“The Vedas prescribe two different types of occupation for the human being. One is called the pravritti-marga, or the path of sense enjoyment, and the other is called the nivritti-marga, or the path of renunciation. The path of enjoyment is inferior, and the path of sacrifice for the supreme cause is superior.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.2.6 Purport)
The relationship with the Vedas is to accept an entire culture. Not merely faith. No following blindly, with a quick way towards prosperity, without having to work for it. Not based only on ancestry, where the parents present a way of life and then the subsequent generations follow.
Accept with some conviction. Be convinced of the path. One of the components to that way of life is known as nivritti. It is the way of renunciation, vairagya. Give things up, but not merely for posterity’s sake. Not just for winning acclaim or a contest, such as seeing who can hold their breath for the longest time under water.
As if inherently understanding that genuine religion carries some restrictions, the interested parties may raise objections. They do not see the need for self-inflicted punishment, but we find that in so many areas of everyday life a little bit of detachment brings benefits quickly.
1. Not interacting with that person who upsets you
Some people compare it to prison. There is the not-so-affectionate term of “the rat race.” Sitting in an office for five days a week, eight hours a day, for year after year until enough money is saved for retirement – that seems to be the only way to earn a living in the modern day.
One of the accompanying aspects that may present a challenge is interaction with colleagues. In an office environment there will likely be other people performing similar tasks, present for the same amount of time.
This one particular person has a negative influence on you. It is not that they are a bad person. They are engaging in innocent conversation, but for some reason you seem to get upset after talking to them. You end up comparing your life against theirs, and envy sometimes springs up.
Lately, however, there hasn’t been a problem. You’ve been working from home. It is an arrangement out of necessity, and you thought that you would miss going to the office. In fact, it is the opposite. So many thoughts no longer arise. You are more at peace, and the sole cause is disassociation.
2. Not checking social media
Some call it an addiction. You turned to it on a regular basis as a means of taking a break in between difficult tasks at work. Soon you were checking more frequently. These are people you rarely see in person. Yet their updates on social media tend to have an influence on you. Particularly the posts boasting of a certain accomplishment, the included hashtags irritate you that much more.
Recently you went overseas for a vacation. As the coverage area was limited, regular browsing of the internet could not take place. At the same time, you didn’t feel the need. You were more relaxed. No envy. No getting upset over trivial issues, things that had no material value. It was like the previous experience was entirely in illusion.
3. Tuning out the news
Similar to the association with social media, the news always gets you upset. It seems like only the criminals get elected to office. You hear politicians say outrageous things and you can’t believe that ordinary people would support them enough to emerge victorious in elections.
Sometimes you calm yourself down by reminding yourself of the fact that most people don’t pay attention. They hear sound-bites here and there but actually remain clueless to real legislation and its impact. This is one of the flaws with democracy. The vote of the ignorant person counts just as much as the vote from one who is fully aware of what is going on.
Again, simply tuning out the news has such a positive impact. No need to argue with others, either, for you are not aware of the issue which they wish to debate. You don’t feel compelled to correct them or to harbor resentment for their ignorance.
A person who takes up bhakti-yoga seriously may be accused of isolating themselves, of giving up, but in fact they are searching for real and lasting happiness. Ananda is only possible through the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Everyone already follows Him in all respects.
ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते
तांस् तथैव भजाम्य् अहम्
मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः
ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
“All of them – as they surrender unto Me – I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.11)
The difference is that bhakti-yoga is connecting directly with Bhagavan. The indirect connection is through the illusory energy of maya, which brings so many miserable conditions that are unnecessary. Paired with vairagya is asakti for Krishna. Detachment for attachment’s sake. Those who are attached to Him can know Him free of doubts.
To give up things why?
Seems needless to try.
Better to enjoy this life,
With jobs, family and wife.
But value seen already,
Of disassociation steady.
To entire maya principle apply,
And on attachment to Krishna rely.
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