“Time is called kala – past, present and future. What is now present, tomorrow will be past, and what is now future, tomorrow will be present. But this past, present and future are the past, present and future of the body. We do not belong to the category of the past, present and future. We belong to the category of eternity. Therefore one should be concerned with how to attain or how to be elevated to the platform of eternity.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Easy Journey to Other Planets, Ch 2)
One interesting fact among many in Vedic philosophy is that a saintly character can see past, present and future. There is Lord Brahma, the creator. He is godlike, though not the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. Every creature can trace their origin to Brahma. The person who doesn’t know that God exists attributes their origin to chance or chemicals. The Vedic tradition reveals that Brahma is the personality behind that chance, the person who uses the chemicals to make the variety of species.
Then there are those who follow Brahma, like Narada Muni. They have wisdom of the highest value, and due to their full immersion in bhakti-yoga, they can see what will come in the future. They know what is going on in the present, and they have knowledge of the past. Roger was explaining this to his friend one day. His friend asked if Narada and others can tell who is going to win the Super Bowl in the upcoming year or if they can select the mega millions lottery numbers.
Roger explained that the future vision is with respect to more important things, things that the individual either willfully ignores or is completely unaware of. For instance, the saint knows that no amount of sense gratification will make a person happy. Even winning the lotto or making all the right picks at the racetrack will not solve life’s problems. The saint sees into the future that though beautiful right now, a living entity will eventually suffer old age. More importantly, the saintly character in bhakti-yoga knows that death will eventually come for all.
Taking a story from his own life, Roger tried to explain how others have a similar ability to see into the future, and how they use it for their benefit.
I’ll never forget that time we arrived early to a concert. It was to see my favorite band, and they were playing a small venue this time. Due to their popularity at the time, they usually played large arenas and stadiums, but this was a special tour consisting of only a few dates. I was young at the time, so I was excited at the possibility of getting up real close at a general admission show in a small venue.
When they opened the gates, my friend and I rushed to the front. We were right at the railing. We couldn’t believe our good luck. We looked behind us and saw only an empty floor. It gradually started to fill, but things didn’t look so bad. We were estimating that the venue probably held only a few thousand people. It didn’t matter, though, since we were at the front. We were going to enjoy more than the others.
I started worrying a little when the opening act came on. There was pressure from behind. Picture a line of one hundred people pushing forward and you’re at the front. It was something like that. We were like pancakes being pressed into shape. I tried to will myself to ignore the pain. We were in the front, a place where others wanted to be. I wasn’t going to give this up so easily.
When the main act came on, it got even worse. I could no longer take it. I had no control over my body. Whatever direction the large crowd went, that’s where I was sent. Finally, a few songs in I had to ask the security guards in the front to pull me out. I don’t know how others handled the situation so calmly, but my ribs felt like they were going to shatter. Anyway, even pulling me out was difficult. I almost lost my shoe, as the crowd was so densely packed.
Years later, I went with my nephew to a similar concert. He was very excited to get there early, but I explained to him that things wouldn’t look the same going forward. He told me that I was worrying needlessly. He decided to go up to the front, while I stayed back. Sure enough, when the concert started, he felt the pressure from behind. I couldn’t see him; I was quite worried. I shouldn’t have let him go, but he was so enthusiastic. Fortunately, he was able to push his way to the back. When he saw me, he said that I was right. He was surprised that I could predict the future like that.
Roger explained to his friend that the saintly people who follow bhakti-yoga have similar vision, but of an extended timeline. They know what works and what doesn’t in life. They know that the departing soul will be conscious of something. They also know that whatever consciousness one has at the time of death, that state they will attain in the next life without fail.
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ
tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)
Narada Muni and others recommend that one always be conscious of Krishna. Krishna is God, the name addressing Him that means “all-attractive.” There will come a time when the individual baffled by the dualities of material nature will seek a higher experience. It may not come in the present lifetime, but at some point in the future it will. The person practicing devotion to God has foreseen that event and headed it off at the pass.
They also know that so many past lives went in vain, wasted in sense gratification. Seeing that service to the senses didn’t result in permanent happiness before, these wise souls vow to make the present fruitful through always chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. With a present so blissful, the future is guaranteed to be the same.
With past present and future to see,
Can saint know who Super Bowl winner to be?
Of the nature of things detecting,
State of bewildered soul expecting.
That to material life coming an end,
And then to another birth nature to send.
Known that devotion right course now,
To make best future same way how.