“One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.66)
nāsti buddhir ayuktasya
na cāyuktasya bhāvanā
na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir
aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham
Friend1: Have you ever announced a death on social media?
Friend2: Of all the questions you’ve ever asked me, I think this one takes the cake. Are you out of your mind?
Friend1: No, I’m serious. Have you ever done it?
Friend2: I have not. Looking for advice on what to say? Where is this coming from?
Friend1: Okay, maybe I’m not phrasing the question properly. Have you ever found out about a famous person’s passing through social media?
Friend2: Oh. Now that you mention it, yes. Many times.
Friend1: You realize someone had to post it for you to read it.
Friend2: I understand. You want to know if I’ve ever passed on similar information to others.
Friend1: Yes. I don’t look so silly now, do I?
Friend2: You always do, but I can’t help you with that [laughing].
Friend1: Anyway, I’m sure you’ve noticed something that these posts have in common.
Friend2: What is that?
Friend1: They usually say “RIP” in them.
Friend2: Right. That’s true. Rest in peace. There might be a hash-tag, too.
Friend1: I guess they’re trying to be nice. They don’t know what else to say.
Friend2: They’re essentially wishing the departed person well. Do you take umbrage because of your knowledge of the nature of the spirit soul?
Friend1: There’s that aspect for sure. The soul never dies. A person who has real knowledge understands this. The soul never takes birth and no one can ever kill it. You can have knowledge about so many other things, but that knowledge is essentially useless if you don’t know about the soul.
Friend2: That’s such a unique perspective to have, isn’t it? People would get upset with you on that point.
Friend2: If I have knowledge about how to drive, how is that useless? If I know how to communicate, both verbally and in written word, in a specific language, how can you say that has no value?
Friend1: I should clarify. It has temporary value. It’s valuable until you quit your body. That exit is guaranteed to occur, so you better know something more important if you want to make this life truly worthwhile.
Friend2: I like that. There is the analogy to the ones and zeroes that buttresses your point. Material life is full of zeroes. You can have as many of them as you want, but you still have nothing. As soon as you add a one digit, then you have something. The one digit is God, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The spiritual science comes from Him. Basically, you can make life valuable once you add the spiritual component. Then you can put the knowledge of other things to the best use. There is the verse from Tulsidas that I really like.
“Shri Rama’s holy name is like a numeral, and all religious practices are like zero. When the numeral is not there, zero means nothing. But when it is present, the resultant value increases tenfold.” (Dohavali, 10)
Friend1: I like that. Getting back to the virtual obituary, I’ve sometimes seen people say that they wish for the departed soul to get peace. I’m not sure that’s any better.
Friend2: You want to know what the proper thing to say is?
Friend1: Yeah, like what should we be wishing for?
Friend2: That’s easy. You want them to live in peace.
Friend1: Hmm. What do you mean?
Friend2: The soul is going to live on. The individual has left our vision, but they are going somewhere else. Wherever they go, let them live in peace.
Friend1: That’s interesting.
Friend2: This is a good way to judge the benefit of the progress of material existence. I’m referring specifically to industrialization and technology.
Friend1: In what way?
Friend2: Peace. You want the departed soul to rest in peace, but why not have them live in peace? Any sober person will admit that is a good goal, so why not make the assessment now? Are people living in peace?
Friend1: Hardly anyone is.
Friend2: Exactly. We’re proud of the ability to communicate so easily using a smartphone. Modern medicine can do amazing things. People can survive in the coldest weather using electrical heaters. The majority of the population in industrialized nations isn’t going out to the farm every day and producing their own food. This is advancement. But the true measure is peace. Are people more peaceful today than in times past?
Friend2: That should be the goal. Whether in poverty or opulence, as a child or an adult, a woman or a man, unmarried or married – the objective should be peace. Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that there cannot be happiness without peace.
Friend1: Okay, so how do we get peace?
Friend2: Know three things. The Supreme Lord Krishna is the enjoyer of all sacrifices, the supreme proprietor of all planets, and the best well-wishing friend of every living entity.
jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati
“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.29)
If you think this is too sectarian, then make it generic for the time being. Take the origin of everything and apply the same three features to Him. Really understand this. Work in a way that you’ll always be conscious of it. Then you’ll have a chance to live in peace, for lifetime after lifetime.
Wishing for departed soul the best,
That in peace forever to rest.
The wise something different knowing,
That living spirit to somewhere else going.
Better if wherever to reach,
To always be living in peace.
That benefit even now can feel,
With understanding of Krishna real.