Can You Explain The Ones And Zeroes Thing About Bhakti

[Sita-Rama]“Shri Rama’s holy name is like a numeral, and all religious practices are like zero. When the numeral is not there, zero means nothing. But when it is present, the resultant value increases tenfold.” (Dohavali, 10)

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नाम राम को अंक है सब साधन हैं सून |
अंक ग_एँ कछु हाथ नहिं अंक रहें दस गून ||

nāma rāma ko aṃka hai saba sādhana haiṃ sūna |
aṃka ga_em̐ kachu hātha nahiṃ aṃka raheṃ dasa gūna ||

Friend1: I have heard His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explain this concept. Not that he is lacking anything in the presentation. He is about as expert as you can get in presenting the timeless Vedanta philosophy to the modern age.

Friend2: Where people are hung up on smartphones. Where they research vital information by going to chat rooms and online forums instead of reading books. Shrila Prabhupada is still able to cut through the noise.

Friend1: Without even being perfect at English; at least when speaking extemporaneously. Goes to show you how much passion and interest matter.

Friend2: It’s the connection in yoga. The sentiment is genuine. He has a direct audience with Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, so naturally he will be able to successfully present complex topics in a way that you and I can understand.

[Shrila Prabhupada]Friend1: One of those philosophical truths is this concept of ones and zeroes. Something to the effect that if you have a lot of ones, in terms of the digit, then the numerical value isn’t great. As soon as you add some zeroes then the value increases exponentially.

Friend2: You have it the other way around, I think. The person starts out with zeroes. We think that they are something.

Friend1: Okay, can you explain further? How can stuff be worthless? For instance, great wealth. Is that a zero?

Friend2: Think in terms of the four desirables in a material existence.

Friend1: Dharma, artha, kama and moksha?

Friend2: Those are the four rewards of living. The desirables are in terms of within the material life itself. Good parentage, sumptuous wealth, sufficient beauty and good education.

Friend1: Okay. Let’s go with that. Those are zeroes in terms of value?

Friend2: If I am lacking God consciousness. Think about it. It is something like winning the lottery in a dream. You feel great. All of your worries now gone. No more stressing over money. No more standing at the bus station in the freezing cold, waiting to arrive at the office for a hard day at work.

Friend1: It would be great.

Friend2: Good parentage is something to be proud over. I can tell others and they might respect me more. If I graduated from an Ivy League university, people will take notice. I might not even have to go job searching. The large companies will recruit me before I enter the workforce.

Friend1: That’s true.

Friend2: They are zeroes due to the temporary nature of an existence, how it is an illusion. There is also the issue of ahankara.

Friend1: False ego?

Friend2: After receiving those four desirables I get puffed up as a result. I think to protect those features first. Spiritual life becomes an afterthought. I am even more of a zero here, because I have fallen into a state of near-atheism, where I completely forget the Almighty.

Friend1: What is the relation to the ones, then?

[Sita-Rama]Friend2: That is when you add Krishna consciousness. Goswami Tulsidas presents the same truth in the Dohavali, when speaking of Shri Rama and religious practices. The holy name is like the non-zero digits. You add that to the zeroes and you suddenly have something of value. Now your good parentage means something. You can rescue the family of ancestors through your service to Vishnu, like with Prahlada. Your good education helps in both understanding the science of self-realization and explaining it to others. Your beauty is used to attract people towards the Divine life. Wealth is spent for lavishly worshiping God in opulence, as He is seen in the Vaikuntha realm.

In Closing:

With abundance to unfold,
But like many zeroes to hold.

Since connection lacking,
No spiritual backing.

But holy name just adding,
Like ones to the value padding.

Then everything with proper connection,
And even opulences for God’s direction.

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