“Maharaja Parikshit, just after receiving the news of his death within seven days, at once retired from family life and shifted himself to the sacred bank of the Yamuna River.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.19.6 Purport)
1. The big move
“So much stuff. I am getting help. Don’t worry. I won’t have to lift anything heavy by myself. Still, there is just too much to fathom. Consider the cabinets in the kitchen. The drawers in the bedrooms. The linen closet. The storage closet. So many closets!
“There is also the back and forth. Once I make the shift to the new place, some cleanup will be required in the old place. Leave everything in good condition for the next people to move in. Cancel the utilities. Drop the keys at a certain location. Some preparation will certainly go a long way helping to smooth the transition.”
2. The big first day of school
“I have some options here. The traditional route is to enroll the child in a local public school. Everyone else seems to do this. Famous people and those with considerable resources might find a private establishment to be more preferable.
“There is also the option to teach at home. I am seriously considering this one. I think my child will learn more and get a better experience, to prepare for adulthood. There will be social ramifications. People will think our family is weird, that we are somehow depriving our child, that they will not know how to interact with society.
“In truth, I’ve seen kids with absolutely zero social skills who attend traditional schools. They are glued to their smartphone screens the entire day. They watch endless hours of television. I understand nothing is perfect, every choice has its flaws, but some preparation for the long-term will help us with this decision.”
3. The big job interview
“It’s been years. I don’t remember what the first time around was like. I barely knew anything. I only got hired because I knew someone on the inside. It was a favor. The decision worked out, since I was able to contribute to the company for many years.
“I am fairly confident in my abilities at this point, as I have been a professional for a long time. On the other side, who knows what they ask in job interviews these days? It might be a trivia contest, where they want familiarity with obscure issues. They might try to trip me up here and there, to see if they can get me flustered.
“I need to prepare sufficiently. Rehearse answers to questions that I know are forthcoming. Study the technical details so that I will be confident in describing a technology in which I certainly have expertise.”
4. The big race
“You try not to think about the length. Every person I know who has completed one has remarked that they never actually ran such a distance in their training. They worked their way up to half that amount. Then on race day pure adrenaline carried them across the finish line.
“Physical ability is not the only factor here. You can try to train your body to perform for extended physical exertion, but there has to be sufficient fuel inside. Certain foods hinder performance. I can testify to that firsthand, as I am extremely sluggish after eating dinner each night. I will have to make sure to prepare adequately the night before the big race.”
5. The end of the line
This is an area we might not want to think about. We spend so much time focusing on the short-term, on the smaller issues in life, not realizing that the elephant in the room is the knowledge of imminent death.
Sometimes kala will give warning. This is the Sanskrit name for the end of life. Kala also refers to time, and in that sense both meanings are the same. If there is a sudden diagnosis of a terminal illness, if a person just has a feeling that there aren’t many days remaining, they might make preparations.
In the culture descending from the Vedas, the preparation is made from the beginning of life. Everything revolves around the ultimate goal of achieving liberation, which is the end to the cycle of birth and death.
In the case that preparations do suddenly need to be made, there is the ideal example of King Parikshit. He had the most to give up. If anyone would be forgiven for having too many attachments, it would be someone who was responsible for the wellbeing of many others. The citizens were under his care, and so how would that continue if the king had to depart for the next life?
Parikshit renounced everything. He went to sit on the banks of the Yamuna River and hear Hari-katha. The speaker was the most qualified Shukadeva Gosvami. Seven straight days of listening was adequate preparation for the next life.
For the next life to prepare,
Not of death to be scared.
Since destined from birth to leave,
Try for best destination to receive.
Parikshit with the most to renounce,
But for Bhagavatam every ounce.
Simply sitting and properly hearing,
Obstacles to liberation clearing.
Categories: the five