“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)Download this episode (right click and save)
At some point during the journey through life, the sober human being looks for a higher purpose. “What am I doing here? Is my existence worth anything? I want to make a meaningful impact on society. I want to make a difference.” Unfortunately, a difference doesn’t necessarily mean a positive result. Despots and cruel dictators of the past have certainly made a difference. They made an impact on their society, instilling fear and dread in the hearts of the innocent. To make a positive difference is the desired objective, and so it would make sense to tackle a problem that everyone faces. The Bhagavad-gita jumps right to that problem, and the solution offered is quite straightforward.
Some people are poor. They don’t have enough money. They don’t have a car, a mobile telephone, a television set, or enough funds to take a vacation. They squeeze by on the modest income they have. They have no peace since they don’t know if they will make ends meet going forward. I can try a myriad of solutions to help them, and even if I’m successful, there are still others with problems. The rich are also suffering, though I may not see it. Though they have a fancy car and a luxurious house, it doesn’t mean that they don’t hanker. It doesn’t mean that they are free of lamentation. Whether a poor person laments or a rich person, the pain from that lamentation is the same. Therefore my drive to end poverty doesn’t solve all the problems of the world.
Some people are diseased. They get hit by a terrible illness, one that might have affected someone in my family as well. Therefore I take to promoting awareness for this disease. I educate others about the number of people affected each year and what steps can be taken for prevention. Again, this issue is not all-encompassing. Not everyone will have the disease I am focused on. Moreover, others suffer from a different disease. They too know of a loved one who died from that illness; so they think their disease of focus is more important. There is no way to reconcile the difference, since each person is entitled to their opinion.
The ecology of the earth is being harmed. Drilling for oil, dumping out toxic waste, factory smoke and automobile emissions in the air - these are not good things. I thus take it as my duty to fix the environment. I will educate others on how to live a simple life, how to conserve. In the present age of heightened fruitive activity through industrialization and increased avenues for sense gratification, it will be difficult to get anyone to listen to me with attention. The notable champions of such causes presently in the public eye don’t follow the recommendations they give; they are often the greatest polluters.
In the odd chance that I succeed in cleaning up the environment, there are still the aforementioned issues relating to poverty and disease. This is the defect with any cause; one solution will not solve all other problems. To make a real difference, it would make sense to look for the root cause to all problems. In the Bhagavad-gita, we learn that birth is that cause. From birth come old age, disease and death.
“When the embodied being is able to transcend these three modes, he can become free from birth, death, old age and their distresses and can enjoy nectar even in this life.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.20)
The soul is pure. It is transcendental to birth and death. Sort of how my identity is not determined by the uniform I wear, the soul does not come into existence at the time of birth. It is also not annihilated at the time of death. Upon birth a body composed of the three modes of material nature covers the soul. From that interaction with nature, all the problems of life follow. Even if there is repeated success, there is the impending death to consider. At death the cycle repeats, for birth is assured for one who dies.
“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.27)
A subsequent birth is guaranteed for all who die, with one exception. One who knows the transcendental nature of the appearance and disappearance of the Supreme Lord does not take birth again. Confirmation of this knowledge’s presence comes from the consciousness at the time of death. One who thinks of the Supreme Lord, knowing that He never takes birth or dies, does not have to assume a material covering again. They instead get transported to the spiritual realm, where body and soul are identical. In that realm there is full variety in activity, and there are no problems to solve, as the play does not have to stop. Time exists in that realm, but it has no influence. It does not diminish the bliss of interaction with God.
Knowing the nature of God and remembering it while quitting the body is the umbrella solution, so it would make sense to try to give this solution to as many as possible. Knowing God in full is very difficult, but the Bhagavad-gita provides help. One should have attachment to God in His original, personal form of Krishna and take up devotion to Him. In that devotion they will know Him in full, free from doubt.
“Now hear, O son of Pritha [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 7.1)
To have attachment to Krishna one should know about Him. Therefore a good way to help others is to teach them about Krishna. There is so much to explain as well, as God’s glories are limitless. Someone may not want to hear philosophy or the praise of a supreme being. In that case they can simply hear the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The holy name is identical with the person Krishna, and with enough chanting and hearing one will learn the Lord’s true nature. Armed with that knowledge, they will finally put an end to birth, the cause of all problems.
Some with onset of disease to struggle,
Others with lack of funds to grapple.
Aid to them you’d like to give,
So that without problems they’ll live.
From one or the other must choose,
Thus one group to win, the other to lose.
When end of birth and death the solution,
Everything fixed, from sadness to pollution.
The nature of the Supreme Lord know,
Have attachment and towards Him go.