“A human being should be inquisitive to know who he is, what the universe is, what God is, and what the relationship is between himself, God and the material world. Such questions cannot be asked by cats and dogs, but they must arise in the heart of a real human being. Knowledge of these four items-namely, oneself, the universe, God, and their internal relationship-is called sambandha-jnana, or the knowledge of one’s relationship.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 7.146 Purport)
1. Being the most popular person
“I have read about famous people. There are so many books dedicated to them. For one of the founding fathers of the United States, at a prestigious university there is an entire department dedicated to the study of their life.
“I would love to make a similar impact. I want people to read about my exploits for centuries. I would like to have statues erected, songs of glorification composed, and popularity that extends beyond the boundaries of oceans, nationality, and culture.”
2. Eating more food than anyone else
“I see these pictures that people post online. They went to some fancy restaurant. Maybe they decided to prepare something at home. I always get hungry in the process. I want a piece of the action, so to speak.
“Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could post about such indulgences on a daily basis? What if I could eat more than anyone else? What if I were on a first-name basis with every important restaurant in the world? How cool would that be?”
3. Becoming the world’s strongest man
“I want to be known as the strongest person in the world. I think I can make it happen, with a combination of proper diet and exercise. By proper, I mean eating sufficiently in order to increase the body mass. I will take whatever supplements are necessary to enhance performance in the gym.”
4. Amassing the largest bank balance in history
“The list keeps changing. One day it is the founder of a certain internet sales company. The next it is the person leading the evolution of smart technology, across different departments of consumer electronics.
“I want to be the wealthiest person. I want to be able to demonstrate the reality with a matching bank balance. Others will be envious. They will wonder what I did to make it happen.”
5. Trying to live forever
“You read about these people dying. They say it is a harsh reality of life. The inevitable end to everything. Death and taxes – those are the only guarantees. It doesn’t matter how long someone made it, eventually they succumbed to the forces of time.
“What if I am the one who stops the cycle? Why can’t I live forever? I will take special precaution and care, not ignoring the danger areas of the past. I will learn from the mistakes of others. I will be the one to finally defeat formidable time.”
A single Sanskrit aphorism provides the call to action for the human being. The advice applies across the board. Certain circumstances may accelerate the process, such as taking birth in a family of cultured individuals, who are attune to the precepts of Vedanta philosophy. Other times, there is a lower probability of success within a single lifetime, such as when growing up with constant concern over the bare necessities of life.
Nevertheless, the expectation is the same. Athato brahma-jijnasa says that now is the time for inquiring into the spiritual side of things. Brahman is God, the spiritual energy, the true nature of the living entities, and also that which is separate and distinct from maya, which is illusion.
As important as what the focus is placed on is what is omitted. The human birth is not the time for seeking perfection in the above mentioned areas, and others. There is ample opportunity for sense gratification within the animal species.
Due to the revolving nature of time with respect to creation and destruction, if compared to an amusement park ride, a single individual can have unlimited admission. They can get on the ride as many times as they want.
This means that the human birth is not necessary for attempting enjoyment. There is plenty of sex interaction available as a dog or a monkey. The horse is naturally beautiful and the lion is the king of the jungle. The tree has the potential to stand in one place for thousands of years, tolerating every disturbance of nature.
Only the human being can inquire into the true identity of the individual. Only the human being can see the soul inside, the Brahman energy pervading all of space, and the illusion standing in between. Only the human being can take the steps necessary to have an actual realization of Brahman and everything wonderful that it entails.
To that end, those who act on the brahma-jijnasa call-to-action are blessed. They are the most fortunate among us. The doors to the entire world essentially open up for them. They find renewing bliss and enthusiasm through the lack of hankering and lamenting.
न शोचति न काङ्क्षति
समः सर्वेषु भूतेषु
मद्-भक्तिं लभते पराम्
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)
They are equal in their outlook, and they are perfectly situated for serving the Almighty, who is above even Brahman. From Him come the material and spiritual worlds. He is never subject to illusion. Maya is merely forgetting Him. Through constant remembrance, we eliminate the illusion and its most debilitating effect of constant rebirth.
Knowledge of the highest worth,
Only way to stop rebirth.
For that destination bound,
When Brahman-inquiry found.
Such that forward to proceed,
Blessed this birth indeed.
Ready for devotional service then,
No hankering-lamenting when.
Categories: the five