“Whenever a devotee wants something from Lord Vishnu, Lord Vishnu first of all considers whether such a benediction will ultimately be good for the devotee. Lord Vishnu never bestows any benediction which will ultimately prove disastrous to the devotee, He is, by His transcendental nature, always merciful; therefore, before giving any benediction, He considers whether it will prove beneficial for the devotee.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 33)
1. Say “no” to everything
“Seriously, whatever they ask me, I answer in the negative. I make the joke that the wife and children should only hear one word: no. I can’t tell that to most people, since it will get me in trouble. But think about it. Is the wife ever happy? Whatever you give her, whatever request you agree to, she will still yell at you later. Am I right?
“The same applies to the children. They don’t know any better. Take the situation of a power outage. The news likes to give warnings about a variant to some disease they can’t even isolate in a lab, yet they fail to mention the tornado that is about to pummel the area.
“The people are shocked at the resulting damage. Power lines down. Trees about to fall into the street. The utility company says that it will be weeks before everything is back to normal. The adults freak out, for sure, wondering how to do basic things like eating and sleeping without electricity.
“The children, however, are fine. They think it is great fun to sleep on the floor in a single room, with everyone together. They might be upset for a moment or two that the television won’t turn on, but they go on with their day. They are living in renunciation without even knowing it.
“Why would I want to spoil that party by giving them things all the time? Just say ‘no.’ That is the policy every parent should adopt. It will do wonders in the long run.”
2. Say “yes” to everything
“Honestly, I don’t even bother. I have so much going on throughout the day. It is a mountain of responsibilities. Whoever says we are living in advanced times is either a total fool or a complete liar. People in the past had it much better, if you ask me. Farm for a few hours a day, store up food, and then just chill.
“People are so addicted to intoxicants precisely because they have insufficient energy for dealing with the mountain of tasks to complete each day. It gets to be depressing after a while. Anyway, this is the life I am currently stuck in, so complaining won’t do much.
“The last thing I need is a nagging child, knocking on my door throughout the day. Therefore, whatever makes them happy I will generally do. If they like playing at the park, I will sit there for hours with them. If they like to eat pizza, we will have that for dinner every night. If they eat nothing but ice cream, at least they are consuming something.
“Don’t blame me; I’m just being honest with you. This is how I cope. You try living a day in my shoes. You wouldn’t last. You would go back to your room, lock the door, and binge-watch television shows. I do not have that luxury.”
3. Apply discrimination
It is interesting to learn that this is the approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead takes. We are all His children in the sense that He is the original, seed-giving father of the universe. The material nature is like the mother.
मूर्तयः सम्भवन्ति याः
तासां ब्रह्म महद् योनिर्
अहं बीज-प्रदः पिता
mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir
ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā
“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.4)
He is in the highest position of responsibility. His decisions can literally move mountains. If He makes a mistake, the worst outcome possible can be realized. To add to the complexity, everyone is approaching Him at some time or another. If viewed as an inbox on an electronic mail system, the folder would be flooded each morning.
The Vedic tradition describes a multitude of divine figures. These are empowered beings, celestials, who assume a high post that carries some large responsibilities. Others are able to worship and ask for benedictions.
The rules are quite simple. Provide sufficient payment in the form of worship and adherence to procedural grounds of the ritual, and you will get what you want. No questions asked. You could be the worst human being on the planet, with a desire to violently depopulate the earth, and the demigod will not apply a filter.
This helps to explain the distinction with the Supreme Divine Being. He too can offer benedictions, but He is not beholden to any practice or payment. He does not have to sell me anything. Rather, He applies discrimination. He assesses the future impact of the reward. If it will do me harm in the future, He will not agree.
Weighing both sides of the equation, a wise person will always choose God the person. Vishnu may disappoint me from time to time, but that is due to my shortcomings. I have yet to see things clearly, to understand the larger picture. His eyes are everywhere, and in the devotional approach He compassionately looks out for me. Such kindness can never properly be repaid, except to always repeat the holy names with love: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Though previously to curse,
Considering to be the worst.
Thanks now for saving me,
And my wellbeing to see.
For all those approaches made,
And selfishly homage paid.
Only the Supreme Lord this way could,
That most love for me understood.
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