“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)Download this episode (right click and save)
Have you ever done something or accomplished something of which you were very proud, only to have others not share the same sentiment? One of those situations where you were fully confident in your decision, where you knew that what you were doing was right - but still everyone close to you did not agree? Indeed, this is the nature of the world we presently inhabit. One person, who is fallible, looks for validation from another, who is also fallible. The person offering the judgment in this case looks for validation from others for their own work. In the Bhagavad-gita we learn that the ultimate judge is the Supreme Lord, who looks only at consciousness at a particular time to determine whether the life was successfully lived or not.
Let’s say that I am very proud of having passed my driving test. For the longest time I wanted to drive a car. I saw my parents operate the family vehicle since I could first remember.
“How come I can’t drive,” I would think to myself. “It doesn’t look so hard. I have no problem playing videogames like Mario Cart. I’ve ridden go-carts as well. It seems like a lot of fun. For some reason they won’t let the kids drive. I can’t wait until I am old enough.”
When you take your seat behind the wheel for the first time, however, things aren’t so easy.
“Wow, so I always thought that when you hit the brake, the car automatically stops. That is not the case, especially if you already have a lot of speed. If you hit the brake, it slows down the car, but once you let go, it speeds back up again. This will take some getting used to.”
After hours of practice with your mother and father, who patiently look on, saying a prayer every now and then for everyone’s safety, you finally get to the point where you take the driving test. You are very nervous. If you fail, you won’t get to take the test again for another month. You anxiously await the driving instructor taking his seat. When he does, you follow the directions he gives. Finally, at the end, he takes out his little paper, writes something on it, and says the magic words, “Congratulations. You passed.”
Now, the happy moments in life aren’t truly worthwhile unless you can share them with others. So, naturally, you share your good news with your friends and family. They seem happy, for sure, but then you notice that they don’t think it’s that big a deal. “Yeah, they pass everyone eventually. So you can drive now. That’s nothing to be overly excited over.”
A little perturbed, you swear that the next time those same friends tell you about something good happening to them, you’ll return the favor. “Oh, so you got into your college of choice? That’s nice, I guess. But they probably admitted you because they had a quota to fulfill. Maybe they’re lessening their standards for which students they allow in.”
Man is fallible, after all. Man knows this based on the fact that he can’t avoid death. No matter how many machines are hooked up to the body, no matter how many malignant body parts get removed, nothing can be done to extend life indefinitely. At some point death arrives. It is a mystery as to when. Some people in remote parts of the world easily live for one hundred years. They don’t visit doctors. They don’t take vitamins. They don’t spend hours on the treadmill. They live a simple life, eating and sleeping in moderation, and don’t stress themselves out too much. In other parts of the world, those with access to advanced medical machinery have trouble staying healthy even at a young age. And so it’s a mystery as to why some can live for a long time and others cannot.
Besides his inevitable death, man knows that he cannot get everything that he wants. One moment he’s happy and alert, and the next he has a nagging headache because he hasn’t had enough caffeine in the day. One moment he’s got a safe and secure job and the next he’s scrambling to find a health insurance policy that won’t leave him bankrupt. And so it is no wonder that he seeks validation from others.
At issue is the fact that others are seeking the same validation. They are equally as fallible. There is one perfect being, however. He is the Almighty. From within He gives validation for the life properly lived. The proper way to live is to be conscious of Him. Think of Him, worship Him, offer everything that you do to Him. In this way, you will come to Him.
“O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.27)
The question then remains, if others are not providing validation for devotion practiced properly, how will one know that they are on the right path? The consciousness is what counts. The methods for the proper implementation of life’s work cannot be concocted by the mind. They must come from someone who knows them. And when that someone provides the information, the recipient can test to see if the methods are working. The test is the consciousness. “How much am I thinking of God? How much am I attached to Him? How much do I want to continue to serve Him and those dear to Him?”
Fortunately, the devotees of the Lord are very liberal in this regard. They are eager to share the potent methods with any and all. They spread the message through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” and deliver countless souls in the process. The recipient reciprocates by following devotion, by chanting these holy names themselves. And they get the ultimate validation at the end of life, where Shri Krishna, the Supreme Lord Himself, assesses their consciousness and rewards them accordingly with a future life in full consciousness of Him.
Looking for validation that others to give,
To know that properly this life I have lived.
But fallible man to offer how,
When also looking for same now?
Consciousness of Lord the path proper,
Start by thoughts, words and deeds to offer.
At time of death Krishna your mind to measure,
His eternal association then your gift to treasure.