“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)
Friend1: Temporary and miserable.
Friend2: I know where you are going with this.
Friend1: You do?
Friend2: Duhkhalayam ashashvatam.
Friend2: That is the nature of the world.
Friend1: Well, this world.
Friend2: There are others?
Friend1: Three planetary systems. Up, down and middle. Fourteen divisions in total.
Friend2: And where are we?
Friend1: In the middle. The earthly region, featuring both highs and lows. A little bit of heaven, a little bit of hell, and some in between.
Friend2: So life in heaven is not temporary and miserable?
Friend1: It is temporary.
Friend2: But I thought that’s the goal of life. Be good and go to heaven when you die.
Friend1: A region featuring enhanced material enjoyments. Suratarus, or trees of the demigods. Go up to one and ask for something. Then have your wish granted, almost instantly.
Friend2: We can’t stay there forever.
Friend1: It’s part of the material world. Eventually, the pious credits accumulated that convert to time spent run out. Then you have to go somewhere else.
Friend2: What about hell, eternal damnation, and the like?
Friend1: Same concept. Terrible punishments. They are described in vivid detail in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Different kinds of suffering for the different sinful activities. Despite enduring the pain, there is a chance to work your way back up.
Friend2: Well, certainly you don’t want to suffer that way. We suffer right now for our mistakes, even prior to death. Still, we should aim for something higher, not just for escaping punishment.
Friend1: Before we get to that, here’s a question. Everything in the material world is temporary. We could say that these things are perishable.
Friend2: Including the body.
Friend1: Yes. Certainly. Now, just because something is perishable, does it automatically mean it will perish?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: Take perishable food for example. I shouldn’t ship a carton of milk to someone, because in transit it will spoil. Same goes for fruit, bread and other such things.
Friend1: The thing is, if I keep the milk in the refrigerator, it will last longer. There is vacuum sealing to consider, as well. These items are perishable, but they don’t necessarily have to perish.
Friend2: Ah, but they do. That is the great illusion known as maya. We try to make the perishable last forever. It is a futile attempt.
Friend1: It will never succeed?
Friend2: Can’t happen. The world itself is slated for destruction. You obviously know of Lord Shiva. You know of the great fire of destruction. There is a great flood, too.
Friend1: Okay, but that is so far down the line. No one has seen the end, so it’s difficult to believe in.
Friend2: I beg to differ. Markandeya Rishi did, and he passed on his eyewitness accounts.
Friend1: Yes, I know. He saw Narayana in the form of a child as the only person remaining. While the world was being destroyed, God was not affected. He was happily playing, staying carefree.
Friend2: Then? What is the point of this discussion?
Friend1: You know that people will try to prolong life indefinitely. They want to invalidate the rule. They want to do what has never been done before.
Friend2: Hey, have at it. Don’t let me stand in the way. Try, fail, and try again. Do this lifetime after lifetime. This is one of the reasons for the bahunam janmanam ante verse in the Bhagavad-gita.
Friend1: That’s the final word? Nothing will last forever?
Friend2: The spirit soul.
Friend1: The individual. Yes, I knew that, but what about the work that the soul does while tied to the body? Is living just a big waste of time?
Friend2: Work in devotion for the Supreme Lord does not perish. That loving relationship, the strengthened bond, lasts through the time continuum. It is the lone exception with regards to work. That is why bhakti is so much emphasized by the acharyas, the saints thinking on a higher level through fulltime sobriety. It is why Shri Krishna tells Arjuna to boldly declare that His devotees never perish.
As perishable known milk and bread,
But vacuum sealing possibility instead.
For the freshness to prolong,
But force of time too strong.
Since eventually destruction arriving,
What purpose to work’s results striving?
Spirit soul exception, by time not affected,
Permanent work since towards Krishna directed.