“Chanting Shri Rama’s holy name with love, faith and according to regulative principles will be beneficial for you from beginning to end, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 23)
Friend1: Have you ever seen one of those laser pointers?
Friend2: You mean the pen-type thingies?
Friend2: Sure. You have one?
Friend1: I was thinking about them. They were popular in school.
Friend2: High school or afterwards?
Friend1: In college. Like in a big lecture hall. Did you ever have classes in those?
Friend2: Oh, sure. Especially in the first few years, where the class sizes are larger.
Friend1: A room like that could hold over five hundred students.
Friend2: Yup. It must be different today, with the advancements in technology. People bringing their laptops, smartphones, tablets and the like.
Friend1: In one of my classes there was a prankster that would bring a laser pointer. He would aim the red light right onto the forehead of the teacher. Everyone was giggling, but the professor had no idea why.
Friend2: That is funny. Yeah, those pointers are like that. They shine a bright light on a very small area, discreetly.
Friend1: You know, people use them to play with animals also.
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: If you point the laser at a random area, a cat will chase after it. Then you simply move the light someplace else. The cat will keep going, running from here to there.
Friend2: Some people would say that is animal cruelty.
Friend1: Hey, I’m not the one doing it. Anyway, isn’t it interesting that the cat never figures out what is going on?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: The cat will chase the light, day after day. Each time it only stops when it gets tired. It doesn’t realize that the owner is playing a trick, that the light is really nothing.
Friend2: That’s true. It’s called animal instincts for a reason. The human birth is distinguished in this way, but only if certain training takes place.
Friend1: Are you saying that we are like the cat and the laser pointer in some ways?
Friend2: In a lot of ways. There is no doubt about it. Prahlada Maharaja refers to it as chewing the chewed. Others call it the wheel of suffering, samsara-chakra. Try one thing, with a specific objective in mind. There is either success or failure. In both cases real happiness doesn’t result, so the same is tried again, and again, and again.
Friend1: Sort of like with drug addiction?
Friend2: That is an egregious form, but you don’t have to go that deep. With drug addiction the cycle is obvious, but take kama in general.
Friend1: Material desire?
Friend2: Yes. Call it lust, too. Take the person who marries multiple times. Each time there is a bitter experience, but the expectation is that the next time will be different. I eat so much today, swearing off rich foods going forward, but rarely does the behavior change. Keep in mind, this cycle continues up until the time of death, and then with rebirth the same starts again.
Friend1: We are more intelligent than the cat, though. We should be able to figure out the pattern.
Friend2: The knowledge is there within us, but it takes someone on the outside to pry it out. That someone is the spiritual master, the guru. That is why in praise of him, wise souls remark how they were previously in the darkness of ignorance. The guru shined the torchlight of knowledge to rescue them.
Friend1: We could say that one description of the guru is the person who helps me to recognize the repeating pattern of attraction and aversion, like and dislike, all encompassed between birth and death.
Friend2: He goes beyond that, hopefully. He shows that there is a true reality, an experience that doesn’t have to be bitter. Just like the object of service Himself, the experience is ever increasing in freshness and bliss.
Friend1: Bhakti-yoga. Devotional service. Be devoted to God. Stay always conscious of Him.
Friend2: Proof is there. Do devotees ever get tired of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare? Do they ever get tired of hearing Bhagavata-katha, discourses about the Supreme Lord? It’s not silly behavior, either, like the cat with the laser pointer. It is the most important work, and as Goswami Tulsidas says, it is beneficial from beginning to end.
When efforts towards God to send,
Then bliss from start to end.
So even the past seeing purification,
And of future karma nullification.
Be not like cat the laser chasing,
Where next day memory erasing.
From guru showing the way,
Begin transformation today.