“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)
बहूनां जन्मनाम् अन्ते
ज्ञानवान् मां प्रपद्यते
वासुदेवः सर्वम् इति
स महात्मा सु-दुर्लभः
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
“Wouldn’t you agree that sanatana-dharma is a little difficult to follow? It’s surely not as simple as the other popular faiths around the world. I understand that shraddha, faith, is an integral aspect to assimilating the teachings, but there is much more than just accepting a savior and losing worries over the afterlife.
“It is indeed a culture; an all-encompassing one at that. From top to bottom, beginning to end, head to toe, animal to human, birth to death – covering everything. Remarkably, the teachings are so old that no one can accurately date them. Scholars and researchers speculate, but no one actually knows. Even within the stories, found in the Puranas, the time references are relative, as in a long time ago.
“How would you reach out to people who are concerned with the difficulty? They come across terms like the living entity, the material nature, eternal time, transmigration of the soul, the three sources of misery, the variety in heavenly and hellish planets, and so forth. It is overwhelming, too much to process.”
1. Rome wasn’t built in a day
The idea is to use something incredibly complex as the point of reference. A magnificent city. Full of architectural wonders. Beauty embedded everywhere; no detail too small to ignore. In the beginning stages who could have imagined the amazing finished product?
A great city isn’t built in a day. That is certainly saying something. Time and perseverance. Hard work. Dedication. Building using components. Brick by brick. Area by area.
The reference to Rome also conveys significance. It is not building something unimportant. You are creating one of the major cities of the world, to be admired not only by the people of the time, but also future generations.
2. Good things come to those who wait
This is a tag line from an old television commercial selling ketchup. The idea was that if the other brands of ketchup poured too smoothly out of the bottle, it meant that the taste wasn’t as good. With the particular brand in question, you had to wait a little bit before the sauce poured out.
The delivered product is worth the sacrifice in time. The investment pays off. If you want something important, you will likely not receive it so quickly. But your patience will be rewarded; rest assured.
3. Patience is a virtue
Hence patience is considered virtuous. A less-intelligent person is stubborn, insisting that everything be delivered immediately.
“I want it all and I want it now. Don’t make me wait. I refuse to sit around forever.”
If you are patient, things might work out in your favor in the long run. If you otherwise rush into something without properly considering the importance of the possible outcomes, you might be left with something you regret after the fact.
4. There is a light at the end of the tunnel
Just keep digging. One more mile. Don’t focus on the finish line. Stay within yourself. Pacing. Slow and steady wins the race. Be confident that the ordeal will end at some point. You might not even realize that you are complete, if you stay focused enough.
The same truths become evident through studying the difficulty in learning new things. Walking, talking, speaking a new language, writing, mastering calculus. Who has actually learned these things in a single day?
The generally accepted impression with the Vedic culture is that there are many lives to reach perfection. Sinful activity, papa, is like going backwards; regressing. Condemned to a lower species in the subsequent birth. Pious activity, punya, is like progressing, moving closer to the finish line.
Shri Krishna confirms the difficulty in Bhagavad-gita. He says that a person surrenders unto Him after many births. It is rare to find such a great soul, mahatma. This is because there are so many barriers towards success. Too many distractions. I can take my interest in countless directions and satisfy the allotted time in this body. For instance, I could sit in front of the television for the rest of my life, if I wanted.
Thus the difficulty in understanding the higher concepts is understandable. The difficulty accompanies the value of the reward. If I want to be free of birth and death, I have to work at it. If I want to remain spiritually aware, the consciousness needs to be in the right place. It must then stay there, without deviating.
All of this is not to say that success must only arrive after a significant amount of time. It could be an instant, one second, that changes my outlook forever. I could make all of the past births successful today, if I wanted, by chanting the holy names and giving up bad association: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Good things to those coming,
Where purified becoming.
When in bhakti life seated,
Not by illusion defeated.
Complex and deep the teachings,
But necessary for impact reaching.
After many births finally found,
Krishna and to eternity bound.