“O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conquerer of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.27)
इच्छाद्वेषसमुत्थेन द्वन्द्वमोहेन भारत।
सर्वभूतानि संमोहं सर्गे यान्ति परन्तप।।
icchādveṣasamutthena dvandvamohena bhārata।
sarvabhūtāni saṃmohaṃ sarge yānti parantapa।।
Friend1: Can you explain the friends and enemies concept again?
Friend2: In what context?
Friend1: From Prahlada Maharaja. Wherein he describes how those two designations are based in duality. They are part of a material existence.
Friend2: Think of a pendulum. Swinging from one side to the other. At one moment you are in bhoga. This is enjoyment. At the other side is tyaga. This is renunciation. We can also think of it in terms of attraction and aversion.
Friend1: We are swinging on this pendulum?
Friend2: Since the time of birth. I want to play all day. I don’t want to go to school. I want to work for this company. I want to move on to a different place. I want to go back to school, to earn a higher degree, which will carry accompanying career advancement. Then I want to give everything up and retire.
Friend1: Sure. That sounds pretty normal. Where do friends and enemies fit into this?
Friend2: Take each individual desire. Now consider the associated players.
Friend1: Okay, let’s try the work situation.
Friend2: Alright, so someone who contributes to the enjoyment at work is a friend. Someone who gets in the way, causing me needless trouble, is an enemy.
Friend1: Again, that sounds pretty reasonable.
Friend2: The same within a family. I like my brother because of the times we spent together. I don’t like my sister because of the irrational behavior and trouble she causes.
Friend1: Okay, so what is wrong with applying those designations? This is where Prahlada’s teaching becomes difficult to understand.
Friend2: At the end of the day, every person is a servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Friend1: They certainly wouldn’t think so. That is why someone proudly proclaims to be an atheist.
Friend2: But even they are servants. They worship to the extent of their knowledge. They are familiar with only the shadow portion of the Almighty. They know only one of His energies, which is like a reflection from the original place.
Friend1: Alright, but friends are helpful to me and enemies are not.
Friend2: Why is my situation so important? Okay, you consider someone to be an enemy, but that same person is a friend to someone else. They are the beloved of another person. They are relied upon by their family. Why does your assigned designation take priority?
Friend1: I am living this life. It is my experience.
Friend2: And so everyone else has their individual experience. That’s why friend and enemy are categories in duality. They are not fixed positions. The saintly person considers everyone to be a servant of the Almighty. This is a difficult standard to reach, but the difficulty does not invalidate the reality.
Friend1: It is an interesting way to view things, for sure.
Friend2: The ultimate destination is the same, regardless of how I view someone. They are destined for destruction. They will leave this world. So will I. Nothing can be done to prevent the reality. I will not harbor long-term resentment precisely because others are overcome by the same dualities that affect me.
Friend1: Attraction and aversion.
Friend2: I don’t have to swing on the pendulum if I don’t want to. Just as the seasons change, so happiness and sadness will arrive on their own. My input is not necessary. As I progress through the journey of life, there will be people friendly to me and people inimical. I cannot change that.
मात्रा-स्पर्शास् तु कौन्तेय
तांस् तितिक्षस्व भारत
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya
tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata
“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)
Through the timeless instruction offered by saints like Prahlada Maharaja, I can alter my outlook so that I am not affected by the dualities. Whether someone loves me or hates me, I will carry forward in my mission to serve Bhagavan to the best of my ability. That service can continue lifetime after lifetime.
Whether as friend or enemy too,
Not changing my view.
Lobbing curses dreaded,
Or compassion in heart embedded.
Such that all destined for end,
Not indefinitely to extend.
This life for Bhagavan reserving,
Who my sacrifice deserving.