“Now hear, O son of Pritha [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.1)
mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha
yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ
asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ
yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu
Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, advises Arjuna to hear from Him. What is the benefit of that hearing? A person can know Krishna in truth, free from doubts. Is hearing all that is required? It is the first step, but there are requisite conditions. Arjuna should have a mind attached to Krishna. Arjuna should be fully conscious of Krishna.
How will those conditions be created? Actually, the hearing itself can lead to the transformation. It is the first process out of nine mentioned in a famous verse from the Shrimad Bhagavatam spoken by a five-year old boy, the wise son of the king Hiranyakashipu.
Simply hear about Krishna described from authority. Authority is someone who follows in the line of devotion of Arjuna, who accepts the proper information from their teacher, processes it, and then passes it on. After hearing, share with others what you have heard. Don’t speculate. Don’t cheat the innocent. Just tell the truth, that the living entities are spirit soul at the core and due to their nature they are intimately tied to Krishna, who is the Supreme Soul. The existence of that relationship necessitates eternal and selfless service to God, who reciprocates with His causeless mercy.
Jim was discussing these matters one time in an email exchange with his friend. The friend thought that hearing was too simplistic, that for knowing God there should be something more complex involved. He was more sympathetic to the path of mysticism, involving sitting postures, breathing exercises, and strict renunciation. Jim gave an example from his own life to help get the point across.
I’m telling you man, hearing is ridiculously powerful, beyond our ability to comprehend. I know people who have accidentally heard the sound of the maha-mantra being sung and had it change their life. They were walking on the street and they heard, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” and nothing was ever the same for them.
We’re talking about spiritual matters, but hearing has the same effect in other places. Do you remember that year when I was really into the Olympics? I’m sure you do, because I even got tickets and went to some of the events. You were making fun of me, since you thought the sports were kind of silly. You couldn’t understand the appeal of events like ski jump, speed skating, and snowboarding.
What you may not remember is the trigger for my sudden interest. At the time my portable music player was broken. That’s what I usually listened to in the car. While I was in the process of searching for a replacement, I started to turn on the radio in the car. I’m not a big fan of listening to music that I don’t know, so I tended to navigate to the talk radio stations.
Anyway, for a few days in a row one of the stations kept talking about the Olympics. They brought up this athlete and that. They reviewed who the previous winners were. They discussed the major events to watch in the upcoming contests. I was barely paying attention, but the sound was still there.
Anyway, when the games started, I still had no intention of watching. But one night I was flipping through the channels and I saw snowboarding, I think it was. They were interviewing one of the guys I had heard on the radio. This guy was supposed to be awesome; a huge favorite to get the gold medal. Next thing you know I was watching for hours. I ended up watching pretty much all the major events. I got hooked to the games simply from casual hearing.
If that can happen with something mundane like sports, imagine the effect in spiritual life. That’s why hearing is stressed so much. Reading is another form of hearing. It’s a way to penetrate through the fog of ignorance and reach the natural intelligence that each spirit has. The soul is sach-chid-ananda, eternally knowledgeable and blissful. That’s hard to see right now, but through hearing everything can turn around.
Quickly to Olympic games to depart,
By hearing interest suddenly sparked.
Even though little attention paying,
Sound within the mind later on staying.
If with material life this way so,
Benefit higher with spiritual know.
From Shri Krishna just a little hear,
And to perfection of life draw near.