“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.34)
मन्-मना भव मद्-भक्तो
मद्-याजी मां नमस्कुरु
माम् एवैष्यसि युक्त्वैवम्
man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam
Friend1: This question relates particularly to the modern-day situation. I get that in the past you could be a real sannyasi.
Friend2: What does that mean?
Friend1: Take to the renounced order of life. Formal entry into the fourth and last ashrama designated for the human being.
Friend2: What is an ashrama?
Friend1: A spiritual institution. The human being should belong to one at all times. That is another point of glorification for the Vedas. They want the best for people. They never leave a gap, where ignorance can take hold. Always be progressing towards the higher goal. There are four ashramas assigned. Sannyasa is the last one, the final step.
Friend2: And what do you mean by “formal entry”?
Friend1: It means that everyone will identify me as a sannyasi. I have renounced the world. I no longer work for a living. I am something like a homeless beggar, except by sober and rational choice. I don’t stock up for a rainy day. I don’t make plans for the future. I don’t have a bank account or a luxury apartment. I can’t go begging in places where I expect to receive a lot of charity in return. The most important rule: no intimate association with women.
Friend2: Those are a lot of stipulations. How are you supposed to follow so strictly?
Friend1: That’s why I’m saying it’s difficult in the modern day. You can’t really be a sannyasi; at least not in an industrialized nation. You need some way to support yourself. To set up shop in another’s home, to park yourself on their couch while they go to work and put food on the table, is not an option.
Friend2: It violates the rules of sannyasa.
Friend1: My main question is about meeting someone’s interests. We know that the human life should be about God consciousness. Take advantage of the intelligence that nature gifted us. Go beyond the life of the animals, who know only eating, sleeping, mating and defending. The idea is to meet Bhagavan’s interests instead of my own.
Friend2: If you even come to that realization, if you are aware of the need, you have made significant advancement.
Friend1: The question is how to know what the interests of the Almighty are. He is the all-attractive one, Shri Krishna. God is a person. The impersonal side is there, but to make advancement in contemplating that aspect is difficult.
क्लेशो ऽधिकतरस् तेषाम्
अव्यक्ता हि गतिर् दुःखं
kleśo ‘dhikataras teṣām
avyaktā hi gatir duḥkhaṁ
“For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.5)
Friend2: I would think that it’s not so difficult to figure out the interests.
Friend1: Okay, let’s list a few activities. Is my going to work every day meeting His interests? Is my shopping for clothes, calculating appropriate vacation time, taking care of children, buying a new car, or renovating the home meeting His interests?
Friend2: Could be.
Friend1: I don’t want to deal with “perhaps” and “maybe.” I want to know for sure.
Friend2: This isn’t too difficult. Krishna advises Arjuna to always think of Him. Become Krishna’s devotee. Work in a renounced spirit. That is the same as sannyasa, you know.
Friend1: But who can actually do that? We work with cause. I want money. I need a place to live. My spouse has certain expectations and desires.
Friend2: You follow the first recommendation to achieve the second. Always think of Krishna. Become His devotee. Then you will automatically be renounced, no matter what you are doing. The Bhagavad-gita is spoken on a battlefield. Arjuna serves Krishna’s interests by fighting in a war. Win or lose, Krishna is pleased.
Friend1: Right, but can I do the same? If I take up arms against a hostile force, am I pleasing Krishna?
Friend2: You could be. It all depends. The action has to be sanctioned. There has to be a link in consciousness. Material desires have to be absent. The spiritual master, the sanctioning authority for the present time, reveals that the simplest way to meet the Almighty’s interest is to always chant His names in a mood of surrender: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
For a second let’s be real,
That not working sannyasa appeal.
Because who renounced can be,
Without utter poverty to see?
Then in work interests should meet,
But maya’s illusion to cheat.
When spiritual master to confide,
On proper solution to guide.