“Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.14)
सततं कीर्तयन्तो मां
यतन्तश् च दृढ-व्रताः
नमस्यन्तश् च मां भक्त्या
satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ
yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ
namasyantaś ca māṁ bhaktyā
It’s not just about giving up stuff because someone tells you to. It’s not about torturing yourself for the sake of winning a reward only to be witnessed in the afterlife. There is a science to it. Jnana coupled with vijnana. Taking the knowledge first and receiving confirmation through practical application.
It is possible to choose spiritual life after careful consideration, upon weighing the different options. The behavior of a person on the path of transcendence may seem odd, out of place, or unnecessary, but there is strong evidence at the foundation. Indeed, a similar change in behavior already takes place after some knowledge and experience arrive.
1. I do not want that candy
In my youth it was almost routine. Every trip to the supermarket with the parents involved choosing at least one candy bar from the checkout aisle. In the early years it was Butterfinger, but after that the affinity was towards peanut butter cups.
As an adult, I want nothing to do with such things. Not that the taste has changed. I would still enjoy it, at first. The headaches afterwards I want to avoid. Damage to the teeth. An expanding waistline so that the clothes for work don’t fit. Trouble getting proper sleep. At the mere sight of candy I now turn away.
2. I would rather not chase after that woman
It’s as old as the universe itself. Men and women come together. There is natural attraction. I am no different in this regard. I see a pretty girl and my behavior changes. You take notice. It must be the same on the other side.
In my youth it was a kind of competition, a way to puff up the false ego, ahankara. See if you can get an attractive person to take an interest in you. Whatever the preferred strategy, find a way. Give compliments. Show off some accomplishment. Go the extra effort.
At this point in life I would never even consider making the approach. The reason? Sure, there is some satisfaction in the beginning, but who wants to be yelled at for the rest of their lives? Who wants the attachment and responsibility? I am fine with where things stand. No justification for screwing things up.
3. I want an inexpensive and inconspicuous automobile
One way to attract attention is to purchase an expensive car. Something that will make others take notice. I’ve seen it where an owner gets stopped in the middle of the road, as others strike up a conversation based simply on the kind of car being driven.
Today, I am fine with something reliable, affordable and anything but eye-catching. The reason is the extra involvement with maintenance. I don’t want to have to worry about someone dinging the side door. I can now park wherever I want. I don’t need to stay far away from others.
One could say that the above examples represent a jaded view, a person who is fussy for no reason. The truth is that the knowledge and experience led to a shift in outlook. Vedic culture operates in the same manner, with one notable exception.
The knowledge is first passed down from authority. There is no requirement to experience everything firsthand, document, and then reference later on. Saintly people from the past either saw enough to gather sufficient material to pass on to others or they accepted the same from their own teachers.
Even better is that the knowledge covers the full span of existence. Not just eating and sleeping. Beyond sense enjoyment, there is information on the afterlife, the kinds of experiences possible and what triggers specific travel.
A person who accepts this information in a formal way is known to have a second birth. They gain the vision of shastra. They observe with the eyes of scripture, thereby knowing what to avoid. There is the positive aspect, as well. Knowing what to do, how to be happy and how to stay that way.
Saintly people stay with the origin of everything, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They remember Him, describe Him, sing His glories and keep Him close by through the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This strong connection, known as yoga, certainly changes the way of life, but everything works out for the best.
All working out for the best,
When saintly person to bless.
Highest wisdom passing down,
Potent that transcendental sound.
So that experience not needed,
Away from danger proceeded.
The shelter of Hari to bring,
Daily His glories to sing.
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