“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
Friend1: Athato brahma-jijnasa. Now is the time for inquiring into Brahman.
Friend2: The non-differentiated spiritual energy.
Friend1: What would be the differentiated version?
Friend2: It’s a vision, actually. Nothing changes the factual situation; all is the same on the ground, so to speak. It’s like when we say the sun is out. The sun is always there. Simply the cloud cover is absent at that particular moment.
Friend1: What is this vision, then?
Friend2: Where you see distinctions, vishesha. You see the spiritual energy, but in a divided way. You think that the human being has a different kind of soul than the animal. You think life is lacking in places where it is found in abundance.
Friend1: A kind of ignorance, then.
Friend2: You could say that. Brahman unifies everything. When I understand Brahman I know that I am no different from you. I quickly lose the great sympathy I have for people less materially prosperous than myself. I no longer feel envious of the person who supposedly has everything. I am consciously aware of how living in a material body is like being in a bubble, as Shri Hanuman describes.
“Whom are you lamenting for when you yourself are pitiable? Why do you pity the poor when you yourself have now been made poor? While in this body that is like a bubble, how can anyone look at anyone else as being worthy of lamentation?” (Hanuman speaking to Tara, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 21.3)
Friend1: The human life is meant for this purpose. The athato word implies that the moment has arrived. A sense of urgency. Previously, the opportunity may not have been there.
Friend2: There was an existence in the past. We didn’t just come from nowhere. In a different kind of body, like that of a plant or fish, there was little chance to become Brahman realized. The material elements covering the spotless spirit soul were too inhibiting.
Friend1: Okay, this is a good foundation for the question today. The human birth supposedly brings more auspicious material elements to cover the soul. Specifically, the subtle element of intelligence has a higher potential.
Friend1: The thing is, in the beginning there is only potential. The infant cannot learn about Brahman. They cannot even communicate with words.
Friend2: Only crying and smiling.
Friend1: Then there is childhood. Again, more learning of the basics. They likely won’t understand what is Brahman.
Friend1: Yet the teachers of the truth, tattva, travel to different venues to discuss the very need for realizing Brahman, the spiritual energy, and more.
Friend2: They are merciful in that way. They are not obligated to share what they have learned, to accept the challenges of those who are against God and the concept of service to Him.
Friend1: The audience is not uniform, however. Different age groups, which means people in different stages of life. How to adjust the message so that everyone benefits from hearing?
Friend2: Well, there is nothing to really adjust. The truth is the truth. You can teach “two plus two equals four” to any person.
Friend1: If you want to go the math comparison route, there is also algebra. The student in first grade can learn two plus two, but not algebra.
Friend1: Then? What benefit will a young audience member get from hearing about Brahman?
Friend2: And if you tailor the message to them, by describing heartwarming and amazing stories relating to the Supreme Brahman, Shri Krishna, then the more mature audience members may not get what they are looking for.
Friend1: Exactly. You see the issue, then.
Friend2: Well, I see why you think it’s an issue. In reality, the same teachings will benefit everyone. Take an important verse from the Bhagavad-gita, where Krishna describes the changing body. This is applicable to every person. The one in boyhood will see that the body is destined to change; there is a glimpse of the future. They may try to validate the facts by observation. The elderly man on the verge of death learns that there will be something going forward, that the soul will not die.
Friend1: That is true. I remember seeing the famous changing bodies painting when I was a youth. I could understand it mostly, and I especially remember seeing how a person gets shorter when they get older.
Friend2: See. There you go.
Friend1: That image stuck with me my whole life, even though I only glanced at it briefly.
Friend2: Vedic teachings are like describing so many such images. The three modes of nature. The four varnas. The four ashramas. The three sources of misery. The different kinds of devotional service. The obstacles placed in the path of devotees. How to call for help. How to have firm belief in the guru and the person they represent, the Supreme Lord. These teachings are really for everyone. Even if you can’t understand everything immediately, there is a benefit to hearing. The process is a kind of yajna, or sacrifice, for which the enjoyer, Yajneshvara, the Lord of sacrifice, takes pleasure.
Vedas with variety in concept,
Some simple, others complex.
How for all audiences to fit,
Where not losing interest to sit?
Truths with power their own,
Benefit from hearing alone.
Adult confident of future to be,
Child curious for validation to see.