“It is also recommended that the devotee should be muni, or thoughtful; he should always think of Krishna and how to render better service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That should be his only anxiety.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.27.8 Purport)
“How do I better serve my parents? They have done so much for me. Sure, there were times growing up when I hated them. In retrospect, I think that’s good. You’re not doing your job as a parent if your kids don’t hate you on occasion. I was too spoiled, in fact. They could have been tougher on me. My happiness in adult life is due to them, and now I don’t know how to pay them back. What can I do for them?”
“How do I better serve my company? We’re in this thing together. It’s tough economic times right now. I’ve long ago shed the flawed notion that the bosses have all of this money that they’re not giving us. I see the profit margins. I see the monthly income. They have so many new regulations with which to deal. How do I improve my performance so that we’ll be more successful as a company? This is a good job, one that I’d like to keep going forward.”
“How do I better serve my nation? When someone says they hate their country, they’re essentially saying they hate their neighbors. That’s not a wise thing to say, considering that we don’t know all of our neighbors. They are human beings just like me, struggling with this world. Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that all living entities are struggling living in this material nature of His.”
apareyam itas tv anyāṁ
prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat
“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.5)
“How do I better serve my friends? They are there for me. I’ve known them for so long. I will do anything for them in fact. I see some people lose touch with their friends after getting married. I’ve vowed to not let that happen to me. But I’m not sure what I can do for them. They don’t need money. I can spend time with them, but does that really make them happy?”
A muni is someone who is thoughtful. In the Vedic tradition it is said that one is not a muni unless and until he disagrees with another muni. We see this play out on television programs that feature a panel of experts. The people giving their opinions don’t all agree. If they did, there would be no reason to have them on the show. You only stand out if you say something that someone else hasn’t said already.
When entering the realm of bhakti-yoga, the muni’s thoughtfulness turns towards service to the Supreme. The fear for the person who doesn’t know so much about bhakti-yoga is that this thoughtfulness automatically leads to neglect.
How will the parents be served if the only thought is on making the Supreme Lord happy? How will the nation be made strong if it is forgotten in favor of God? How will diseases be cured? How will the family be maintained?
The thoughtful devotee knows that there is struggle throughout in a material existence. Like traversing a road that has thorns from side to side and end to end, in a life devoid of the spiritual consciousness there is only misery. Despite the best attempts to serve others, there is the painful end known as death. For every living entity that death has already taken place; it simply has yet to manifest. Not to worry, as time will make sure it arrives.
If death is guaranteed, what is the best use of the living experience? The Supreme Lord is the root cause of everything. Service to Him is likened to watering the roots of a tree. The leaves and the branches automatically get fed. The same doesn’t work in the reverse. Feeding a single leaf will not take care of the rest of the tree.
The muni in bhakti-yoga has the anxiety of wondering how to better serve. If they are chanting the holy names at present, they wonder how they can find room to chant more. If they are serving fellow devotees by supporting their efforts, they wonder how they can better assist. If they think of God’s all-attractive form right now, they wonder how they can keep that attention going forward.
Maturity in the devotional consciousness repays the good protection offered by the parents. The nation too shares in the credit due the servant of the Supreme Lord. The friends learn the true meaning of a well-wisher by seeing someone who can teach the mission in life. The place of business gets a benefit as well, as it plays some role in the further advancement of the devoted soul.
This anxiety for the devotee-muni serves as a catalyst for more service, which only continues to help others. A world full of thoughtful servants of the Supreme Lord turns the miserable material existence into a pleasurable one. The onslaught of time no longer brings the fear of loss, as in any situation the attention to devotion will continue: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Parents done so much for me,
How happy faces on them to see?
Of my friends and nation also thinking,
Not wishing for into despair sinking.
When muni following bhakti’s route,
Satisfies all, like of tree watering the root.
Anxiety for Krishna instead make,
And every opportunity for service take.