“Again and again the day comes, and this host of beings is active; and again the night falls, O Partha, and they are helplessly dissolved.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.19)
Friend1: What is the best thing to work for?
Friend2: What do you mean? As in what is most beneficial for me? That is an easy question.
Friend1: Well, you hear people talking about having a passion in life. That is the way to avoid depression. Be passionate about something.
Friend2: Yes, you definitely hear that.
Friend1: Would that relate to the mode of passion, rajo-guna, as described in Vedic literature?
Friend2: Absolutely. A one hundred percent match. The reason the teaching is there from the self-help gurus is that the mode of passion is higher than the mode of ignorance, which is essentially doing nothing.
“O son of Kuru, when there is an increase in the mode of ignorance madness, illusion, inertia and darkness are manifested.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.13)
Friend1: From my understanding the mode of ignorance is regression.
Friend2: Yes. Going backwards. You’ve made it through the evolutionary chain of species. There are so many different body types. Moving. Nonmoving. Small. Large. Living in the air, on land, or in the water. Intelligent. Not so much so. Standing tall for thousands of years or quitting the body a few days after birth.
Friend1: And the human life is the most auspicious.
Friend2: So take hold of the chance. Don’t go backwards. Why waste the opportunity? In that sense the mode of ignorance is the worst thing you can do. Murder. Intoxication to a ridiculous level. Sleeping all the time.
Friend1: Those are indications of tamo-guna, but what is the benefit of rajo-guna?
Friend2: The end result is a neutral state. You’re kind of tricking the mind. There is passion about something. The something is the result. The issue is that the result does not remain forever, and so again the passion has to be stirred. Again and again, the cycle repeats, something which Prahlada Maharaja refers to as chewing the chewed.
Friend1: Back to my original question. What is the best thing to work for? Would it be sattva-guna, the mode of goodness?
Friend2: That brings elevation to the higher planets. Sattva-guna is pious behavior. Think following religion. Remaining clean. Avoiding sin. Following the guidance of an expert on the spiritual science. Staying level-headed. Not being swayed by the ups and downs found in the life of passion.
Friend1: So that is the answer? I know you’re going to say bhakti.
Friend2: You know that I am going to say it, but do you know why?
Friend1: Because devotion is at the core. Because we are originally part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, who is an all-attractive, ever-youthful person. We fell to the material world due to desire to enjoy separate from Him. This is the original sin, if you will. We don’t know when this fall occurred. We cannot trace out every previous lifetime, nor is it a worthwhile endeavor.
Friend2: You don’t even need that lengthy an explanation. We can keep it in the context of this discussion. Work in devotion is the best because it produces permanent results. Do you understand that even heaven crumbles?
Friend1: At the end of a cycle of creation.
Friend2: Yes. Everything manifests. It remains for some time. Then it gets destroyed. The living beings who are not purely God conscious go into an unmanifest state. They return when the time for the next creation arrives. In this way know that everything that we work for will get destroyed. Even the reward for pious behavior, elevation to the heavenly realm, will not be a permanent stay. What goes up, must come down, including the heavenly realm.
Friend1: There is a higher place, right?
Friend2: The spiritual world. Bhakti is work that leads towards that imperishable realm, where the Supreme Lord in the personal form resides alongside His eternal associates. It is eternal life in an eternal body, with no dichotomy between spirit and matter. A replica of that place can be created even while in the temporary world. That is another amazing aspect to bhakti-yoga. You can be liberated even before death, such is the potency of the Supreme Lord and the things that represent Him completely, like the sound vibration of the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
In mode of goodness pious and humble,
But even heavenly residence to crumble.
Since under devouring time,
To destroy everything of mine.
To body, to mind, to houses owned,
Everything in material world known.
Work in bhakti the best results to make,
Life of devotion not even time to take.