“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda or the giver of mukti, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoofprint. Param padam, or the place where there are no material miseries, or Vaikuntha, is his goal, not the place where there is danger in every step of life.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.14.58)
समाश्रिता ये पदपल्लवप्लवं
महत्पदं पुण्ययशो मुरारे:
भवाम्बुधिर्वत्सपदं परं पदं
पदं पदं यद् विपदां न तेषाम्
samāśritā ye pada-pallava-plavaṁ
mahat-padaṁ puṇya-yaśo murāreḥ
bhavāmbudhir vatsa-padaṁ paraṁ padaṁ
padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām
Friend1: Have you ever had to change a tire?
Friend2: On a car?
Friend1: Yes, such as after getting a flat.
Friend2: I have been in the situation requiring such a change. Many times, in fact, but I never did the work myself.
Friend1: Is there a reason for that?
Friend2: I don’t know how. At least I think I don’t. There was either someone with us who did or we made a phone call to a local service that helped us out.
Friend1: Oh, like one of those auto-club memberships?
Friend2: Yes, back in the day, but now most of these car companies offer roadside assistance for free if you buy a new vehicle from them. Actually, some of the repair places offer the same service if you get new tires from them.
Friend1: I found myself in such a predicament recently. You don’t realize the danger of the situation until you are stranded on the side of the road, feeling helpless.
Friend2: You didn’t call someone?
Friend1: I did, but it took a few tries. Still, being on the side of the road, on a major highway, you see and hear just how fast everyone is passing you. It gets you to thinking. One small mistake by a driver and you are finished.
Friend2: Especially considering that everyone has smartphones now. If they get a text message that they feel needs to be answered, their attention could get diverted.
Friend1: I was lucky that my issue occurred in the daytime. What if it was at night, where visibility is significantly less? I escaped without a problem, but I can’t forget the danger. This could happen to anyone. What if it was someplace that had poor cell phone reception?
Friend2: Absolutely. You could be out in the middle of nowhere, on a road-trip. You could have young children with you, crying in the backseat. It could be extreme weather, as well.
Friend1: The middle of winter or under the scorching heat of the sun. This certainly reminded me of spiritual life and the teachings on how dangerous this world is. I think there is the verse from Shrimad Bhagavatam which explains.
Friend2: It says that there is danger at every step. No one is safe. At every moment we are vulnerable to the three sources of misery: from the heavens, from other living beings, and from within. Shri Hanuman compares the deha, the body, to a bubble, which can burst at any moment:
शोच्या शोचसि कं शोच्यं दीनं दीनाऽनुकम्पसे।
कस्य कोवाऽनुशोच्योऽस्ति देहेऽस्मिन् बुद्बुदोपमे।।
śocyā śocasi kaṃ śocyaṃ dīnaṃ dīnā’nukampase।
kasya kovā’nuśocyo’sti dehe’smin budbudopame
“Whom are you lamenting for when you yourself are pitiable? Why do you pity the poor when you yourself have now been made poor? While in this body that is like a bubble, how can anyone look at anyone else as being worthy of lamentation?” (Hanuman speaking to Tara, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 21.3)
Friend1: It puts things into perspective; for me, anyway. I will not boast about the type of car I have. Even if it is top of the line, I know that in a split second everything can change. The same goes with comfortable living at home. A good job, a loving family, supportive friends and neighbors. What do I really gain from that?
Friend2: The key is to bring everything together. While the world is full of danger, for one who has surrendered to Mukunda, the giver of liberation, the vast ocean of suffering shrinks to the size of a hoof-print left by a calf.
Friend1: That is amazing, if you think about it.
Friend2: To us it is amazing, since we are so helpless. For Narayana it is not much effort at all. He generates, maintains and destroys the infinite universes through His breathing. Why would it be so difficult for Him to change the nature of our experience here? He is the greatest well-wishing friend and we can use whatever we have in life to honor Him on a daily basis.
Since punctured by nail,
Front tire to fail.
Now stranded motorist sight,
With setting sun to fight.
Danger in every case the same,
Began when to this world came.
While in samsara battling wave,
Mukunda my fortunes to save.