“It is said, ‘Man proposes, God disposes.’ Thus a person may desire many things, but unless these desires are fulfilled by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they cannot be fulfilled. Fulfillment of desire is called satya-sankalpa.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 8.16.22 Purport)
Friend1: This is a commonly revisited topic, but I always feel the need for clarification. Maybe not so much an explanation, but some encouragement. Support so that I know what I am doing is correct, that there is hope; a light at the end of the tunnel.
Friend2: I take it you don’t want me to bring up the section in the Mahabharata where it advises to give up on hope entirely?
Friend1: Oh man, that’s funny. I’m sure that has to do with material success. A good transition, actually. The issue I raise is for people firmly entrenched in the modern mode of progress. How to convince them of the need for trying spiritual life?
Friend2: Every person should make that inquiry. It is the boon of the human birth. Intelligence is enhanced for that reason only.
Friend1: And not for planning how to stock up on food, water, heating, provisions for a rainy day, etc. I get it. I want others to have the same realization, and not for depressing their outlook on the future. On the contrary, the world of devotion brings endless possibilities, daily renewing enthusiasm.
Friend2: Think of the people considered most advanced in spiritual life, who have made the most progress.
Friend2: Yes. They live completely renounced. By rule, they are not allowed to stock up for the future. Not more than one day’s worth of food.
Friend1: Alright, but if I highlight the life of a sannyasi, wouldn’t that scare people even more? We’re trying to get them to shift towards the spiritual side. If they think they will lose everything and have to become beggars, where is the appeal?
Friend2: The thing is, it is a natural transition.
Friend1: What is?
Friend2: From material to spiritual?
Friend1: How so? What about the hoarding mentality?
Friend2: Eventually the bhoga turns into tyaga. Too much enjoyment leading to withdrawal. Eating at the same restaurant every day. Going to the same office for work. Eventually, you want out.
Friend1: Yeah, but then they just jump to another category of material life.
Friend2: That’s what I am saying. Instead, go to spiritual life at the beginning. Imagine the situation of being successful in whatever endeavor you wanted.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: Take all the desires at present. Happy family life. Sufficient wealth and education. Plenty of opportunity for enjoyment. What would happen if you had success in every one of those areas?
Friend1: That is a great question. I don’t know.
Friend2: You should know. You have to know. The human birth starts with that premise. It is the success of all previous animalistic desires. You have to think of it as getting protection from nature and the great benefactor in the spiritual sky.
Friend2: He is the wealthiest person. I am His child. So are you. So is every living thing. We have a claim to that wealth. This means that there is no reason to fear poverty.
Friend1: Things don’t always work out that way. Real life isn’t so simple.
Friend2: But it is. We are vikalpa, as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains. Our desires do not become true one hundred percent of the time. This is why God is known as satya-sankalpa. Anyway, imagine if you had complete success. Then you would turn to spiritual life. The leaders in the bhakti tradition simply ask to speed up the process. Don’t wait until you see success and feel empty in the aftermath. Take the initiative now. Athato brahma-jijnasa.
Friend1: “Now is the time for inquiring into Brahman.”
Friend2: The Absolute Truth. The spiritual energy. I will eventually get disgusted with material successes. That is guaranteed to happen. Better to save time in that area. Don’t wait until you have more than you need. Take the plunge now. It will benefit you both in this life and the next.
What if always success?
And not failure to depress.
Still feeling empty inside,
Desire for spiritual guide.
Acharya saying right now instead,
Save time rather than later be led.
Of spiritual identity discern,
And in Almighty’s direction turn.