“Since it was almost night, and all the inhabitants of Vrindavana, including the cows and calves, were very tired, they decided to take their rest on the river bank. In the middle of the night, while they were taking rest, there was suddenly a great forest fire, and it quickly appeared that the fire would soon devour all the inhabitants of Vrindavana. As soon as they felt the warmth of the fire, they immediately took shelter of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although He was playing just like their child.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 17)
Friend1: Isn’t one of the dangers with following organized religion the vulnerability to overly relying on prayer and faith?
Friend2: How can you “overly” rely on that? What would be the opposite condition?
Friend1: Wherein you acknowledge the existence of a higher power. You believe in God; you are not an atheist. At the same time, you don’t just sit around waiting for miracles. You work towards achieving goals.
Friend2: Are you saying that some people might become complacent, that they will abandon work in favor of prayer?
Friend1: Isn’t that what the sannyasa-ashrama of the Vedic tradition is? You essentially volunteer to become a beggar for the rest of your life. Rely on other people to fulfill the daily needs, viewing the charity as an extension of the Lord’s mercy.
Friend2: Okay, but you are still working as a sannyasi.
Friend1: Are you? Isn’t that only true with the parivrajaka? Other sannyasis might live in a temple or perhaps a cave. They are not necessarily wandering around.
Friend2: Either way, there is still work. Keep in mind that the decision is rooted in intelligence. Intentional renunciation for fulfilling a higher purpose. It isn’t simply staying in bed and expecting God to work miracles.
कार्यं कर्म करोति यः
स सन्न्यासी च योगी च
न निरग्निर् न चाक्रियः
kāryaṁ karma karoti yaḥ
sa sannyāsī ca yogī ca
na niragnir na cākriyaḥ
“The Blessed Lord said: One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic: not he who lights no fire and performs no work.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.1)
Friend1: Alright, so perhaps the sannyasi isn’t the best example. How about this? Let’s look to the pastime where Shri Krishna devours the forest fire in Vrindavana.
Friend1: Understandably, the people were helpless. There was no fire department to call. There was no chance to run through the flames and escape on the other side, safe and intact. They literally had no other recourse than to pray for Krishna’s help.
Friend2: Which He provided. He came through for them in the most amazing way.
Friend1: Okay, so keep the emphasis there. What if someone hears of that incident and decides to look for an amazing rescue of their own?
Friend2: What is wrong with that?
Friend1: Say they are stuck in a fire. Instead of calling the fire department or reaching for a fire extinguisher, they pray to Krishna to help them.
Friend2: Who is actually going to do that? I think you are creating a hypothetical that will never manifest.
Friend1: Someone might; that is my concern. The idea of working versus praying. Which one is better?
Friend2: Operate in such a way that your work is the same as prayer.
Friend1: How do I do that?
Friend2: Do everything for the Supreme Lord. In the emergency situation you mentioned, step up and make an effort. Understand that success will be due to Bhagavan’s favor. He has decided to sanction the intended result.
Friend1: What about in the case of failure? A lot of people turn towards atheism after prayers go unanswered.
Friend2: Either way, up or down, good or bad, high or low – the ultimate governing authority is the same. Not a blade of grass moves without Krishna’s sanction. The real benefit of praying to Him is coming closer, upasana, which is the unique opportunity for the human being. This is the benefit of using consciousness. Connecting our consciousness with Krishna’s is known as yoga.
Not just for result to expect,
Consciousness with Krishna connect.
So that work the same as pray,
Moving always in Divine way.
Not that lazy back sitting,
And from effort permanently quitting.
Then vulnerability to result no more,
Finding yoga this existence for.