“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)
मात्रा-स्पर्शास् तु कौन्तेय
तांस् तितिक्षस्व भारत
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya
tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata
Friend1: You often hear His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada talk about the need to accept one’s allotment in life.
Friend2: In terms of? Food? Clothing? Shelter?
Friend1: I guess necessities or maybe things that you would enjoy. I wish I could remember the exact verbiage. It is in the neighborhood of the discussion about over-endeavoring.
Friend2: Oh, as in trying too hard for something?
Friend1: That is how I understood it. Basically, if you already have one house, why do you need a second one? Why keep jumping from job to job if you are steady and secure in the one that you have? Why look for another partner if you have sufficient happiness in the current relationship?
Friend2: This is a world of duality, after all. For every one of these cases, you could legitimately argue either side.
Friend1: I understand the basic premise. Just take what life gives you. Don’t try to change too much. You can try as hard as you want, but sometimes success won’t happen.
Friend2: Nature will get in the way. Another person might interfere. Things that are out of your control.
Friend1: I think this point is a little difficult to sell to a new person. They might equate it with blind faith.
Friend2: As in?
Friend1: For instance, someone thinks that by praying their diseases will go away. Medical treatment is not necessary. If God wants us to heal, He will take care of it.
Friend2: I see. But that is a little naïve, don’t you think?
Friend1: Of course, but I am saying that is the impression people might take away when they hear the teaching about not over-endeavoring.
Friend2: You don’t need to go to such an extreme to understand. Let me ask you something. Have you ever experienced something horrible and something great in the same day?
Friend1: You mean both ends of the spectrum? Really good and really bad?
Friend1: Actually, that just happened to me.
Friend1: The other day. I needed to get a photo inspection done on my car.
Friend2: What is that?
Friend1: I wasn’t sure at first, either. This is different from the annual inspection required by the state.
Friend2: Oh, okay. That is the one I am familiar with; emissions test and the like.
Friend1: This is for insurance purposes. You get some place to take photos of the car, just to make sure there isn’t any ridiculous damage that would need to be fixed right away.
Friend2: I see [no pun intended].
Friend1: Anyway, it wasn’t easy to find a place that would take the photos. They have to be approved and assigned by the insurance company to perform such a task. I finally found one that was near where I live.
Friend2: How long does the process take?
Friend1: I was thinking it would be a few minutes. Anyway, I called up the place beforehand and they said to come on over. I did just that and had a horrible experience.
Friend2: What happened?
Friend1: First, there was hardly any parking. I went into the office area and it was ridiculously tiny. There was a seating area next to the counter, but I stood up and waited for someone to greet me.
Friend1: No one did. I stood there for like twenty minutes. Then, the person behind the counter finally asked what I was there for. She seemed upset that I wanted to get the inspection, that I was inconveniencing her. She made some excuse about why I probably didn’t need it done right away.
Friend2: That’s not cool.
Friend1: I was ready to leave, anyway, so I used that as an opportunity to walk out. It was a miserable experience; I don’t know why bad customer service bothers me so much. I am never going back to that place again.
Friend2: What was the good experience, then?
Friend1: When I got in my car, I searched for another place to do the inspection. I found one and called ahead of time, drove over, and they did everything in five minutes. No wait. No rudeness. I was so happy to have gone there. I felt so good about it, afterwards.
Friend2: There you go. Hell and heaven in one day.
Friend2: And so there was nothing you could do to create or alter the situation. You got to experience both without trying. Shri Krishna explains to Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita that happiness and sadness arrive in the same way, like the seasons. We just have to tolerate.
Friend1: Okay, but won’t people use that as an excuse to not work? I at least put in the effort to look for another place to do the inspection.
Friend2: That is fine. Of course you should do the work necessary, but don’t worry too much if things don’t go well. If you have a bad day or two, they will be balanced out by some really good days. The key is to look for something lasting, something permanent.
Friend1: How do I find that if I am just tolerating what life throws at me?
Friend2: Spiritual happiness. You should certainly strive for this. That is the reason for our vibrancy. We are alive to meet this lofty goal, which has thus far remained elusive. Follow your prescribed duties. Do enough to maintain body and spirit, but always keep the primary focus on pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is known as Mukunda because He is the giver of liberation.
Not too far to extend,
Both heaven and hell to send.
Maybe even in single day,
No work or having to pray.
The extremes learn to accept,
That life’s flow to expect.
Steady on the spiritual path remain,
And eventually higher realm attain.