“A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires – that enter like rivers into the ocean which is ever being filled but is always still – can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.70)
samudram āpaḥ praviśanti yadvat
tadvat kāmā yaṁ praviśanti sarve
sa śāntim āpnoti na kāma-kāmī
Friend1: Do you ever get the feeling that some people will just never be happy?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: I’m specifically referring to the cause-backers.
Friend2: That’s a new term. You might have just invented something.
Friend1: Probably not, but it’s the first thing that popped into my head.
Friend2: What triggered this?
Friend1: I saw something online, through a link that someone sent me. It had this graphic at the top that really intrigued me. It could easily pass for an art exhibit, where there are many layers to the image beyond what you get from the initial glance.
Friend2: What was the image?
Friend1: Well, first let me tell you that it’s really simple. It consists mainly of two objects, and there isn’t much detail. So it’s not like you can tell who is who.
Friend2: Okay. I know describing an interesting image in words is difficult.
Friend1: On the left side you have a pistol. All you can see is the hand holding it up. The pistol is pointed up against the back of someone’s head. Then there are the words written underneath: Bake My Cake.
Friend2: So it’s someone being compelled to do something?
Friend2: That seems like an odd image to create.
Friend1: Well, I didn’t tell you the last important detail. The pistol was colored like a rainbow. It had that rainbow effect that you see on a lot of images.
Friend2: Oh! I get it now. Wow, that is interesting. Basically, activists for a recent popular cause are compelling this person to make them a cake. Even if the person doesn’t want to, they’re being threatened into doing it.
Friend2: That is an interesting think-piece.
Friend1: Well, it worked since it got me thinking. I’m going beyond the issue, though. I thought about how so many causes have been tackled in the past and it didn’t make people happy at all.
Friend2: Like which ones?
Friend1: Consider smoking. They went after the tobacco companies pretty hard. They got smoking banned in most restaurants. That’s probably a good thing since I don’t have to deal with secondhand smoke anymore.
Friend2: Yeah, that’s why most people favored the ban. If you’re not a smoker, why would you feel sympathy for those affected?
Friend1: The thing is, even with the victories the cause-backers are not happy. You see these pretty graphic commercials on television still, showing different illnesses caused by smoking.
Friend2: I’ve seen those. They are disturbing.
Friend1: Hey, I’m not promoting smoking here, but what about alcohol abuse? People can die instantly from that. It doesn’t take years like it does with smoking. Why isn’t that a cause?
Friend2: Good point. Probably because more people drink. If you told the cause-backers, they would find some excuse to give you.
Friend1: But you see what I’m saying, right? If you actually eliminated poverty, people wouldn’t be happy.
Friend2: The industrialized nations are proof of that. Compared to the majority of the world, the low income people in the industrialized nations are rich. They have cars, cell phones, houses, food, etc. They have so much food that there is an obesity epidemic.
Friend1: Exactly. So if these people are never happy, what are they really doing with their causes? You know what I mean? If the whole world stopped eating meat, the vegetarian activists wouldn’t be happy. If the government lowered taxes, outlawed abortion and left businesses alone, the conservatives still would complain. Everyone would find something to be upset over.
Friend2: This is what makes bhakti-yoga so great. It gives you something tangible to occupy your time. Even when the dust settles, you’re not left alone. At the start there is the cause to reform the deluded consciousness. The false conceptions of “I” and “Mine” get rectified. Instead of identifying with the body, I identify with spirit. Instead of labeling every object as mine, I realize that the material nature comes from God. Everything around me, including my body, is on temporary loan from Him.
Friend1: I like this example. Let’s say that you reform yourself. Wouldn’t you be left without a cause? What will you have left to do? Isn’t it like the mechanic who has no business since every car on the street is running properly?
Friend2: No, because bhakti-yoga is love and devotion. The more you fix your impurities, the more joy you get from the process. And it’s not dependent on anyone else. If the entire world is against you, you can still practice. There are so many examples from history that prove this, with the famous Prahlada Maharaja being one of them. Not only did he succeed in spite of opposition from his father and the royal influence exerted by him, but Prahlada was only in the body of a five-year old boy. He didn’t have to wait to be educated. He didn’t have to bide his time until there was maturity and thus enhanced ability to process information. He didn’t have to rely on a cause since he was always with God. Connecting with the Supreme Lord solves all problems, but we have trouble believing this. When the cause is supposedly fixed, there is just more room for practicing devotion further, with the joy increasing. “Ever-expanding” is one way to describe bhakti-yoga.
Whether store a cake to bake,
Or to the dangers of smoking to awake.
Despite a cause to undertake,
When solved still not happy to make.
Desire in continuing to flow,
Better to remain still ever so.
Only through bhakti possible to do,
Service to Lord available always to you.