon it when needed. We can also accomplish the same by simply remembering a sound. It is a mantra, more specifically, which is a sequence of sounds aligned perfectly together to bring the presence of the Supreme Lord and His energy. The one mantra to remember is the greatest of mantras, and so it is known as the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
To see if we are progressing along the right path in life, we can ask ourselves the same question each morning: “Are you remembering the sound?” Are we remembering the sound of the holy names? Are we attached to chanting those names, and how long do we go without remembering them? The names are sufficient for success in life, though we have no faith in this. Thus we have to keep reminding ourselves to remember the sound, and the best way to remember is to constantly hear. One who thus always hears remembers not only the sound of the maha-mantra, but also Krishna Himself. In so doing, they attain His nature in the next life, living in His land, where He takes great pleasure with His perfect energy, Hare, and His number one protector, Rama.
For success in venture to find,
Guiding principle to keep in mind.
From remembering only a sound,
Success of human birth found.
Carrying in potency to Him the same,
So important thus the holy name.
Tomorrow and today remember by hearing,
Sound your pathway to liberation clearing.