“The mode of passion is born of unlimited desires and longings, O son of Kunti, and because of this one is bound to material fruitive activities.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.7)
rajo rāgātmakaṁ viddhi
tan nibadhnāti kaunteya
Friend-One: I’ve been noticing these lotto commercials lately.
Friend-Two: Been itching to play?
F1: No, but it got me to thinking about desires.
F2: You have desires?
F1: Doesn’t everybody? Anyway, I was thinking about what I would do if I won.
F2: Everybody has envisioned that scenario at some point. The first thing I think of is paying off all outstanding bills.
F1: Yeah. That would be the obvious thing to do. Then should I quit my job? Should I buy a new house?
F2: Right. You start going crazy with the questions.
F1: Then I got to thinking that the entire journey through life is kind of a lotto system. Maybe not like playing for a winning ticket, but more line spinning a wheel that can land on different things.
F2: Like a fortune wheel. It’s got different things that you can ask from it.
F1: Right. It could land on something like “student loan debt paid off.”
F2: Or “cured from a disease.”
F1: There you go. So if I got a chance to spin this wheel, what would I want it to land on? What would I ask for?
F2: You’re setting me up here, right? You wanted to throw me a softball?
F1: I know, I know. I should ask for love and devotion to God. I should want to become a pure devotee, where I am free of material desires. But this wheel is still interesting.
F2: If you know the answer, why the focus on the wheel? There is an inherent problem to your question; I hope you realize that.
F1: Please tell me.
F2: It doesn’t matter what the wheel lands on.
F1: How can you say that? Are you saying money is not important? If not for money, people couldn’t survive.
F2: I didn’t say it wasn’t important.
F1: What about good health? Do you want people to suffer and die from disease? Do you?
F2: Again, good health is a great thing. So is pretty much anything the wheel will land on in this fantasy game of yours.
F1: So why did you say that it doesn’t matter what it lands on?
F2: Because you will always come back.
F1: What do you mean?
F2: Think of it this way. Suppose instead of the text that’s written on each spot in the wheel it says something like “Return at some point in the future.” Wherever it lands, that is the actual end result. Therefore it doesn’t matter what the specific reward is. You’ll have to come back and spin again.
F1: I see.
F2: In pure devotion, that’s it. You don’t need anything else. You don’t need to spin the wheel again. Any other reward will have you coming back.
F1: I guess this sort of explains the trap of gambling. You’re never satisfied. You’ll always want to keep playing to get more winnings.
F2: Forget gambling, that’s material life in general. It’s a network of desires that keeps you trapped in the cycle of birth and death.
F1: How do you ask for pure devotion? What happens when you get it?
F2: I like the example from Goswami Tulsidas. At the end of his Gitavali, he envisions approaching the king of Ayodhya on a very special day.
F1: I’m assuming that’s Lord Rama.
F2: Yes, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His incarnation made famous in the Ramayana. So on this day the king has decided He will give to each citizen whatever they ask. It’s like the fortune wheel concept. Rama is God after all, so He can grant anything. This day is special since the king promises to give whatever is asked. He does not deny the requests.
F1: What if people ask for something bad, like doing harm to another?
F2: The people are all pure at heart in Ayodhya, so that isn’t going to happen. Anyway, Tulsidas describes that he is one of the people approaching Rama on this day. He asks for pure devotion to the Lord, and because of Rama’s promise the reward is granted.
F1: That’s pretty cool.
F2: Yeah, that’s the secret in bhakti-yoga. Sincere desire is enough to bring success. That’s why people chant the holy names so often: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Let those names be uttered just one time with sincerity and God will grant a reward not found in any lottery or fortune wheel. He’ll give a reward to last lifetime after lifetime.
On fortune wheel to take a spin,
Anticipation over what I can win.
That all landing spots the same should know,
Since later again towards wheel to go.
With pure devotion through chanting,
Supreme Lord reward immediately granting.
That in bhakti-yoga always to stay,
His guiding hand leading the way.