“One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.66)
नास्ति बुद्धिर् अयुक्तस्य
न चायुक्तस्य भावना
न चाभावयतः शान्तिर्
अशान्तस्य कुतः सुखम्
nāsti buddhir ayuktasya
na cāyuktasya bhāvanā
na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir
aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham
By no means is this list created or supported through a scientific study. Edge cases here and there surely exist. Exceptions to the rule. Instances that break the pattern. But there can be no denying the initial spark, the desire that drives the progression.
A community goes through phases with respect to advancement. From beginning to end, the change could occur gradually, over several decades, in fact. The acharya of the bhakti tradition of spiritual life is waiting at the completion stage. He has already made it to the end. He is awaiting humble inquiries into the next phase. He would rather the entire time leading up have been avoided.
1. Perceived poverty
There could be one acknowledged super-power nation in the world. The envy of everyone else. Other nations either want to emulate or the citizens want to emigrate. A massive movement of people.
There is a perception of poverty. There may be plenty of food to eat in the community. No one is starving to death. The average net worth calculation may not be high in relative comparison, but the basic necessities of life are there.
Still, who wants to finish in second place? Why not be on equal footing with others? If someone else has more, surely I can do something to influence my position. I can move upwardly. In the worst case, I simply emulate what the other community has done. Take the model of the foreign country and implement it in my own.
2. Improvement in material advancement
Elongated stretches of highway, featuring the finest roads and bridges. Easy transport from one metropolis to another using an airport system. Advanced, fiber-optic technology starting from the urban areas and reaching the rural. Everyone connected, with indoor plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and machines to clean the dishes and the clothes.
It is possible to live in such comfort. It is possible to rise to a higher standard of living, where no one has to go begging from door to door. There is insurance to indemnify just about any loss, including employment. People should not have to worry about the basic necessities of life.
3. Spiritual inquiry
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that when one person or community makes such advancement, the next step is to inquire into spiritual matters. There is the famous saying, “An empty sack cannot stand up straight.” The meaning is that a person is hard-pressed to pay attention to matters of virtue and long-term significance when they are struggling merely to maintain an existence.
If I have all of the money in the world, with no requirement to ever work again, what will I do? Eat rich and sumptuous dishes on a daily basis? Travel here and there? Become addicted to intoxicants? Divorce the spouse and look for a younger, more attractive partner?
It is natural to turn in the direction of spiritual life. Once I have everything, I realize that the chase wasn’t really worth it. I am still lacking the one thing that no amount of money has brought me thus far: happiness.
Shri Krishna explains that there cannot be happiness without peace. And there cannot be real peace without a proper understanding of the temporary nature of material life. Duhkhalayam and ashashvatam. The material world is miserable and temporary. That for which I have worked so hard will not remain so for long.
Better to inquire into the nature of living. Can it be eternal? Where will I go after death? Is the next life the same kind of miserable experience? Will I be fooled into envying other communities and people who are perceived to be superior only on the estimation of material worth?
A person is very fortunate to reach such a stage of inquiry. They should feel blessed to have the spirit of renunciation, which is rarely achieved. And this is real vairagya, since there is so much to abandon. A person who never had any possessions can’t very well explain the experience of disassociation from something to which they were strongly attached.
The acharya is there to guide the people and communities sitting at the final step, he also urges others to not bother enduring the cycle. Better to inquire into spiritual matters right away, as soon as possible. This is the real purpose of the human birth, and through the Vedic culture and works like Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam, the previously elusive peace and happiness become entirely possible.
Lamenting nation’s leader is he,
That perceived poverty to see.
Better another country to emulate,
If not then at least emigrate.
When at enjoyment’s height perching,
Eventually left empty and searching.
To the spiritual side for ties to sever,
To acharya better late than never.
Categories: the three