“That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.37)
यत् तद् अग्रे विषम् इव
तत् सुखं सात्त्विकं प्रोक्तम्
yat tad agre viṣam iva
tat sukhaṁ sāttvikaṁ proktam
1. Waking up early
“I am not what you would call a morning person. When I wake up, I just want to stay in bed. I want to keep sleeping. I am conscious of the difficulties that lay ahead. There is fear. There is dread.
“You are asking me to wake up that early, during a supposedly auspicious time known as brahma-muhurta? Even if I don’t get up that early, at least I should be working towards that goal? It is too much of a burden, if you ask me.”
2. Restriction on diet
“Why do I have to change what I eat? Why does God care? We need food in order to stay alive. Why should we torture ourselves a few times a month and then on special occasions? It doesn’t make sense.
“I will try my best. I have agreed to your proposal. I don’t understand everything right now, but maybe in the future the pieces of the puzzle will come together.”
3. Reading books
“Reading makes me sleepy. Also, the lighting is not always good. It is difficult to hold one side when you are at the beginning or at the end.
“You say that the knowledge in these books will change my life. Okay, I will give it a try. I am not sure everything will sink in right away, but there is always the chance.”
4. Pronouncing Sanskrit words
“I am not a native speaker of languages derived from Sanskrit. I certainly can’t read the Devanagari script, but the acharya has kindly transliterated the original verses into Roman characters. This makes the material somewhat readable.
“I have difficulty pronouncing, though. Do I really need to connect with the sounds? There is potency in what is known as shabda-brahman. That is your claim, so I guess I will tolerate the difficulties for now.”
5. Dealing with infighting
“Seriously, these people fight all the time. They defame. They mock. They threaten violence. The proof is everywhere. Is that what will happen to me? How do I advance in this transcendental path in the face of such conflict?
“Okay, it is true that the same conflict can be found practically everywhere. No one is immune. It is not like anyone is stopping me from chanting the holy names or reading books. I can keep to myself, but also associate. If you say that will help me in the long run, I will trust your judgment. Let’s hope that you are right.”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that a person must tolerate the inconvenience in order to realize the goal. That final destination is, at a minimum, an end to rebirth. It is stopping the spinning wheel of samsara, which is pain and misery packed in between the events of birth and death.
That final destination is worthwhile for every person. This is because birth is the original source of difficulties. If we consider the suffering that we see around us, we think that a basic adjustment here and there will solve the issue.
When we review history, however, we see that the absence of today’s problems did not relate to any higher standard of happiness. We are upset at the price of commodities today, but in the past there were similar concerns. There might have been a great war that the population was forced into. Maybe disease was more widespread. Perhaps people had to struggle with lack of nutrition based on the food production available at the time.
A person is disappointed that they have yet to start a family in adulthood, that everyone else is passing them by. Another person faces the daily struggles of married life, forced to share interest with another resident in the home.
There is concern over how work will play out, if the company giving employment will remain profitable. The latest leaders are so corrupt they barely hide it. Their misdeeds will plunge the economy into depression, and people will have to fight like animals just to secure basic necessities.
The original cause to these issues is birth itself. The material world is the land of forgetfulness. There are no fixed boundaries related to time. We have the paired events of birth and death, but those can repeat in a cycle. Even after billions of years, an individual may still want to take their chance at imitating transcendence, at rising to the top in a temporary position.
Self-realization is for stopping rebirth, but there are inconveniences in the beginning. Shri Krishna describes happiness in the mode of goodness to be like poison at the start and nectar at the end. The mode of goodness is the way for progressing in thoughts, words, and deeds. It is for reaching the standard of consciousness for realizing the true purpose to life, for properly identifying the living beings.
The process works, if a person should trust it. The poison does turn into nectar. It may take some time, but interviewing those who are advanced in the discipline reveals that the inconveniences essentially become forgotten. They turn into an afterthought.
This is due to the nectar that is serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Connecting with Him directly is blissful, in a repeating fashion. Day after day I can chant the holy names and not get tired: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
I can speak on the glories of Bhagavan and those associated with Him. These glories, which are gunas, are endless, ananta. There is no end, which means that my glorification can continue for birth after birth. That is indeed life in liberation, and I may not even realize it.
With discipline to introduce,
Difficulties to produce.
Such as early rising from bed,
A diet simpler instead.
Reading books the way,
Words of Sanskrit to say.
But after a little time,
Endless nectar to find.
Categories: the five