“Lord Brahma said: O son of Kashyapa Muni, please get up, please get up. All good fortune unto you. You are now perfect in the performance of your austerities, and therefore I may give you a benediction. You may now ask from me whatever you desire, and I shall try to fulfill your wish.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.3.17)
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उत्तिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भद्रं ते
तपः-सिद्धो ’सि काश्यप
वरदो ’हम् अनुप्राप्तो
व्रियताम् ईप्सितो वरः
uttiṣṭhottiṣṭha bhadraṁ te
tapaḥ-siddho ’si kāśyapa
varado ’ham anuprāpto
vriyatām īpsito varaḥ
1. I want to go back to a past life
“You’re advising me to think big? You want me to reach for the stars? This is an exercise in theory, to see what it is we truly want? Okay, let me consider that for a moment. Alright, I have settled upon a dream.
“I want to go back to a past life. I want to return to how I was before. Someone must know the truth. Perhaps one of the advanced mystics. Seers, I think they are called. I can find one in a remote cave somewhere. By reading my palm or something, they can decipher what I was in the past.
“My dream is to go back to that. Let me work as hard as I can to return to that specific appearance. People will address me with the former name. Everything will be great.”
2. I want my relatives back
“The people who have departed. My heart still aches. The pain of knowing the reality overwhelms me, that I will never get to speak with them again. I would love to bounce ideas off of them, hear what they have to say. They always knew how to make things right.
“I want their association again. That is my only desire in life. This is the dream to consider. I have no idea how to make that happen, but it would be great to try for it.”
3. I want to conquer the world
“I respect that certain people rise to fame and stature based on achievements and accomplishments. They may be the leader of a successful business. Perhaps they invented a product that the entire world now relies upon. They could be the topmost person in government for a powerful nation.
“My dream is to rule the entire world. I want everyone to know my name. There should be some respect, especially within my immediate vicinity. Action should follow every decree. Whatever comes to my mind, that desire should become a reality.”
4. I want to live forever
“Yes, I understand that everyone from the past has moved on. I have witnessed it with my own eyes, someone dying. It is a striking transformation, for sure. One moment they are here, and the next they are gone.
“I don’t want that to happen to me. Let me remain in this lifetime forever. I want to avoid death. People may consider me a fool, but you are the ones asking me about my dreams. This is what I wish to make happen.”
Such an exercise may play out with schoolchildren in the modern day. The teacher asks the students to think of what they want in the future, when they become adults. There may even be visiting guests, who are already successful. They give advice along the following lines:
“Think of what you want and go for it. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Follow other people who have succeeded. If I listened to every person who thought it couldn’t be done, I would never be where I am today. Dream big and then work to make those dreams a reality.”
From the above mentioned list of hypothetical desires, we see that there are indeed limitations. We have extraordinary cases from the documented histories found in Vedic literature, but even then the reality was not perfect.
Mother Devaki asked to once again see her departed children, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead made that a reality. A king may return to a youthful body through a trade with his children, but that rarely occurs.
The Daitya leader named Hiranyakashipu worked to the severest extent to be able to achieve world domination. Lord Brahma, the creator, was pleased by the austerities and granted boons to the best of his abilities.
Even that domination was limited. It was Hiranyakashipu’s five-year old son who eventually took him down, without firing a shot. The Daitya king wanted immortality. He wanted to live forever, but when Brahma couldn’t offer that, the king thought of ways around it.
Due to the continuation of time, any temporary achievement has a future. Whatever I may dream of, after difficult work, I might get what I want, but then I still need to move forward. There is still death lurking around the corner, ready to destroy everything.
The ideal destination within the human birth is the same for every individual. Find the shelter of the Divine. Realize the true identity as spirit soul, Brahman. Work in ways to remain connected to the Divine Consciousness. This is known as yoga, and the secret with bhakti-yoga is that the long-term interest eventually merges with the short-term interest. This creates a life of liberation even prior to death.
Instead for afterlife to await,
Life of liberation create.
Reaching best possible dream,
Where without limitations seen.
Such that not even by time destroyed,
Because Divine protection employed.
Extended to future births to go,
Birthright of every human so.
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