“One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.55)
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भक्त्या माम् अभिजानाति
यावान् यश् चास्मि तत्त्वतः
ततो मां तत्त्वतो ज्ञात्वा
bhaktyā mām abhijānāti
yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ
tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā
Here are some interesting questions to ponder as part of a game within casual conversation, to spark lively debate, to see how people think, to learn more about them and what they value in an existence.
1. What if you could only live in one place?
It happens to some people. Notably, those who are sentenced to prison. Confinement has meaning. One area. Maybe not the single cell the entire day, but there is certainly no travel. No connection to the outside world. One place, for the rest of the time spent in this existence.
Where would you go? Pick just one place. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a building. It could be a city. Maybe an open field. The idea is that you would get everything you wanted and needed. The hankering for outside travel would be eliminated because of the preferable conditions.
2. What if you never had to worry about money again?
This is the primary impetus for playing the lottery. Sure, there is the small hope that maybe the large sum of money will facilitate services and experiences otherwise never believed possible. Private airplane travel. Full-time maid service. Expensive automobiles. A home large enough to get lost in. Property suitable for parties, held as often as desired.
The extra benefits aside, the immediate result is lack of worry. Those credit card bills? That mortgage payment? Those clothes you wanted to buy? That leaky roof you’ve been meaning to fix? No problem. If you never had to worry about money again, it would be as if the ATM machine could dispense any amount of money, any time you visited it.
3. What if you were successful in everything you wanted to do?
This question likely requires the most thought. We are outside of the limitations of finance and destination travel. Success here could be anything. Someone who can’t walk at present would be able to. Someone who had difficulty speaking a foreign language would be able to learn in a matter of seconds.
That business venture would be guaranteed to turn a profit. That doctoral thesis would be accepted by the committee at first glance. That player in the professional sport would break all the records and be an instant lock for the hall of fame.
A person might find it interesting that bhakti-yoga has these questions already resolved. That is to say the devotees of the personal God act as if the aforementioned “what ifs” are a reality, at present. This is not the result of hallucination or some exercise at tricking the mind.
Since bhakti is connecting with the Almighty in truth, developing and maintaining a genuine relationship with Him, the lifestyle itself is above duality. This means that conditions of opposites, which lead to likes and dislikes, no longer apply.
Maharishi Valmiki remarks that a devotee can live practically anywhere. They don’t make a distinction between heaven and hell. The key is that they are able to see the Supreme Lord in the visual of their choice, such as with the avatara of Shri Rama standing with His bow and arrow. Others, like the warrior Arjuna, prefer to see God as the two-handed beautiful youth named Krishna.
As explained to Arjuna, God the person can only be understood by bhakti. This is a benefit, since connecting directly with Him through a mood of service will automatically elevate the consciousness to the superior, imperishable realm. As consciousness is the factor changing, the preferred place of residence no longer applies. The devotee always lives in a place like Vrindavana, for example, since they are always conscious of Krishna as the one dear to the cows and the senses [Govinda].
They don’t worry so much about financial impact since they know Krishna is the wealthiest person in the world. He has the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi Devi, by His side, which means that whatever is needed for surviving and thriving in bhakti will be provided. The ideal example in this regard is Shri Hanuman, who lives renounced in his constant glorification of Shri Rama, but is also never without the necessary supplies to carry out that life of pure devotion.
The person in bhakti-yoga is automatically successful in every endeavor. If they should stammer while giving a lecture on the science of self-realization, if they should forget a key ingredient in a preparation placed on the altar, if they should not properly recall a Sanskrit shloka from a sacred text – it is not actually a blemish.
क्षिप्रं भवति धर्मात्मा
न मे भक्तः प्रणश्यति
kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā
na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati
“He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.31)
The mood of devotion is what counts, which means there is always success in pleasing the one for whom the activities are dedicated. Only in bhakti can a loss count as a victory, such as with Jatayu and Bhishma. Only through Krishna’s favor does the life of devotion never perish, as boldly proclaimed by Arjuna.
Never by efforts to be ashamed,
Through Arjuna boldly proclaimed.
That perishing not a chance,
Krishna their efforts to enhance.
Since for His pleasure ultimately meant,
Dedicated time and effort spent.
Chanting and glorifying successful to be,
That knowing supporting is He.
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