“Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.63)
इति ते ज्ञानम् आख्यातं
गुह्याद् गुह्यतरं मया
यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु
iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ
guhyād guhyataraṁ mayā
yathecchasi tathā kuru
1. Whether someone is rich
“More money than you or I could ever imagine. We think that if the house is paid off, if the kids make it through college, if we can live sufficiently off interest, staying where we are, then we have succeeded. No more struggling through the difficult days at the office. No more waking up prior to the sunrise and rushing to catch a commuter train. No more concern over the company’s balance sheet, over profit and loss from quarter to quarter.
“Well, this person has so much money that they could spend tens of thousands of dollars on hosting parties, week after week. They could fill their bathtubs with champagne and not lose any sleep. They are insanely wealthy and have not a care in the world, though they seem to be upset over what happens to other people within their social sphere. They gossip about the goings on at the latest parties, but to the average person there is really nothing to worry about.”
2. Whether someone is poor
“They beg, borrow and steal to make it. They are not ashamed. They grew up with this mentality. They saw the rich kids who live across the train tracks. Those children always purchase the latest model of popular tennis-shoe. They wear fancy clothes and some even get dropped off to school in style.
“But these other people have it tough. They have to survive in dog-eat-dog territory. They wear clothes handed down from the elders in the family. They can’t spend hours each day watching television shows precisely because there is no television. Both parents work long hours, and the children stay at home unsupervised, in run-down housing.”
3. Whether they are respected and adored by millions
“The highest esteem you can imagine. If they ran for public office, they would likely get elected. Whatever work has been done previously will not be so easily forgotten. Who wouldn’t want such a reputation? This person works to carefully maintain it. They act responsibly, understanding their duty to the public.”
4. Whether they are held in the lowest esteem
“This person has a difficult time showing their face. They are notorious for bad behavior. The latest transgression became national headlines. It is really embarrassing, especially to the family members. The parents have given up trying to justify the behavior. They simply stay away, not commenting on the latest mishap.”
In whatever situation a person finds themselves, if there is a lack of connection to the spiritual way of living, then there is a glaring flaw. Nothing can be done to mask that blemish. Whether they are rich or poor, the outcome is the same. Whether they have the love and support of millions or feel completely isolated, the future is of the same nature.
शरीरं यद् अवाप्नोति
यच् चाप्य् उत्क्रामतीश्वरः
वायुर् गन्धान् इवाशयात्
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti
yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
“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)
The onslaught of time continues. Undefeated to this day, kala has our number. This is the Sanskrit word for time; also applying to death, it has already removed so much. We will never return to the period of childhood. Elders in our family have departed for another world. We will never see them again.
The same fate awaits us, and there is an ability to alter the destination. Based on the consciousness at the time of death, the next birth is of the same nature. If I am missing spiritual life, if I skipped it in favor of temporary interests, then there is a major vulnerability that must be exploited. That is to say the guaranteed end is rebirth.
On the other hand, if I take full advantage of the amenities and benefits associated with the human birth, I have the opportunity to plug the hole immediately. Rather than wait for it to get better on its own, I can fix the problem immediately.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada teaches that three issues in daily life should be dealt with immediately: debt, disease and fire. If these are ignored, they only grow in magnitude and severity. For the entirety of the human experience, the forgetfulness of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the issue of utmost urgency.
Through the fortunate and chance encounter with the spiritual master, I have the opportunity to fix the mistake. Bhagavan, the personal God, is so amazing that by connecting with Him everything I have done wrong in the past changes in nature. That time in forgetfulness becomes part of the story, of the glorious achievement of finding the shelter of the Divine, who is our friend to stay.
Whether rich or poor faring,
Vulnerable flaw glaring.
That at time of the end,
Misery to extend.
Since to another birth sent,
Away the opportunity went.
That gap today I can fill,
Through lessons guru to instill.
Categories: the four