“Krishna consciousness can be attained in one second, or it cannot be had even after a thousand births and deaths. If we choose, we can immediately become great souls by surrendering to Krishna, but because we have doubts whether or not Krishna is actually the Supreme we have to take time to dissipate these doubts through study of the scriptures.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Raja-Vidya, Ch 7)
Material life is one attachment after another. With attachment comes separation, which is unwanted. The inevitability of the separation is so well-known that there is fear even before the loss occurs. What goes up must come down, and so death is the certain outcome following birth.
Spiritual life is for breaking free of the attachments. Success is not easily achieved. Even if a person removes objects around them and the need to possess them, there is the chance of a rise in false ego. It is something like saying, “I am so proud of how humble I am.”
Genuine spiritual life is known as dharma in Sanskrit. Though there are slight variations to the definition based on context changes, dharma can only be one. That original and eternal dharma is also known as bhakti-yoga, and there is a purifying effect throughout various durations of time.
1. An entire lifetime
Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that a person finally understands Him after many births and deaths. The time spent doesn’t necessarily have to be in the human form. Each body type corresponds to what we call “species,” and there are varying levels of enjoyment, intelligence, and tendencies.
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)
Human life is meant for spiritual fulfillment, for meeting the needs of the individual at the core. In this regard an entire lifetime can be spent in bhakti-yoga, which is also known as devotional service. Serve in one or many ways, including chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
This duration of time is ideal for bringing the best end, that of the pure consciousness at the time of death. Practiced from beginning to end, there is an excellent chance at eliminating sinful activities, sinful desires, and attachment to temporary objects.
2. During adulthood
Children enjoy playing. They seek short-term enjoyment, known as preyas. Adults tend to put their focus on shreyas, or the long-term benefit. After spending many years playing with toys and video games, a light bulb goes off.
“What am I doing with my life? What is the meaning to everything? What is the purpose to living?”
Though it’s difficult to teach an old dog new tricks, so to speak, adulthood is the perfect time for starting bhakti-yoga. Even though so much time has already been lost, the purifying effect remains. The same chanting is just as effective. The effort made to avoid the four pillars of sinful life brings just as much benefit.
3. For one hour
Usually there is more work to do during adulthood compared to childhood. There are so many responsibilities to meet on a daily basis. There may not even be time to inquire into spiritual matters, which is the one question the human being should be asking. Athato brahma-jijnasa means that in the human form of body the time is ideal for making an inquiry into Brahman, which is the spiritual nature.
Perhaps through a chance meeting with a person on the street the opportunity arises to attend a sadhu-sanga, or meeting of saintly people. The meeting is for just one hour, and during that time there is sankirtana, which is congregational chanting, and Krishna-katha, or discourses about the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Afterwards the person returns to daily life, to struggling with the six senses, which include the mind. Still, that one hour is purifying. It brings sukriti, or meritorious credits, that will pay dividends at some point in the future.
4. Five minutes
Take the same situation of a sadhu-sanga meeting, but this time a person shows up late. They only catch the closing kirtana, where there is raucous participation in the singing of the holy names of the Lord. The experience is blissful. Though it ends too soon, there is a purifying effect.
5. One second
Just say the name of Krishna one time. That’s all it can take. The entire consciousness can change for the better and remain so going forward. Bearing this in mind there is no excuse not to take up bhakti-yoga. So many lifetimes have been spoiled already. Each life contains a significant amount of time. In spite of the many mistakes we have made, everything can be corrected today, right now, with attachment to the holy name.
Many lifetimes already spoiled,
In attachment and aversion toiled.
From this species to that,
Never bliss for soul to match.
Bhakti worthy for entire life when,
Or adulthood, hour, or second then.
Since with Krishna benefit coming,
Chance for purified becoming.
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