“We say that presently the soul is in a sleeping state, and we are telling the soul, ‘Please wake up! Please wake up! You are not the body! You are not the body!’ It is possible to awaken the human being, but other living entities cannot be awakened.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Beyond Illusion And Doubt, Ch 15)
Spiritual life is difficult. Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that the living entities in this world are struggling. They are part of Him. The Sanskrit word is amsha. This is like an expansion. The word mam is also used, which means that the expansions come from Krishna.
The struggle is due to conditioned life, interacting through the six senses, which include the mind. Because of this struggle, doing what is beneficial is more difficult than the opposite. Something as simple as getting up in the morning is difficult for someone who has no motivation. The lack of motivation is never due to a single factor; sometimes even the successful and wealthy lack motivation.
Reviewing some of the things that are very easy to do helps to identify what should be done. Do’s and don’ts. The ultimate positive activity is rekindling the forgotten relationship with the Supreme, who is mercy personified. He is always ready to welcome us back with open arms.
1. Criticize others
This is the easiest thing to do. You just have to look at somebody. If they are successful, criticize their arrogance. “They don’t know what failure is like.” If they are a failure, you can criticize their lack of success. If you can’t find anything to put down right away, then complain about how perfect they are.
This tendency towards criticism is compared to the behavior of a crow. The crows remain around garbage, while the swans are associated with pure objects, like the lotus flower. The goal of the human existence is to become more like the swan and less like the crow.
2. Give up
Go to the library. Look for the section on quitters. Can’t find it? No surprise there. No book is necessary to teach someone how to quit. Giving up is easy because it is simply the lack of effort. No one needs to be taught how to fail. Write a book on perseverance, strength, and leadership, and you could make millions.
Spiritual life is about getting up. Referencing the mission of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings jiva jago. “Wake up, conditioned living entity. Spin no more on the wheel of suffering, the cycle of reincarnation.” Athato brahma-jijnasa. “Now is the time for inquiring about spiritual matters.”
3. Avoid contemplating the purpose of life.
Seized by the day, frozen captive by the night. During the day tend to responsibility after responsibility. Then at night, sit back, relax, get intoxicated, and eventually fall asleep. Repeat the pattern day after day, week after week, year after year. Never even get close to contemplating why things are the way they are.
Indeed, the human form is meant for no other purpose than to delve into the nature of an existence, to take up spiritual life. That is the benefit to the advanced intelligence. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending can be done in other forms of life.
4. Follow what everyone else is doing
“If everyone is eating meat, just go along. If they enjoy getting intoxicated after work, why are you going to be different? It’s not worth the trouble. Go along to get along.”
Indeed, to follow spiritual life means to put a target on your back. You will be different for the mere fact that you are trying to escape from the cycle of birth and death. Spiritual life is the light of knowledge, while material life is the darkness of ignorance. Conditioned souls are here due to a choice to associate with darkness; this means that the followers of genuine spiritual life will always be in the minority.
5. Don’t ask questions
Even in many religious traditions, too many questions are not welcome. Accept such and such as the savior. Then move on. Nothing more to see. Do you want to suffer in hell? Then don’t delve too deep. Trust in the word of God. Have faith.
The more difficult path is to challenge everything. Not just skepticism for skepticism’s sake, but genuine inquisitiveness. Arjuna picked probably the worst time to bring up the most challenging questions in life. He was on a battlefield, ready to begin hostilities in a war of amazing size and scope. His charioteer, Shri Krishna, was ready to go wherever Arjuna directed.
Krishna instead became the teacher for a brief while. He was the guru to the worthy disciple, Arjuna. Indeed, in genuine spiritual life all questions are welcome. Bring every doubt to the table. Don’t leave unsatisfied. Surely, God cannot be understood through mere logic and mental deliberation, but at least get clarification. Follow the guidelines and recommendations. Take the bhakti challenge and see your life dramatically improve. Start today with the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The bhakti challenge take,
For better future to make.
Different from rest easy to do,
Like criticizing and following too.
Or questions never to ask,
Consumed by daily repeating task.
Spiritual life difficult for sure,
But rewarded those who endure.
Categories: the five