“If one refuses to act under the direction of the Supreme Lord, then he is compelled to act by the modes in which he is situated. Everyone is under the spell of a particular combination of the modes of nature and is acting in that way. But anyone who voluntarily engages himself under the direction of the Supreme Lord becomes glorious.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 18.60 Purport)
1. Do nothing
It won’t matter anyway. Every person has the same fate. We share a common bond. Though we may appear at different times, under different circumstances, we will meet the same end. There is variety from beginning to end. One person is born in a wealthy nation, while another is left to suffer under the cruel hand of dictatorship, which plunders the resources of the country.
One person grows up properly educated. They feel tremendous pressure from the family to succeed in academics. They hear folklore of generations past, of people who finished first in their class and then went on to distinguished careers. The same must be followed; lest they be considered a failure. Comparisons are made to peers, the children of friends of the parents.
Another person grows up without any attention to academics. The omission in discipline relating to reading, writing and arithmetic causes an issue later on in life. When it comes time to finding a job in adulthood, for sustaining a family, this person struggles. They can’t settle upon a career; instead they jump from one employer to the next.
There is similar variety in terms of the experience in family life, travel, non-work interests, and so forth. At the same time, the final destination is never in doubt. Both of the aforementioned people will end up dead. They will be forced to leave everything behind. The target was fixed as soon as birth took place.
जातस्य हि ध्रुवो मृत्युर्
ध्रुवं जन्म मृतस्य च
तस्माद् अपरिहार्ये ऽर्थे
न त्वं शोचितुम् अर्हसि
jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur
dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmād aparihārye ‘rthe
na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi
“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)
Upon learning of this reality, a person might be inclined to do nothing. Why worry about right and wrong? Why be so interested in what others think of you? Who cares about making memories with friends and family? The hard drive gets wiped clean, so to speak, upon exiting the body. Nothing matters, in the long run.
2. Use it as impetus to follow righteousness, honor and duty
The same arguments can be used by the person following dharma. If death is guaranteed, what does it hurt to follow the principles of righteousness, as passed down in the parampara system? What is the harm in worshiping the Almighty on a daily basis, in dealing honestly, in working for a living, in focusing on paramartha?
If the excuse on the one hand is that nothing matters because of impending death, then the same excuse would apply to someone who wants to act in a proper way, based on how that is defined for them. They feel as if they are furthering a cause, in helping others to prepare for the future, which involves living.
A person is compelled to act all the same. They cannot abruptly abandon work and think that there will be nothing to replace it. The superior choice is to act in conjunction with the wishes and desires of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Based on the guaranteed-death paradigm, there is nothing to lose in this proposal. On the other hand, there is everything to gain, based on the testimony of others who have followed the path to fruition. They believed wholeheartedly in the message delivered by the spiritual master, who is the accurate representative of the Divine instructions.
The liberated souls achieved a level of happiness never before believed. They achieved everything prior to death, in fact. They did not have to wait for the end to get a glimpse of eternal life. The doubts on how to proceed were removed. They were no longer morose on the prospect of quitting the body, for they were assured of eternal association of the all-attractive one, who gives confidence to those who are struggling, such as Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
What have you got to lose?
If dharma option to choose.
Destination agreed the same,
But possible everything to gain.
If what others say is true,
That eternal are me and you.
Then the shelter of Vaikuntha found,
Where glories of Almighty abound.
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