“O son of Dasharatha, those persons who remember you just once get all happiness bestowed upon them by you. Why, then, don’t you care about me, O ocean of mercy?” (Dohavali, 46)
Friend-One: Can you have success in material life while simultaneously progressing in spiritual life?
Friend-Two: What is your definition of success?
F1: You know, like going to a good college, earning a decent amount of money, having a nice family.
F2: Sure, why wouldn’t you be able to have that?
F1: Well, doesn’t it go against the theme of spiritual life? You’re supposed to be conscious of God, especially at the time of death [Bhagavad-gita, 8.5]. Instead of thinking of yourself, your body, or the bodies of others, you’re supposed to be fixed on the spiritual energy, which emanates from the person that is Krishna.
F2: That is all true, for sure. Let me ask you this, have you ever been talking to someone and not listening to what they were saying?
F1: I’m sorry, what did you say? [smiling]
F2: Very funny. You see what I mean, though?
F1: Not quite.
F2: If you’re thinking of something else while talking to someone, it means that your mind is more powerful than the circumstance. From this ability, you could be conscious of God in any situation. Your material success or lack thereof should not be a factor.
F1: But what about attachment? If I’m attached to my family members, isn’t that a problem?
F2: Yeah, that’s a different story. You can’t have attachment for both. If your family members are also on the transcendental path, then that is a special circumstance. Then your attachment is good since the people to whom you are attached are headed towards the same destination that you seek.
F1: I see. Yeah, the family life thing I find quite puzzling. I see the attachment leading people astray all the time. Yet I feel like I’m the only one seeing it.
F2: Care to explain?
F1: Well, recently I was on a long flight and I was sitting close to a family. From overhearing their conversations, I came to learn that the father was doing everything. He was buying the children things. He was taking them to this place and that. He was feeding them nice food.
F2: I don’t see anything wrong with that. A father should be affectionate.
F1: The thing was, the kids weren’t appreciative. He paid for everything and yet he was the target of their hate. I couldn’t believe how the children were talking to him. They were making fun of him, calling him names, and saying that he was a cheapskate.
F2: Yeah, I can’t relate. I could never talk to my parents that way.
F1: I know! Me neither. I guess some families are like that. The members are so close with one another that there are no formalities. Anyway, the whole thing got me to thinking. The embodiment of the material way of life is the family, is it not?
F1: And so all your work goes towards satisfying your family. But the more you give them, the less happy they are. They don’t even appreciate what you do.
F2: That’s just human nature. We forget good deeds done for us. That’s just part of being fallible.
F1: I would think this would be further justification for accepting the path of devotional service. At least with God, your work will be appreciated.
F2: That’s a great point. Goswami Tulsidas says that a person who remembers the Supreme Lord just once gets all happiness. One good deed is enough to get rewarded. One example is the fruit vendor in Vrindavana, whose basket of fruit was turned into jewels by Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
F1: I’m sure someone hearing our conversation would worry that we’re advocating abandoning the family altogether.
F2: The issue is attachment. We see that strong attachment doesn’t yield great results. The attachment directed towards the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord will actually benefit the family much more in the long run. So it’s a win-win.
F1: But as an example, won’t the family members get mad that the father’s attention is getting diverted?
F2: If the children are spoiled, they certainly will get upset. It takes great courage to accept the path of devotional service. Only after many lifetimes and many pious deeds does one get the opportunity to meet the spiritual master, who is God’s true representative on earth. And then one has to be fortunate enough to follow the instructions of that representative.
F1: If there is one instruction to follow for the present day, what would it be?
F2: Chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Shravanam and kirtanam, chanting and hearing – these are best at bringing attachment to Shri Krishna.
F1: How can you tell that your efforts are paying off?
F2: Consciousness. The more you think about God and His transcendental form, the more attachment you have. The more you are attached to Him, the more you will be detached from everything not directly related to Him. One side is Krishna and the other is maya. One side is appreciation for even a single effort and the other is ill-will despite a lifetime of giving.
Father to children so much giving,
In return disrespectful to him living.
When this affection flowing profuse,
If lacking benefit then of what use?
Krishna to remember deed just one,
By devotion only is His heart won.
Instruction of the guru desires fulfilling,
Since thoughts of Krishna into mind then filling.