“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.3)Download this episode (right click and save)
Do you want to go through life sad and depressed? How about wandering aimlessly in search of that one thing that will give you lasting happiness? Do you ever see others who seem to have no problem getting out of bed, while you struggle to find a purpose to your existence? These are the problems facing the healthy, those who are not stricken by a disease immediately attacking their physical form. The “immediately” qualifier is necessary since everyone is on the verge of death. Kalah, death as it is known in Sanskrit, is thus far undefeated. Whether you have the will to win, whether you’re ready to take it on the chin, or whether you don’t want to be the loser since the winner takes it all, it won’t matter. Death will defeat you.
So the relatively healthy are those who are not on the immediate verge of death due to an illness. Still, they have their problems. They are not always happy. They do not know how best to use the healthy life with which they are blessed. The only answer comes from the Vaishnava saints, who live eternally to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since they have got the describing spirit, wherein they always increase the praises of the Supreme Lord and His consorts in some way, they have actually got life. And like a fire that can spark other flames, these servants can pass on the same eternal life to anyone, provided they are ready to accept the cure.
You’ve likely heard the pitch from the telethons and radiothons that occur annually in support of a particular health issue. They usually go something like this:
“Thanks to your kind donations over the years, we’ve made a lot of progress in the fight against such and such disease. Only a few short years ago, being diagnosed with this disease meant a death sentence. Now this is not the case. So many people are surviving now. The five and ten year cure rates are much higher. But there is still a lot of work to be done. With your help hopefully one day we can totally wipe out this disease.”
Indeed, such work is rooted in great compassion. Many of the promoters have been affected by the disease themselves. They saw others close to them suffer so much and eventually die. Therefore they tried in some little way to help out. They have compassion for others who are suffering.
Of course there is competition in this area. Man does not die from a single disease alone. There are many diseases, and so there are many causes competing for support from the sympathetic public. Who is to say which disease is more important? If my loved one passed on from a particular illness, I will consider that to be the most important. But then someone else was affected by another disease, so they have a different opinion.
But what about the people who are healthy? What about the people who get cured? What should they do with their life? The common answer is “live it to their heart’s content. Be happy every day. Be thankful for God’s blessings.” Indeed, this is valid, but how does one stay happy? How do they make their heart content? The Vaishnava saint says that the only way is through bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. This is not sentiment. This fact is validated through personal practice and thousands of years of tangible evidence, both within the bhakti realm and outside of it.
Outside the realm we see the evidence of so many people from the past who succeeded materially. They got enough money, enough food, and enough association with the opposite sex. Still, they weren’t happy. So someone struggling so hard to reach a destination that others already know isn’t the summit to an existence isn’t a very wise choice.
Within the realm of bhakti we have the saintly characters themselves, who were always blissful in devotion. Their transcendental radiance spread throughout, like a bright light to dissipate the darkness of night. They showed their devotion in acts of kindness, in the compassionate treatment of other living entities, and in the sharing of eternal wisdom from sacred texts like the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam.
Everyone needs something to do. The healthy person has more time on their hands, with no disease to worry over immediately. Therefore they need more things to do. The urgency is greater to find a lifetime engagement. Devotional service provides that. It allows one to praise someone else all the time. The features of the adored object are inexhaustible and inestimable in greatness. This is a blessing for the worshiper rather than a curse. It means that at any time and at any place one can glorify God. They can record their glorifications to keep progress and to also pass on valuable information to others. And to fill the air with a good aura, they can always chant the holy names, which is the elixir for the distressed mind looking for meaning to a healthy life: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
There is no loss in taking to devotion. One might fear that by following bhakti-yoga other causes will get ignored, but actually the percentage of the population that will take up devotion in earnest is very small. There is no shortage of scientists looking for cures, and comparatively speaking the number of people soliciting for help in curing diseases is very large. To the larger point, the cure offered by the Vaishnava saint is much more valuable, and it is applicable to both the healthy and the sick. Death will arrive for all, and the consciousness at that most important moment determines the type of life one will find next. The cure of bhakti gives a life of devotion in the subsequent birth, which means more and more bliss in serving the Almighty. No other cure gives such a benediction.
Unfortunate are the sick,
When this disease to lick?
Society members asked to give pause,
And in generosity to support the cause.
But what then for the healthy?
For problems not solved even when wealthy.
The Vaishnava giving the cure for all,
Happiness when holy names to call.
Solution for finding life’s real meaning,
Eternally with devotional light beaming.