“O Lakshmana, do you rule this earth with Me. You are like My second self, so this glorious opportunity has been presented to you as well. O Saumitra, do you enjoy all the pleasures you desire and the fruits of the regal life. My life and this kingdom I covet for your sake alone.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 4.43-44)
लक्ष्मणेमां मया सार्धं प्रशाधि त्वं वसुन्धराम्।
द्वितीयं मेऽन्तरात्मानं त्वामियं श्रीरुपस्थिता।।
सौमित्रे भुङ्क्ष्व भोगांत्स्वमिष्टान्राज्यफलानि
जीवितं च हि राज्यं च त्वदर्थमभिकामये।।
lakṣmaṇemāṃ mayā sārdhaṃ praśādhi tvaṃ vasundharām।
dvitīyaṃ me’ntarātmānaṃ tvāmiyaṃ śrīrupasthitā।।
saumitre bhuṅkṣva bhogāṃtsvamiṣṭānrājyaphalāni ca।
jīvitaṃ ca hi rājyaṃ ca tvadarthamabhikāmaye।।
Simple conversation. Interaction with other human beings. Rather than staring at a screen the entire day, as if we were perpetually in isolation, this meeting is face-to-face and talking directly to one another. In other words, the old-fashioned way.
News. Sports. The weather. What kind of house you are looking to buy. That new restaurant which opened up in town. How the kids are doing at home. You will be safe with these topics, more or less. The moment you delve outside, to something beyond this life, you will likely face strong resistance.
1. Frustration with illusion
“I am disenchanted. Doesn’t it all seem fake to you? You know, our entire existence. We see things one way, but they are actually not. Something like mistaking a rope for a snake. We seek the approval of others, but who are they, really? Are they not as vulnerable as us? Why should it matter if someone else is impressed by the kind of house I own, for instance? You see what I mean about illusion. I am frustrated with it.”
2. The repeating days and years
“You know, I didn’t notice this until after I graduated college. Think about it. When we are growing up there is constant change. You spend the first five years after birth playing, but no one really remembers that. Then you have to go to school, but you are promoted through the grades.
“If you attend college, that is a brand new experience. It is only in adulthood that I started to notice the pattern. Not only do the days repeat, but so do the months and years. Think about that. An entire year went by and it was basically the same experience as the previous year. Did the same things. Suffered or enjoyed the same seasons. Had the same concerns.
“I bring this up because there must be more to life. I refuse to settle for repeating years. Is that all we have to look forward to? I don’t want to live like this for the rest of my life.”
3. The futility of sense gratification
“You mentioned that restaurant you ate at recently, but I’ve noticed that eating simple food keeps me happier. I don’t need to watch television for hours a day, either. It seems that on the days where I am not as engaged in these indulgences of the senses, I tend to be happier.
“Chasing after people of the opposite sex. Satisfying the belly and the tongue. I don’t know. Restriction is the better option. Voluntarily imposed restraint. Living the simpler life, applying to every area we can think of.”
4. The joy of praising the Almighty
“From the books I am reading, I learn that God is a person, purusha. He has features that are known as glories, gunas. We simply have to understand those gunas and then constantly remember them. That is the intent of poetry. Art and music should be directed for the Almighty’s pleasure.
“And no, this has nothing to do with fear. I am talking about transcendental happiness. I cannot tell you how good it makes me feel to glorify God the person. You can do it endlessly. I am serious. Love for your fellow man will automatically increase. It will feel as if the entire world is your family. Who wouldn’t want that?”
Sadly, by openly expressing any of these sentiments, you run the risk of alienating your friends. They will look elsewhere for companionship. Your family might even turn against you. This can take place in an area where God the person is roaming.
Such was the case in Ayodhya, as documented in the Ramayana poem of Valmiki. Shri Rama, an avatara of the Divine, was ready to take over as the next king, succeeding His father, Dasharatha, as per tradition and the will of the people.
Then everything changed. One of Dasharatha’s wives grew envious and she demanded that Rama be banished for fourteen years. No rivalry. No regal life. Roam the forest like a mendicant. Forced homelessness.
Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana saw this taking place and it did not change his outlook on life. He continued to be devoted to Rama. The brothers shared so much love that Rama initially offered to rule the kingdom with Lakshmana by His side. Two kings. A distinct honor that would not be kept from Rama’s beloved follower and protector.
Even if the entire world turned against his elder brother, Lakshmana would still be there by His side. The same is true of Sita Devi, the goddess of fortune. She follows her husband to the ends of the earth, serving in all dharma, and this example is inspiration for all devotees, who know Bhagavan will always do what is best for them.
Potential isolation detention,
When of illusion to mention.
The days repeating how,
Same as yesterday now.
That bhakti life real joy bringing,
How endlessly holy names singing.
The whole world turning against,
But like Lakshmana not to relent.