“As a ripe fruit has no other fear than to fall, so a man who is born has no other fear than death.” (Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 105.17)
यथा फलानां पक्वानां नान्यत्र पतनाद्भयम्।
एवं नरस्य जातस्य नान्यत्र मरणाद्भयम्।।
yathā phalānāṃ pakvānāṃ nānyatra patanādbhayam।
evaṃ narasya jātasya nānyatra maraṇādbhayam।।
Friend1: Are you familiar with the concept of a midlife crisis?
Friend1: I think you always hear about that growing up but don’t really understand it until approaching the age.
Friend2: You mean you have to reach the midpoint of the average lifespan of a human being, experiencing the actual crisis, in order to properly understand it?
Friend1: You realize that you have reached the halfway point. You have lived so much of life already.
Friend2: Though there is no guaranteed future. As soon as a person takes birth, their destiny is death. Shri Rama compares the predicament to that of the ripened fruit. It has no other fate than to fall, and so the overarching fear for the mature human being is death.
Friend1: The crisis, as we will call it, makes total sense. At least to me, I understand why there is some concern over the future. You have lived for so long and there is something lacking. You might even be married with children, pulling in a steady and reliable income, and still feel a deep void.
Friend2: Whatever you have done so far is not enough.
Friend1: To make matters worse, time is running out. You have lived half your life already. Is that all there is? Shouldn’t there be more? Aren’t we meant to experience something better?
Friend2: This is reaching the fruition of the potential for intelligence in the human being.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: We separate ourselves from the animals when we pose such questions, when we make the higher inquiries. The animals never have any sort of crisis precisely because they cannot contemplate to such depths.
Friend1: They live off the animal instincts: eating, sleeping, mating and defending.
Friend2: The crisis, as you describe it, should take place from the time of birth. There should be a great awakening from the beginning.
Friend1: Okay, but that will rarely occur. A person hasn’t experienced enough of life to know that they need something more.
Friend2: But others have! They can explain everything to you. The teachers appearing before them also record and document their experiences. There is no reason to wander blindly.
Friend1: How will someone even be interested in such information at a young age? I don’t see that happening.
Friend2: The entire Vedic culture, in the proper implementation, is based on this premise. The human birth is the chance to escape suffering. It is the best opportunity to decipher the actual cause of suffering, which is repeated birth and death. I have the ability to know who I truly am, spirit soul, and work in such a way that my soul will be happy.
Friend1: That is a little deep for a child to contemplate.
Friend2: We find such inquiries made by Sanatana Gosvami in approaching Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. That is the ideal conversation between disciple and guru. The spiritual master should be able to guide me along such a path that I will no longer feel that time is running out. They will give me eternal life, both in terms of outlook and also the future.
Friend1: You mean the destination after death?
Friend2: How the soul continues to live on. Never was there a time that I did not exist, nor will I ever cease to be in the future.
न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन्
नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतो ऽयं पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)
Friend1: I guess it would be better to have the same crisis early on in life.
Friend2: In whatever time period I learn the truth, that I make the proper inquiries, at least I have gone in the right direction. It is never too late, as even at the moment of death I can make the proper turn towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as Ajamila did.
When even at death’s gate,
To turn never too late.
At midpoint halfway gone,
The lacking life to dwell upon.
Crisis in this way made,
That life soon over afraid.
But in sobriety inquiry make,
Advantage of intelligence take.