“Generally, the wealth of misers never allows them any happiness. In this life it causes their self-torment, and when they die it sends them to hell.” (Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.23.15)
न सुखाय कदाचन
मृतस्य नरकाय च
na sukhāya kadācana
mṛtasya narakāya ca
“From personal experience, I understand so many things after having gone through them myself. For example, you often hear wealthy and successful people warn against assessing based on a financial number.
“If you are an aspiring musician, make music that you enjoy. Don’t worry so much about commercial success. If you are going into business, find something you love doing. If you are able to open a single store, that is fine. You don’t need to create a worldwide conglomerate that gets traded on the big exchanges.
“It is one thing to warn others, but you don’t really understand until going through it yourself. Not that I am fabulously wealthy, but I have seen firsthand that money is not everything. You could be bringing in a lot, but still remain miserable. There might be so much else going on. Too many things to worry about.
“If you compare with the teachings within the science of self-realization, how is anyone really going to understand? How can a spiritual guide give advice on marriage if they have never been married before? How is a male going to understand the female psychology if they have no idea what life in that situation is like?
“On a broader scale, how can someone tell me that sense gratification should be limited when they haven’t experienced life to the fullest? Do you see what I am getting at? How will Vedic teachings be relevant to people unless they have firsthand validation?”
The experience certainly provides a unique perspective. Going through difficulties is a good way to reduce envy. There is no need to pity someone else, when we are all in the same boat. As Shri Hanuman explains, the body is like a bubble, and each one of us are within that fragile situation, starting from the time of birth.
शोच्या शोचसि कं शोच्यं दीनं दीनाऽनुकम्पसे।
कस्य कोवाऽनुशोच्योऽस्ति देहेऽस्मिन् बुद्बुदोपमे।।
śocyā śocasi kaṃ śocyaṃ dīnaṃ dīnā’nukampase।
kasya kovā’nuśocyo’sti dehe’smin budbudopame
“Whom are you lamenting for when you yourself are pitiable? Why do you pity the poor when you yourself have now been made poor? While in this body that is like a bubble, how can anyone look at anyone else as being worthy of lamentation?” (Hanuman speaking to Tara, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 21.3)
The issue is we don’t have the time to experience everything for ourselves. How will we be trained for every occupation? I spend years studying to become a lawyer, and so how will I understand what life is like for a doctor? How can someone who never works have respect for the difficulties of meeting daily responsibilities at an office?
Fortunately, hearing the correct information from authority is enough to get the job done. The “job” here is perfection of living. Shri Krishna explains that the wealth of misers leads them to hell in two ways. The miserliness causes misery in this lifetime, since they are always worried about their bank balance. That miserliness creates bad karma for the next lifetime, as well.
We don’t need to experience the situation for ourselves. The word of Krishna is sufficient. He is the highest authority. He is the adi-guru. He is the origin of everything. He is the supreme pure, pavitram paramam. He is the supreme resting place, param dhama.
परं ब्रह्म परं धाम पवित्रं परमं भवान् ।
पुरुषं शाश्वतं दिव्यमादिदेवमजं विभुम् ॥
paraṃ brahma paraṃ dhāma pavitraṃ paramaṃ bhavān ।
puruṣaṃ śāśvataṃ divyamādidevamajaṃ vibhum ॥
“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty.” (Bhagavad-gita, 10.12)
Bhagavad-gita contains the central truths of the science of self-realization. Shri Krishna speaks Bhagavad-gita. Krishna knows past, present, and future. He knows this for both Himself and others. The “others” includes living beings who have already been here and those who have yet to appear.
अहम् आत्मा गुडाकेश
अहम् आदिश् च मध्यं च
भूतानाम् अन्त एव च
aham ātmā guḍākeśa
aham ādiś ca madhyaṁ ca
bhūtānām anta eva ca
“I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.20)
When someone says, “I can tell you from firsthand experience,” I listen. I may not fully understand what they are saying, but it stays in the memory. When I receive validation later on, I realize that the person was telling the truth. I should have taken their word for it.
Krishna has firsthand experience of everything. We can take His word for it. The word is still available. It has not changed. We can access the original Sanskrit. It is as if Krishna is speaking directly to us, through the conversation with Arjuna.
Through testimony shown,
Then by experience known.
But not the only way,
Sufficient for others to say.
Krishna with highest word of all,
The supreme authority to call.
Such that valuable time to save,
Through wisdom to Arjuna gave.