“You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.47)
कर्मण्य् एवाधिकारस् ते
मा फलेषु कदाचन
मा कर्म-फल-हेतुर् भूर्
मा ते सङ्गो ऽस्त्व् अकर्मणि
karmaṇy evādhikāras te
mā phaleṣu kadācana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr
mā te saṅgo ‘stv akarmaṇi
Friend1: When we are explaining the science of self-realization, Krishna consciousness, bhakti-yoga, or whatever the preferred term, we assume a certain baseline from the audience.
Friend2: What do you mean, exactly? A physical baseline, as in they are holding an object?
Friend1: Ability. For instance, if we are publishing a book on the subject, we expect the target audience to be able to read.
Friend2: I see. Literacy in the language of publication.
Friend1: I guess you could also add interest to the list of qualifications. The people with whom we are speaking must have some sort of interest in the subject matter.
Friend2: As in searching for more to life, a curiosity for spirituality, wanting to know more about karma, and the like.
Friend1: Then there are the more subtle requirements; ones that we don’t necessarily talk about.
Friend2: Such as?
Friend1: We assume that the people consuming the content have a general desire to work, that they want to be a good person. They have a certain level of respect for their fellow man.
Friend2: Hmm, I never thought about that one before. I guess that applies to when you discuss the different kinds of work and how to deal with the fruits of the labor.
Friend1: For sure. There is a direct quotation from Bhagavad-gita. We have the right to work but not to enjoy the fruits.
Friend2: Yes, that is a popular one.
Friend1: Okay, so we assume people understand that verse, that they apply the teaching to their own life, but what about people who don’t want to work?
Friend2: What do you mean? The unemployed?
Friend1: That might be someone who is looking for work but doesn’t have a job at the moment. I am talking about someone who has made the conscious decision to stay out of the workforce.
Friend2: Okay, but then how will they survive?
Friend1: Their parents.
Friend2: But people eventually move on. They die. Death is guaranteed as soon as you have birth [another teaching from Bhagavad-gita].
Friend1: You sound surprised to hear this, and so was I in the beginning. These people have essentially gamed the system. They don’t have to work because of the wealth of their parents. If they try employment somewhere, as soon as they have a negative experience they quit.
Friend2: Okay, but then you find another job.
Friend1: To them, there is no need. Why take the risk? Stay home, instead. Live off their parents.
Friend2: But not everyone can do that.
Friend1: Who cares about everyone else?
Friend2: Yes, but you are still asking others to make a sacrifice that you are not. They are going out into the world, getting yelled at by their bosses, developing chronic fatigue and illness, just so you can sit around and do nothing.
Friend1: Okay, that is not my problem. My parents have money. I don’t need to work.
Friend2: Alright, let’s say there is a population that meets that description.
Friend1: An ever-increasing population, I might add. How do Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam apply to them?
Friend2: Whatever mode of nature a person lives in, there is always a connection to the Almighty. The science of self-realization is for every person, even if they are mired in the mode of ignorance.
Friend1: How will such a person understand, then? None of the teachings apply to them, based on the lack of life experience.
Friend2: In Kali-yuga people are generally unfortunate and lacking intelligence. They cannot be expected to follow the strict rules and regulations passed down in Vedic culture. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu still rescues them. He has made possible the full and complete perfection of an existence simply through association, such as with transcendental food [prasadam] or the chanting of the holy names [sankirtana]: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
“Working not for me,
Many difficulties to see.
Employment not the way,
Instead at home I’ll stay.”
How then teachings to apply?
On assumption of work to rely.
Mahaprabhu rescuing all,
Even in laziness holy names call.