“In Krishna consciousness, there is no duality. All that exists is a product of Krishna’s energy, and Krishna is all good. Therefore, activities in Krishna consciousness are on the absolute plane; they are transcendental and have no material effect. One is, therefore, filled with peace in Krishna consciousness. One who is, however, entangled in profit calculation for sense gratification cannot have that peace.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 5.12 Purport)
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that one of the benefits of following Krishna consciousness is that there is no anxiety in the purpose. Any outcome ends up being beneficial.
Shri Hanuman always thought of the Supreme Lord Rama throughout the time spent in Lanka looking for Sita Devi, the goddess of fortune. Arjuna was in pure consciousness of Bhagavan for the entire duration of the great war on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Bhishma was on the opposing side, ready to quit his body from flesh wounds inflicted by the opposition, but he was the greatest winner in thinking of Narayana at the time of death.
This is one way to understand the lack of duality in spiritual life. On the other side, no matter the outcome, there is little chance of peace. This is due to the attention paid to profit calculation related to gratification of the senses.
1. Clipping coupons
You recently had ice cream from a store that opened up only a few weeks ago. Rather impressed by the quality, you describe the visit to one of your relatives. Their response surprises you.
“You went on a Wednesday night? On Tuesdays they have a two for one. Yes, you need a coupon but I could have given it to you. What were you thinking? You wasted so much money.”
You then feel bad for having missed out; at least that’s the assessment from the other side. The next week you dutifully bring the coupon with you on a Tuesday night. Upon approaching the establishment, you are surprised to see the massive line to get inside. There are people all the way into the parking lot.
You can’t turn back now. After all, there is the coupon that must be used. You will be saving money, and friends and family will be impressed. So you wait on line for an hour until you finally get the ice cream. You can’t help but think that the previous week’s experience was more enjoyable, where there wasn’t the added pressure from trying to save a few bucks.
2. Retirement investing
At this new job you finally earn a sufficient amount to be able to save. Since you live in a high-tax state, financial advisors say that one of the best ways to save money is to max out the contributions to the retirement plan. These are exempt from state and federal taxes, technically deferred, and there is the added bonus of the employer match, i.e. free money. Even if you should happen to withdraw early later on and face the penalty, the money contributed by the employer more than makes up for it.
The issue is that you can’t decide on the proper allocation. The investment choices aren’t great. One of them is very low in fee because it is a mutual fund that tracks an index of stocks. This is known as passive investing. You are tempted to put everything into that fund, but then you notice that in certain ten-year periods of the past the annual rate of return was actually negative.
Look at past performance, but how can anyone guess the future? You research to the point of exhaustion. At one point you are ready to scrap the entire idea and just put the money in a savings account instead. After all, there is every chance that you get the investment allocation wrong and end up not having as much as you could have in retirement.
3. Long-haul flights
You are visiting family members living in a country many thousands of miles away; across the world in fact. Your usual choice is to find a flight that goes direct; no stops in between. There is only one airline that does this, and they are not viewed too favorably. The food is subpar, the cleanliness leaves a lot to be desired, and the service isn’t great.
Yet you have made this trip several times and tolerated the difficulties just fine. You rather enjoyed the journey; a nice change from the daily routine. But this next trip is a group one; friends and family accompanying.
One friend says that they have the best deal. Free flights for everyone involved, because of points accumulated from purchases on a credit card. Who can beat free? This seems like the best deal in the world.
The problem is that the journey is rather extended. Several stops, adding many hours to the total travel time. When you finally reach the destination, you swear to never put yourself in that situation again.
“I will gladly pay the full fare next time. I am not going to torture myself to save a few bucks. My health is more important.”
In these hypothetical scenarios there is validity on each side. Why waste money on food? Why not try to get the best return on an investment? Why pay extra money for something that can be received for free?
The material world operates in this way, as what is good for one person may not be so for another. Rain hampers the commute to the office but greatly aids the farmer seeking a bountiful yield at harvest time. Winter removes the opportunity for spending time outside, but the brutal heat of the summer can take its toll.
यो मां पश्यति सर्वत्र
सर्वं च मयि पश्यति
तस्याहं न प्रणश्यामि
स च मे न प्रणश्यति
yo māṁ paśyati sarvatra
sarvaṁ ca mayi paśyati
tasyāhaṁ na praṇaśyāmi
sa ca me na praṇaśyati
“For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.30)
With devotion to the Supreme Lord, any and every effort pays a benefit. Even if I should forget the all-attractive one at some time in the future, He will always remember me. If somehow I can keep Him in the consciousness, He will never be lost to me and neither will I to Him.
With profit calculation a risk,
That better opportunity to miss.
That investments allocated wrong,
Cheaper flight from points but long.
Soon that time wondering where went,
Better if on contemplation spent.
With Supreme Lord who everywhere within,
Close by and even never lost to Him.
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