“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)
शरीरं यद् अवाप्नोति
यच् चाप्य् उत्क्रामतीश्वरः
वायुर् गन्धान् इवाशयात्
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti
yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
Friend1: I’m not sure if this is true with everyone, but when introduced to a new saying or expression, I often don’t contemplate the actual meaning for a while.
Friend2: You mean you don’t understand why it is used?
Friend1: Most of the time, I understand. I get the proper context. It is just I don’t think of the actual situation. I might even use the saying myself in the future, but it doesn’t mean I have thought of the situation.
Friend2: Give me an example.
Friend1: Here is a recent one. “Arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”
Friend2: Oh, I have heard that before.
Friend1: Based on the context in which it was spoken, I understand it to be a substitute for, “Don’t waste your time.”
Friend2: Right. What you are doing is pointless.
Friend1: Then one day I decided to sit and think about the words. You gain a deeper understanding. The Titanic refers to the ill-fated luxury boat ride. If you are fixing how something looks on a boat that is about to sink, you are wasting your time.
Friend2: It might be a little grim, but the saying gets the point across.
Friend1: It got me to thinking. Wouldn’t that expression apply to everything we do in life?
Friend2: What makes you say that? You think that everything we do is pointless?
Friend1: In the long run.
Friend2: Waking up in the morning certainly isn’t without value. Feeding yourself on time. Getting an education during youth. Taking care of people who need help. Working for a living.
Friend1: Okay, but this body is destined for a Titanic-like ending. We cannot escape the onslaught of time. Kala always wins. No one has defeated it to this day, though try they have.
Friend2: Let me get this straight. You are saying that just because a person is destined to die, everything they do in life is a waste of time. The entire effort is futile?
Friend1: I am asking you. How is my claim not true?
Friend2: For starters, there is rebirth. If you do nothing now, you will do nothing again. The conception of life carries forward, like the air with aromas. Someone is baking blueberry muffins downstairs. I am far away from the origin, but the air has brought the aroma upstairs. In a similar manner, my consciousness will move forward to another place after death.
Friend1: Even more evidence to substantiate the comparison. Why am I going to waste time right now if I have to move on at some point?
Friend2: Because you will always have to move on, regardless. If you do nothing now, you will be doing nothing again in the future. Rebirth is not guaranteed.
Friend1: It isn’t?
Friend2: It is better to say that rebirth does not have to take place. If you use the human birth for the purpose of paramartha [long-term gain] then everything that you do is worthwhile. Even your lamentation in the past few moments moves forward a higher objective.
Friend1: How is that?
Friend2: Because you are reaching a higher understanding, through a meaningful conclusion. You are advancing the level of consciousness. If we have a pure consciousness at the time of death, then rebirth stops. It could be something as simple as knowing the transcendental nature to the janma and karma of Shri Krishna.
जन्म कर्म च मे दिव्यम्
एवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः
त्यक्त्वा देहं पुनर् जन्म
नैति माम् एति सो ऽर्जुन
janma karma ca me divyam
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so ‘rjuna
“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)
Friend1: In other words, spiritual life is not a waste of time. Even a little effort goes a long way. It has a lasting impact.
Friend2: Lasting to a factor that we cannot measure. Take the most brilliant scientist and ask them to solve the equation of eternal life in blissful service. They will have a difficult time comprehending. Anything outside of spiritual life is a waste of time, for the moment. If that waste of time eventually becomes part of your story of liberation, then the past gets corrected. It is a little difficult to understand, but with time we will come to know.
In time coming to know,
How everything worthwhile so.
Since of liberation prime directive,
That past behavior corrective.
In way of spiritual life thrust,
Where now in Krishna to trust.
Of His true nature found,
Where not like with karma bound.