“The duality of the material world is felt in terms of heat and cold, or misery and happiness. A Krishna conscious person is above duality because he does not hesitate to act in any way for the satisfaction of Krishna. Therefore he is steady both in success and in failure. These signs are visible when one is fully in transcendental knowledge.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 4.22 Purport)
Friend1: Be the change you want to be.
Friend1: Never give in. Keep your chin up.
Friend2: Am I begging for a pep talk or something?
Friend1: Setting the stage for a discussion on life coaches.
Friend1: They seem to resonate with people. Their videos get tons of views on social media websites. They get paid by big businesses to come rally the troops, to speak to the employees, to help increase their productivity.
Friend2: And don’t forget overall wellbeing. It helps to step back for a moment and assess the direction in life. What are you unhappy about? What is good? Maybe you should increase the positive aspects and stay away from the negative.
Friend1: There you go. You sound like one of these coaches.
Friend2: It is not difficult to mimic them.
Friend1: What is your general opinion on the idea?
Friend2: Of a life coach?
Friend1: Or any one of these self-help gurus.
Friend2: Not sure there is anything to think. Good for them. Everyone has to make a living. Some of the advice seems to be useful to me.
Friend1: Okay, but there are some Vaishnava people who get into this business.
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: They read shastra. They accept the shelter of a spiritual master. They undergo training like any other person interested in the spiritual path. They chant the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Friend2: That’s great.
Friend1: Yes, but when they turn to life coaching, they avoid any mention of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They generalize everything. Instead of sharing with the world the detail behind the abstract that they learned through the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam, they do the opposite. They take the detail and turn it into generalized principles, in the hopes of coming off as secular.
Friend2: I see. Non-threatening. I mean if it’s a preaching strategy, that’s one thing. Are you saying that some people would criticize these life coaches as being cheaters?
Friend1: More like thieves. That’s how I see them. They steal from the Vedic tradition for their own benefit, to pursue material interests.
Friend2: Okay, but what about the argument that everyone has to eat? They need a way to make a living. What is the difference between a Vaishnava life coach and a Vaishnava database developer?
Friend1: The database developer didn’t learn anything about their field from the spiritual master. The life coach is taking principles from the Bhagavad-gita and twisting them into generic, sometimes contradictory purposes.
Friend2: Such as?
Friend1: “Make life goals and work hard to attain them.” We know that anything material is temporary and miserable. Even if you achieve a life goal, you won’t be happy. Why isn’t the Vaishnava self-help guru explaining that?
Friend2: I see.
Friend2: That is what I was going to say next. This world is full of duality. What is good for one person is not good for another. It depends on the time and circumstance. With Vedic teachings applying to connecting to and coming closer to the Supreme Lord, upasana, there is no duality. The validity is there in every time period and every circumstance.
Friend1: I know.
Friend2: Not to mention that by becoming a devotee of God the person you automatically acquire life skills. You can tolerate the good and the bad. You remain above the dualities of the material world. No need to become immersed in illusion. By no means should you be teaching someone to stay bound to the cycle of birth and death. This human birth is meant for liberation, for ending the chain of migration that started since before anyone can remember. This existence is meant for service to the Divine; that is the dharma of the soul, which represents the individual.
First from guru learning,
Knowledge of shastra earning.
But then life coach to become,
Making mention of Krishna none.
Only how in duality to stay,
Not considered cheater’s way?
Since of higher purpose to explain,
Of how supreme shelter to attain.