“In Kali-yuga, the duration of life is shortened not so much because of insufficient food but because of irregular habits. By keeping regular habits and eating simple food, any man can maintain his health. Overeating, over-sense gratification, overdependence on another’s mercy, and artificial standards of living sap the very vitality of human energy. Therefore the duration of life is shortened.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.10 Purport)
1. Typing in the same password
This is really annoying. The administrators in IT implemented a new password policy for all users. We have to change it once a month. Oh, and your new password can’t bear any similarities to something like the previous ten that you’ve used.
How is anyone supposed to navigate this? Whenever the change goes in, I have to think long about a new password. Then I usually write it down somewhere, which is another security violation. But that’s just between you and me.
The biggest issue is that after the change I still keep typing in my old password when logging in. Force of habit. It takes a while to break free. I hate it. I don’t see a way around it. Every month, the same routine.
2. Taking the old exit
The employer recently shifted offices. The new building is in the same city, but my autopilot mode while driving is still programmed to the old place. For the last week I have been taking the wrong exit off of the highway. Then I have to turn around to get to the new office. It is really annoying. I wish I could remember, but the habit controls me.
3. Reaching for that soda
I have read the studies. I know the impact, especially a few hours later. I get jittery. I get annoyed. I feel like screaming at people. Then there are the withdrawal symptoms. If I don’t have a soda during the day, I get this terrible headache at night. It is the absolute worst.
What can I do? It is a force of habit. While dealing with the stress at work, I reach for a can of soda. The caffeine supposedly keeps me going, but I know that the sensation is short-lived. Later on, I will pay for the mistake. I keep swearing off the stuff, only to find more excuses to stay with the addiction.
These situations can transition very well to bhakti-yoga practice. In the highest stages the engagement is spontaneous. There is the concept of bhava. This is Divine ecstasy not tied to any motivations. There are no expectations of reciprocation and neither is there a specific goal in mind for the future.
The devotion to the Supreme Lord essentially becomes the meaning of your very existence. The issue is that the bhava stage is difficult to reach. There are rules and regulations implemented in the beginning for a reason.
They are for breaking the worst habit of reliance on maya, which is illusion. Follow the four regulative principles so that the new normal, the standard operating procedure, is free of anarthas. These are unwanted engagements. They are not profitable to the spiritual seeker.
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य
ग्लानिर् भवति भारत
तदात्मानं सृजाम्य् अहम्
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
The most important routine to create is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Make this the go-to activity. Get in the habit of reading sacred texts such as Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam. Hear God’s direct instruction as well as descriptions of the various times He has descended to earth in the personal form.
At least on a weekly basis try to visit a place of formal worship. Have a regular appointment with the Divine in His archa-vigraha, the worshipable form. These new habits will bring so much benefit. The person in bhakti-yoga will be well on their way towards liberation.
Habits difficult forsaken,
So my direction mistaken.
Like at wrong exit turning,
Back to other office returning.
The new password forgetting,
Required again resetting.
Better with bhakti routine made,
An appointment for obesiances paid.
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