Friday, December 13, 2013

When Less Is More

Lord Krishna“Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.65)

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Bhagavad-gita, 18.65It is said that too much material opulence can hurt the chances for success in spiritual life. There is the saying relating to how difficult it is for the rich man to enter heaven, how it is easier to thread the eye of a needle with a camel. There is meaning behind the words, as one’s life changes when they find more success. Though it needn’t be the case, more wealth means more objects, which means more diversion of attention.

Success in spiritual life depends on fixed concentration. The Sanskrit term within the discipline of yoga is dhyana. “Focus your mind. Eliminate all outside thoughts. Fix your eyes on the tip of your nose. Do this while sitting erect on a cushion made of deerskin. The dead animal’s skin keeps the insects away. The posture must be held in a secluded place, where there are no distractions. No ringing of cell phones, no clamoring of pots and pans from the kitchen, no children running around demanding attention. There is nothing else to do but meditate. Even sleeping is difficult in the ideal place for meditational yoga.”

MeditationIn the present period of time finding such conditions is very difficult. Not everyone can afford the weekend retreat to a quiet area. Growing up with electronics, appliances, cars, televisions, and cell phones, how is one expected to suddenly drop everything and live in a renounced cave? Moreover, if the person meditating knows that they must return to their hectic suburban lifestyle upon weekend’s completion, their concentration will suffer. We can think of it like trying to sleep the night before something very important. It is a lot more difficult to relax in such a situation versus on a typical day.

God is for everyone. This theoretical assertion is supported by the factual presence of the Paramatma within every individual. We can accurately say that God travels with us all the time; perhaps not in His original transcendental form, but in a manifestation that is just as potent. This expansion, which resides in the heart next to the individual soul, or jivatma, does not intervene. It is there to act as an authority, a guiding force, a flawless consultant. This is all provided that one sees it as such. Based on the widespread distaste for religion, we see that just knowing that the Paramatma exists makes one very fortunate.

As God is always with us, we can connect with Him at any time. The key is the concentration. Despite living in a world with so many distractions, one can still find a way to stay with Him. Have we ever been in a room full of people and felt totally alone? Have we ever had only our closest friend with us and felt totally safe and comfortable? So the numbers on the outside don’t necessarily matter. A person can be living in a cave and still be very attached, just as someone living in a busy city can be completely renounced.

As the key is dhyana, whatever is around to attack that concentration thus becomes inauspicious. Someone who is suddenly materially successful might get distracted. They may start to think that they can achieve success on their own, one hundred percent of the time. The self-help guru gives guidance on how to be happy in life, but their recommendations are not perfect. The same goes for diet advice and words of wisdom on how to be a successful businessman.

Estate planningToo much material opulence brings additional responsibilities. “How will the estate be managed? Who will inherit my wealth after I am gone? How can I make sure the company stays profitable going forward? What kind of car am I going to buy? How soon until I should buy a new one? Where should I live? I have so much money now, but so many new decisions to make.”

All of the new objects that get attention are in a sense offered a kind of worship. Worship comes down to attention, after all. It is attention of a good kind. If I get a new car that is very expensive, I will obviously give it a lot of attention. The same goes for a large house. Therefore my material opulence creates so many new objects for worship, and these objects are not God. Most often these objects are not even people, so what can they really do for me?

Lord KrishnaThe person who is unfortunate in the material sense often has an easier time accepting the one and only Lord as their exclusive object of worship. They don’t have anything else to distract them, so they are actually very fortunate. The objects of material opulence will eventually vanish, as will the body itself. The attention to the Supreme Lord doesn’t have to, however. It stays with the devoted soul into the next life, as the Paramatma reveals its original spiritual form as an all-attractive being. Known as Bhagavan, His association is the most valuable, making all other objects and possessions insignificant.

In Closing:

In casino from roulette wheel’s spin,

Great fortune, so much money to win.

 

Now to go buying this item and that,

Protecting car, clothes measuring exact.

 

Though not aware, in worship of such to live,

Since after all so much attention to give.

 

For spiritual life hinged upon concentration,

Above all else dhyana the foundation.

 

Sometimes with misfortune the Lord to bless,

More time for Him when objects less.

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