Five Benedictions Where Progress Is Based On The Willingness Of The Individual

[Krishna and Arjuna]“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.28)

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येषां त्व् अन्त-गतं पापं
जनानां पुण्य-कर्मणाम्
ते द्वन्द्व-मोह-निर्मुक्ता
भजन्ते मां दृढ-व्रताः

yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ
janānāṁ puṇya-karmaṇām
te dvandva-moha-nirmuktā
bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ

1. A car

“Why is the refrigerator empty? Why are you still ordering everything online, to be delivered to the home? I already told you that method is way too expensive. You are wasting money. It also takes too long to receive.

“For instance, we cannot wait another month until we get milk and bread. Just go to the supermarket. That is what normal people do. You are not some heir to a royal dynasty. I gave you a car. There is no excuse anymore.

“If the car sits there too long, without being started, the battery will die. I am not going to fix it for you. Just use what has been kindly offered. Stop being lazy.”

2. Money

“I know people tend to get worked up over politics. You merely mention the name of a famous politician and you get all sorts of reactions, in the extreme, from both sides. In this case, I will not bring up the name, but there is a story from the term in office of a particular president of the United States.

“During that time the leader would receive physical mail from the citizens. I guess one person fell on hard times, so they were having trouble paying some bills. The president responded to their letter personally, and enclosed a check for a certain amount of money.

“Well, the person on the receiving end couldn’t believe it. They were amazed that a sitting officeholder would respond to a letter from an anonymous citizen. That person decided to have the check framed and hung on a wall.

“The president came to find out about it and was a little concerned. He wanted the money to be used to alleviate the financial distress. He ended up sending another check. I always found that story endearing and funny at the same time.”

3. An exercise machine

“Is it me or are you getting fatter? This doesn’t make sense. We have that gym in the garage. You have been taking sessions with that fitness trainer. How is it that your physical shape has not improved at all?

“Is it possible that you merely enter the room but don’t do any exercise? Are you actually playing video games the entire time? I believe there is an episode from a famous sitcom that has this premise. I hope that is not where you got the idea from.”

4. A book

“Have you started applying for jobs? Why not? What are you waiting for? You should be an expert in that technology by now. I gave you all those books to learn from. Those are the same books I read when I was starting out.

“You mean you haven’t opened a single book? How do you expect to learn? You want to stay a bum your whole life? You don’t want to work? Put away the smartphone, get up, and start reading. No one is going to give you money unless you work for it. You need to improve your skills if you want to get a good job.”

5. Krishna consciousness

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that progress in this discipline is factually based on the willingness of the individual living entity. He gives the reference of Shrila Rupa Gosvami, who says a person becomes immediately liberated if they have a strong inclination to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Bhagavad-gita presents a similar concept with the Sanskrit words dridha-vratah. This refers to someone who is steady in their vow. We could also call it determination. After exhausting their sinful reactions from the past, those who are on the platform of pious behavior and consciousness dedicate themselves to the Supreme Lord.

Those sinful reactions could be from this life or many previous lifetimes. The past experiences are like disturbances in a timeline. They are no longer relevant because there is a higher standard. The key is to receive the knowledge, to be made aware of a superior type of existence.

[apple orchard]The saintly person passes on the gift in the form of the seed of the creeper of devotion, bhakti-lata-bija. The seed contains everything necessary for growth. The munificent fruit tree in the backyard started as a seed. We reap the harvest of wonderful fruit falling to the ground, on its own, but the seed is the original source.

If someone gives us the seed of the creeper of devotion, we must know what to do with that seed. If we set it aside, ignore it, forget about it, or have no faith in its ability to transform into a bountiful tree full of regenerating leaves of expanding bliss and enthusiasm, we will never reap the benefits.

The same concept is there within the presentation of Bhagavad-gita itself. Shri Krishna transfers knowledge to the disciple named Arjuna. That disciple is perplexed, bewildered, and unsure of what to do. Arjuna does not know how to proceed. He is hesitating at a time when everyone is counting on him to be sure, confident, and skillful.

Though He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna does not solve the entire problem for Arjuna. Krishna gives wisdom. He answers questions. He highlights the merits and faults of different kinds of living. He explains the impact of choices. He shows what will happen in the future.

इति ते ज्ञानम् आख्यातं
गुह्याद् गुह्यतरं मया
विमृश्यैतद् अशेषेण
यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु

iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ
guhyād guhyataraṁ mayā
vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa
yathecchasi tathā kuru

“Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.63)

[Krishna and Arjuna]In the end, it is still Arjuna’s decision. Progress in the path is based on the willingness of the disciple. Do they really understand what they have heard? Are they ready to take action? Are they prepared to remain steady amidst the turmoil, interference, and obstacles that material life always presents? If they can be dridha-vrata, then they are already liberated. Their success is guaranteed.

In Closing:

Because of determination steady,
Liberated already.

Past sins to clear,
Now to Krishna dear.

Because first knowledge accepted,
Which parampara protected.

Then implemented willingness way,
Otherwise potential only to stay.

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