“When one is fully equipped with jnana and vijnana, he is perfect. Jnana means that one understands the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, to be the Supreme Being. Vijnana refers to the activities that liberate one from the ignorance of material existence.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 5.5.10-13 Purport)
Friend1: I’ve got a problem.
Friend2: Big or small?
Friend1: Small now, but will likely become big later on.
Friend2: Is it debt, disease, or fire?
Friend1: No. Why do you ask?
Friend2: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would often quote Chanakya Pandit on that. Those are three things that should be dealt with right away. At first they are small problems, but if you ignore them they become big very quickly.
Friend1: That’s interesting. Disease and fire make sense. The debt thing flies right in the face of the American way of life. Who cares about racking up debt? The credit card companies are the evil ones.
Friend2: Right, but it’s the general rule. Even today if you pile up enough debt, you have trouble getting out from underneath it. There are these services to help people with large credit card debt. There are resolution services for people who owe a lot in back taxes.
Friend1: The problem I have is with my kids.
Friend1: One of them is really into cars. That’s all they talk about. They’re approaching that age where they have to decide what to study going forward, what they want to be.
Friend2: And you’re worried they’re too focused on materialism? It’s pretty natural at that age.
Friend1: It’s just that I know better. I know that buying an expensive car is not going to make a difference in life. At best, it’ll be fun for a few days. Then you have to maintain it. Other people will get jealous; they won’t necessarily be happy for you.
Friend2: That’s true. There’s also the perspective of shastra to consider.
Friend1: Exactly. I was getting there. One of the foundational premises of the Bhagavad-gita is that working with attention on the fruits is the wrong way. You’re supposed to do your duty and remain detached. My son has heard this teaching before; he is not unfamiliar with it.
Friend2: Have you discussed the issue with him?
Friend1: So many times. Other people have told him, too. Still, his focus is totally on cars. I have my personal experiences that I’ve shared with him. I was once into collecting things. I thought the objects would make me happy, but they didn’t. What should I do?
Friend2: Listen, there’s two things to note here. There is jnana, which is what you’re trying to impart to him. He’s getting jnana from the Bhagavad-gita, the bhakti-yoga culture, and the influence of you and your wife. That is a good thing, because the human being has the ability to act off intelligence. They have a higher potential for intelligence than any of the other species.
Friend1: Potential is the key word. If they don’t accept knowledge, they won’t get anywhere.
Friend2: The second thing is vijnana. Jnana is theoretical understanding and vijnana is practical realization. You can’t give somebody vijnana. You have it yourself, which is great. Vijnana helps to reinforce the theory found in jnana. Yet in this instance it is not until vijnana comes that a difference will be made.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: It’s just the way of the world. I wouldn’t worry so much. There is such a nice foundation here. Many children never even hear of the Bhagavad-gita. Their elders and everyone around them reinforce the idea of material sense gratification being the ultimate objective of life. No one knows any better. At least you have the higher understanding to offer.
Friend1: You’re saying that eventually the vijnana will come?
Friend2: It’s not guaranteed, but at least there is jnana. This is why practicing the regulative principles of devotional service is so important. Even if your mind is elsewhere, simply by immersing yourself in a specific culture, albeit reluctantly, you have a great chance for advancement.
Friend1: I’m assuming that chanting is the most important of these principles?
Friend2: Hearing and chanting. You can accomplish both by repeating the maha-mantra out loud: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. He’s already hearing from you and others. If he engages in chanting, there will be a benefit. In this age especially high philosophy is not so much appreciated. How can it be when the focus is on the latest technology? How can it be when there is no focus at all? Mired in the mode of passion, everyone jumps from one desire to another. With hearing and chanting there is some steadiness, and advancement will come, even for those who don’t accept the higher knowledge at first.
So mired in material desires are you,
How from my experience to get through?
Jnana the knowledge theoretical,
Also vijnana, the practical.
The first to others I can give,
But the rest from experience to live.
Through devotional culture foundation setting,
Paving way for Krishna realization getting.