Radhanath Swami says that aiming actions at material self fulfilment instead of universal welfare of others, the only outcome we will see is constant anxiety.
Man is a being whose mind is ever in free play. The mind generates its own independent and natural thoughts and charts its own course. It can be stubborn, wayward and uncontrollable as well (Gita 6.34). Our thoughts are in constant flux, moving around with fluid ease within our cognitions, physical and emotional experiences, relationships, and life situation. The quality of our thoughts directs our proclivities and choice of actions.
Over his life span, a man amasses a load of thoughts and actions. This accumulation initiates reactions, which reminds us of Isaac Newton’s third law of motion: “To every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction.” Reaction to our conscious thoughts and actions in life is known in Vedic philosophy as karma. There are many references to karma in scriptures. Regarding action-reaction, there is a difference between classical physics and Vedic philosophy. Newton’s third law acts instantaneously. However, karma takes its time to react, but react it does unfailingly. Sometimes the reaction or karmic correction takes place in this life, sometimes in the next life.
Shifting frame of reference
Vedic scriptures inform that there is a spiritual realm beyond material conditions, where the Supreme Lord Krishna and His eternal consort Radha reside with Their confidential associates. Though all living entities are essentially servants of the Lord and would be happiest to regain such positions, the Lord, in His magnanimity, considers us His associates. During Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan, he deliberately concealed his supreme godhood to enjoy pastimes of equality and fraternity with the gopas and gopis, in friendly or amorous dealings. These pastimes are reflections of His eternal pastimes in His spiritual planet Krishnaloka or Goloka Vrindavan.
Longing for anything material or any living being is on the material plane, actuating karmic reactions, which can be undergone only in material bodies. A loving relationship with Lord Krishna (or Vishnu) and shelter at his lotus feet, is the highest spiritual attainment for any atma (Gita 6.27-28).
In Krishna Consciousness
Preparing food for Krishna, making dresses for his archana murti, making flower garlands for him, dancing before him, singing his glories, helping to build a beautiful temple for him, distributing his prasad, helping in publishing and disseminating spiritual literature, congregational chanting of his holy names, organising Gita or Bhagavatam recital programmes, and such other activities, are loving offerings to Krishna. Temporary obstacles arise in life due to the interplay of the three gunas (modes) of material nature. We need not thereby allow our equanimity to be disturbed. Krishna’s pleasure is the critical linkage we should strive for.
At the crossroads
Our daily connection with Krishna, howsoever simple, is spiritually potent, indicating to him that we are ready to depart from this whirlpool of repeated birth, these miserable conditions, and return to Him. The Lord has been patiently waiting to receive this signal from us since the time we rebelled most ungraciously, and left him, to satisfy our base cravings to enjoy matter independently.
If we still choose to harbour a materialistic mentality, to continue to enjoy and exploit fully various facilities available in the material world, ignoring Krishna, we ourselves compel him to ignore us, as Krishna never meddles in our free choices. We empower the stringent and unswerving laws of karma to kick in by default, for repeated birth in the material realm. We prefer a highway or a main road when we want to go somewhere. We normally avoid a narrow and unattractive bypass road. In material life, maya’s machinations ensure that all roads leading to entanglement in the material world, look like great highways. The bypass road of Krishna consciousness does not appear promising to a beginner, as some lifestyle restrictions and self-discipline are necessary.
Taking the bypass road
If we consciously work not for our personal gain or pleasure, but for Krishna’s pleasure, we effectively hand over the reins of our life’s chariot, like Arjuna, to Krishna. He assumes control, and we, cognizant that He shall sufficiently fulfil all our short-term and long-term needs (Gita 9.22), discard longing or expectation, gradually becoming free from worry and anxiety. The extent to which we become carefree or fearless is proportional to our conviction about Krishna’s protection. We can take a conscious, unforced, and firm decision, to work for and on behalf of Krishna, diligently, in business, in service, as professionals, or in self employment. We could consider ourselves His trustees, agents, representatives or servants. Krishna absorbs all karmic reactions implicit in our work, if any (Gita 5.10). “If we work with steady faith and without envy, our work no longer entangles us in karma (Gita 4.22).”
We don’t stop work but work in a way that will give Krishna pleasure. Once we firmly shift our frame of reference, from plain materialism to Krishna consciousness, we effectively bypass and negate karma, for good. Let us avoid jumping into the fray of material one-upmanship, the rat race of life, like most others, to struggle life after life, in various species of bodies, in repeated attempts to dominate and enjoy matter, hoping each time for permanent happiness. A social climbing mentality, together with an attitude of one-upmanship for amassing material status-symbols, and striving to compete with and surpass relatives, friends and neighbours, is called keeping up with the Joneses. We should not become characters ourselves in the cartoon strip of that name. We ignore Krishna at our own risk and cost.
We should take the bypass road leading to Krishna, our eternal benefactor and provider. This is the only road to permanent happiness.
The writer is a spiritual guru of ISKCON
Writer: Radhanath Swami
Courtesy: The Pioneer