“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
अन्त-काले च माम् एव
स्मरन् मुक्त्वा कलेवरम्
यः प्रयाति स मद्-भावं
याति नास्त्य् अत्र संशयः
anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ
“Seriously, it is twenty-four hour surveillance. Imagine you had a support job in IT. Such as help desk or maybe a database administrator working the overnight shift. Most of the time you are not actively involved in a task. Sitting around and waiting.
“At any moment, an emergency can strike. You are called into action. While it appears to be an easy job, try doing it. To me, this is worse than being assigned a task and having the entire day to work on it.
“After experiencing for myself, this is the best way I can compare the job of parenting. Never a moment to rest. I am lucky to sleep through the night, but in the morning I do not want to get out of bed. I know what awaits me. The constant crying. The steady threat of crying. The child and spouse are like an unrelenting tag-team. They are the champions in this household, for sure.
“Prior to the personal experience, I never knew exactly how difficult such a life would be. Forget movies. Forget television shows. Forget any kind of relaxation. I have abandoned every kind of enjoyment precisely because there is never a moment to let your guard down.”
“When you are young, you look up to the people who are older. You think they have it so great. For instance, the parents. They get to leave the house and go to work. They don’t have a strict bedtime to adhere to. They can eat or drink whatever they choose. No one tells them what to do.
“Of course, that is really an illusion. Every person in this world is controlled; something we learn from shastra. There are three sources of misery: from the heavens, from other living beings, and from within. The harsh conditions of an ever-changing world, this material nature that is seemingly impossible to control.
“After having been assigned to childcare, I now envy so many other people. You would think it strange, but I look at the person who gets to work the entire day as being so lucky. I feel this way even if that work is difficult and exhausting, such as the leader of the free world who travels from place to place and is always in the public eye.
“To me, anything is easier than taking care of a small child day after day. Sorry to say, but I don’t think men are cut out for this. I have so much more appreciation for mothers. No one can do what they do. I am not saying that to win points or look politically correct. It is how I genuinely feel.”
“While growing up, I never knew how difficult it was to be an adult. I saw my father going to work every day, coming home in the evening. I knew he had money, so I would naturally ask for things. I didn’t realize the kind of pressure the adults are under.
“This is because others depend on them. It is easier to go through life when no one else’s future and wellbeing are riding on you. You can be a little more adventurous in your movement, taking more risks. Once you have a family to support, no matter how steady things seem, you are always a little concerned that everything will collapse.
“As an example, your tyrannical government could one day deem your industry ‘non-essential’. They close you down, without any prior warning. They don’t notify when the restriction will end. You poured everything into starting up that business, and now you are on the verge of bankruptcy. I appreciate such people more now than I did when I was younger.”
4. Building a house
“You go shopping for a new house. It is a fun process because the possibilities are practically endless. You have a say in where you will live. Especially if you are well-situated financially, you don’t have to necessarily factor price into the decision.
“Just imagine how difficult it is to build those homes. I always tried not to think about that, but recently I saw a television program detailing the entire process. I would never be able to do the same. I get frustrated trying to assemble basic furniture. I wouldn’t have the patience to see through the full construction program, from the foundation to the final planks set in place.”
5. The impact of disease
“You see others in pain and you just hope that never happens to you. But when it does, you appreciate so much more the suffering that others endure. They are able to persevere. They keep going. They are not afraid of what will happen moving forward.
“In the weakened state, you also gain appreciation for the caretakers. The nurses, doctors and scientists who work tirelessly to help heal and prevent moving forward. They must witness the agony and suffering on a daily basis, and they are undaunted, not afraid to tackle the issues head on.”
These are just a few examples where austerity helps to shine the light on what others experience. The same principle applies to spiritual life. Austerity is one of the keys to making the human life a success.
Not in terms of wealth. Not in terms of longevity. Not in terms of basic enjoyment. The success relates to the consciousness and its ultimate purification. Fixing the one thing that if we control we can escape the cycle of birth and death for good.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada declares that the human experience is meant for tapasya. This is the verdict of shastra, and the message gets passed down through the ages via parampara. The spiritual master, the guru, is the latest link in that chain of descending knowledge transfer.
This explains the many rules and regulations. On this day don’t eat until noon. Don’t take grains or beans when the moon is at a certain phase. While eating, limit the focus on the food itself and focus more on the pleasure of the original benefactor, who has given us the chance to experience life, for that chance is for experiencing Him. One who remembers Him at the time of death attains a nature similar to His, where they will always be blissful and knowledgeable.
From experience the same,
Some appreciation to gain.
Where otherwise not knowing,
With personal interest going.
Purpose of austerity just see,
How Almighty related to me.
In His way ultimately to find,
While quitting keeping in mind.
Categories: the five