“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.3)
कश्चिद् यतति सिद्धये
यतताम् अपि सिद्धानां
कश्चिन् मां वेत्ति तत्त्वतः
kaścid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ
kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ
“The verse from Bhagavad-gita explaining how few people even endeavor for the pinnacle of spiritual life certainly doesn’t serve as a glowing recommendation. I mean, can you imagine if someone offered the same appeal for another task?
“They say to you to not even try going to college. You see, most people drop out within a year. Then out of those that graduate, barely anyone will make it through to the doctorate level. You would think that discourages people from trying. At least any intelligent person would feel that way.
“How is it not the same with understanding Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Out of those who do manage to strive for perfection, barely anyone will know Krishna in truth. Think about that for a second. Sitting in a cave somewhere, the remotest of remote locations. Working away from civilization, barely engaging the senses.
“You manage to complete the training regimen. You have control over eating and sleeping. You realize that this universe comes from a single source and that there is intelligence behind every action. Creation, maintenance and destruction. Nothing is done randomly. The same intelligence is embedded into every nook and corner of the creation. There are so many places man has yet to discover, but the same phenomenon will be true.
“Why even try? Why not hopelessly give up and live like the animals? At least they are not condemned in the sense of a failed endeavor. They never knew about it to begin. They simply lived out their term in a particular body and moved on to the next lifetime.”
The idea is not to discourage, but rather to highlight the difficulty in understanding spiritual life to the complete factor. God is inconceivable, achintya. He is simultaneously greater than the greatest and smaller than the smallest. He is within the atom and also far away. He arrives in the mind as soon as I think of Him, and at the same time I feel like I am never close enough to get Him within my grasp.
As His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains, God is not so cheap a thing. He will not appear on command. He is not forced to reveal Himself whenever called upon. He is not a decoration to a room and neither is He the order supplier to the person with unending desires.
To know Him in truth is difficult, but not impossible. Material life is full of failures in this regard. The good fortune of the person striving for perfection should not be underestimated. I am so lucky to have at least been exposed to the culture of genuine spiritual life. I could have wandered aimlessly for lifetime after lifetime. I could have remained miserable, desperately searching for long-term happiness in a place destined for destruction.
Rather, through the wisdom of Bhagavad-gita and related works I have the ability to stay with the Supreme Lord. He is already inside as Supersoul. He is my constant companion, birth after birth. We have spent many lifetimes together, though it feels like I am only recently discovering His position and standing within the universe.
I may not succeed in this lifetime, but at least I can try. At least I know what the proper objective is. Maya might get in the way. My own fears might keep me tied down into a false sense of security, choosing worthless pursuits that shield from the pain of ultimate failure.
But in the back of my mind I still understand that Krishna is standing there, waiting to forgive the immeasurable time spent in forgetfulness. Simply abandon all varieties of dharma and surrender in full. That is enough for escape from the cycle of birth and death. Know Him through the vision of others, who are aware of the truth and bold enough to proclaim it to those who are desperately in need, such as myself.
Willing to concede,
That in desperate need.
To finally come to the light,
And no more in ignorance to fight.
Willing for missteps to account,
But at least some effort to mount.
See that Absolute Truth with me,
And how kind and merciful is He.