“O Rama, You should know that just as fish cannot survive when taken out of water, neither Sita nor I can live without You for even a moment.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 53.31)
न च सीता त्वया हीना न चाहमपि राघव।
मुहूर्तमपि जीवावो जलान्मत्स्याविनोद्धृतौ।।
na ca sītā tvayā hīnā na cāhamapi rāghava।
muhūrtamapi jīvāvo jalānmatsyāvinoddhṛtau।।
Friend1: Weather is the boon to the awkward meeting. No matter who the person is, you can always bring up the weather to strike up conversation. It works even for a total stranger, for someone you are meeting for the first time.
Friend2: It helps if there is a contrast in situations. Such as where one person is suffering through cold weather, while the other person enjoys pleasant sunshine.
Friend1: It is humorous, for sure. In a tropical climate, if it gets mildly chilly, people break out their winter coats. Meanwhile, to people up north, the same conditions would be akin to a summer day.
Friend2: The seasons come and go. Dealing with the weather is like dealing with the ups and downs of life:
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)
Friend1: At least with me, every year I promise to do something about the situation. When the cold weather hits, I tell the spouse that I have had it:
“This is it. We are moving. I mean it this time. We have to find a place where it is nice and warm throughout the year. It is literally a freezer outside right now. Stay out there long enough and it will be the end.”
Friend2: I’m sure when the dreaded humidity of summer rolls around, you feel the opposite way.
Friend1: You know me so well.
“This humidity is crazy. It is like stepping outside of a shower, except the conditions stay that way for weeks at a time. When the winter rolls around, you won’t hear me complaining. This year I will appreciate it.”
Friend2: Back and forth we go, like swinging on a pendulum. Bhoga and tyaga, as they are described in Sanskrit. Enjoyment and renunciation.
Friend1: I thought of something during the most recent winter freeze. There is a certain experience, or taste, if you will. Picture the coldest day. A sharp drop in temperature. Cloud cover throughout the day.
Friend2: A typical January in the northeast of America.
Friend1: Add powerful winds to the picture. This is about as dreaded as you can get. One of those where you don’t envy the professional football players going out on the field.
Friend2: They’ve had some famous games in those conditions. The Ice Bowl. The Freezer Bowl. The names are hilarious.
Friend1: There is a corresponding taste. Gaining relief from the cold. Stepping inside to a warm room. The feeling from knowing you are safe from the cold.
Friend2: For certain. You have that living room image of the fireplace burning. The rest of the world might be cold, but you are in the most comfortable place.
Friend1: Is that a good way to understand the shelter of the Divine? I know it is a big transition, but it was my initial thought.
Friend2: What is that?
Friend1: The rescue from the cold, the warming fireplace, the heated home in general – it is like the most comforting place. You almost appreciate the cold, because of the contrast it creates.
Friend2: You are saying that the illusion of maya makes you appreciate the shelter of God?
Friend1: It adds to the experience. I am not sure I have ever heard this comparison made before, but it is immediately what I thought. Curl up next to the fireplace and read a good book, like Mahabharata or Ramayana. In essence, take full advantage of the situation and enjoy the company of the Supreme Lord.
Friend2: You are in a state of full dependence. The heat is everything to you. With that vulnerability you can also chant the holy names and appreciate God in the same way: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Friend1: Not that I want to ever be in maya, if I had the ability to rationally choose. But now that I have a brief escape, I have a greater appreciation for the transcendental side.
Friend2: Consider the way Lakshmana describes it. He compares the direct association of Shri Rama to the fish going back into the water. The fish cannot live outside of the natural habitat. By definition, any other setting is unnatural.
Friend1: Which explains our position in the material world.
Of wind chill striking and bold,
Unbearable a few minutes in the cold.
Inside warm and safe,
Heated that idyllic place.
Like a specific taste the exchange,
Similar from maya to change.
The protection of Divine taking,
A beautiful contrast making.