“He who is satisfied with gain which comes of its own accord, who is free from duality and does not envy, who is steady both in success and failure, is never entangled, although performing actions.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.22)
Friend1: Material life is difficult; there is no doubt about it.
Friend2: Some people get a rush from the struggle. If they are not in the game, so to speak, they don’t know what to do.
Friend1: Sure, but there is still pressure. Nothing is ever settled. Even if you find the home of your dreams, there is constant concern over maintenance. You could lose your job at any moment. Illness can strike.
Friend2: Yes, I agree with your overall assessment.
Friend1: Here is the issue to discuss. I know that sometimes followers of bhakti-yoga get criticized for taking the easy way out.
Friend2: Easy? After many births and deaths does a person take a true interest in spiritual life. The easy way is to follow the pack; do as everyone else is doing.
“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.3)
Friend1: You and I both know that, but to others the easy way out is to disengage. Don’t gamble. Don’t eat meat. Don’t drink. Spend the entire day chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Friend2: Indeed, the process looks easy. Just be devoted to God the person. Show it for real. Then everything will be okay. But just see how difficult the decision is to make. If it were so easy, everyone would be following.
Friend1: What about that Teddy Roosevelt quote, though?
Friend2: Which one?
Friend1: The one about how it is the man in the arena who counts. They get dust on their face. It is not the person on the sidelines, the critic, who counts. They are cold and timid souls, who know neither victory nor defeat.
Friend2: That is a good quote, but it’s applicable to the devotees entirely. Like I said, the easy way out is to go for eating, sleeping, mating and defending. The animals follow this route without conscious thought. They don’t deliberate. That’s why it’s called animal instincts.
Friend1: Okay, but let’s say you have a fulltime devotee. Perhaps someone who is living in the temple.
Friend2: Consciousness is what matters. You don’t have to belong to a specific institution to be engaged in service of Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Friend1: Okay, but I’m going with the example where there isn’t work, employment, what have you. Let’s say this person is in India somewhere, living in a cave. Basically, there is no formal job to go to.
Friend1: Isn’t that person out of the arena? Aren’t they walking away from victory and loss? Aren’t they one of the timid souls?
Friend2: It totally depends on the mindset. If you are following bhakti-yoga as such simply to escape from the material world, then sure. It is not a winning proposition. Remember, Arjuna had a similar struggle.
Friend1: Ah, that’s right. He wanted to quit the army before the war.
Friend2: And he made up so many excuses as to why that was the righteous choice. It was really escaping responsibility. Krishna urged him to continue forward, to fight while maintaining the devotional spirit.
Friend1: And don’t be concerned with gain or loss. Be steady in both.
Friend2: Exactly. Another thing to consider is that in bhakti-yoga you are a winner every single day. There is no loss or diminution in this path. It protects from the greatest type of fear.
“In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.40)
Friend1: What about the not having a job thing?
Friend2: There is a job. There is work throughout the day. Chanting is work. So is reading and writing, worshiping the deity, preparing prasadam, and so forth. Just telling another person about Krishna consciousness takes so much courage. Such brave souls are rewarded, as they are very dear to Krishna.
To Krishna becoming most dear,
When discussing without fear.
Chanting, cleaning or reading,
Official employment not needing.
Not path of the easy by any stretch,
Otherwise many in that way set.
Winning daily from Krishna’s grace,
Energy again from smiling face.