“O mighty-armed Krishna, does not such a man, being deviated from the path of Transcendence, perish like a riven cloud, with no position in any sphere?” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.38)
छिन्नाभ्रम् इव नश्यति
विमूढो ब्रह्मणः पथि
chinnābhram iva naśyati
vimūḍho brahmaṇaḥ pathi
There is a moment within the conversation between Arjuna and Krishna where there is concern over the influence of time on the practicing yogi. Arjuna is the one worried. He wonders what will happen to the progress.
He makes the comparison to a riven cloud. On a bright, sunny day there might be several beautiful clouds in the sky. The scene won’t stay that way. The wind operates. Time works its magic. The configuration of nature changes.
Arjuna worries that the same will occur with the person following yoga, that their progress will just vanish. Krishna gives assurance that there is no loss of progress. Following yoga is different in this way. The assets are kept securely in something like a transcendental bank account.
प्राप्य पुण्य-कृतां लोकान्
उषित्वा शाश्वतीः समाः
शुचीनां श्रीमतां गेहे
prāpya puṇya-kṛtāṁ lokān
uṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ
śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe
“The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.41)
The unsuccessful yogi gets to continue from where they left off. This means that a higher power coordinates to create the proper conditions for future success. One of those conditions is the association of saintly people. The specific guide is known as the guru, or spiritual master.
The guru is a gift from Krishna Himself, and their guidance is unlike anything else. The guru shows tremendous patience with the person sincerely interested in escaping the cycle of birth and death. The mature student might later reflect on this unbelievable kindness and how valuable it was in changing life for the better.
1. While I was demanding, they were tolerant
“I wanted everything right away. I insisted on seeing God. I required visual evidence. I needed to see some sort of miracle. They tried to explain to me that life itself is a miracle, with these massive objects floating in space and a large banyan tree emerging from a tiny seed.
“For some reason, they did not get offended. They tolerated my childish behavior. The silly questions I asked – I am so embarrassed when I think of them now. The guru never held anything against me.”
2. While I was irrational, they maintained a level head
“Many times my ramblings did not make sense. I complained about everything. The rules. The regulations. The need for this worship and that. The clothes I had to wear. I didn’t want to do any of it.
“They never freaked out. They were as steady as can be. It was almost as if they had seen everything before. They were experienced in so many areas of life that they had the proper response to whatever I complained about.”
3. While I could not stay focused, they never abandoned me
“I think the unofficial term is ‘falling down.’ That happened to me quite often. I vowed to follow certain restrictions and I failed to live up to that standard. I could not stay entirely focused. My mind drifted elsewhere. It was mostly worry. Sort of how Arjuna asked Krishna about the riven cloud, wherein the yogi does not succeed in a single lifetime.
“No matter what I did, the guru was always there. They are still with me. It is like they take this vow to never leave the people that approach them. Sure, you can’t maintain physical association forever. That is the way of the world. As if by random, people come together. By the same force of time, people must separate.
“I feel as if the guru is always with me. No matter what happens, I am able to approach them. They created a mechanism whereby the support is always there. I compare it to giving charity. You might give temporary satisfaction to a thirsty person by bringing a glass of water. A better option is to build a well in the neighborhood. This way everyone can access water whenever they need it.
“The guru is like a well of sustenance for the person struggling with the three modes of nature. I don’t know about others, but I certainly require a trip to that well on a regular basis. Otherwise, I will dry up. I will forget about the Supreme Personality of Godhead and fall again into ignorance.”
Unbelievable kindness to show,
Ever-increasing mercy to flow.
As if seeing everything already,
Despite my fears always steady.
Such that their association to maintain,
Words to this day sustain.
That guide always with me,
Representing Krishna is he.
Categories: the three