“Dear Lord, the dust of Your lotus feet is very wonderful. Any person who is fortunate enough to achieve this dust does not care for heavenly planets, lordship over all the planetary systems, the mystic perfections of yoga, or even liberation from material existence. In other words, anyone who adores the dust of Your lotus feet does not care a fig for all other perfectional stages.” (Naga-patnis, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.16.37)Download this episode (right click and save)
“Alright, let’s say I’m willing to acknowledge that thus far I haven’t made the best choices in life. I wanted money, and I got it. I wanted fame, and for a while I had that too. I wanted people to look up to me, and that has happened also. I’ve chased after so many things, and I’m still not happy. I don’t feel any peace. There’s no satisfaction.
I know you’re going to tell me to look to the spiritual, but I don’t see how that’s going to help. Isn’t it the same thing? You go after something, get it, and then remain unsatisfied. How is it any different? Why should I invest time in that process? What good will it do for me?”
According to the wives of the serpent Kaliya, the highest attainment in life is the dust of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The vision of His feet is enough, as those feet give the chance for endless service to the one person who is worthy of service from every living entity. The dust is better, as it is more humbling. It is a kind of magical substance that keeps the fire for service alive, and it is in that service that one finds the peace that otherwise eludes them.
How do we know that without getting the dust of God’s feet we are unsuccessful in life? There are two methods of gathering knowledge. One is the ascending process. In this route you start from nothing. Sort of like the child who has to learn different letters and words before being able to read a book, in the process of ascension you gather bits and pieces of information and work your way up.
Indeed, the life around us is so complex that the ascending process never seems to end. New studies get conducted for this very reason. One study debunks a previous one. Progress means that the previous point was imperfect. You can only progress from something that is incomplete. If there is perfection, there is no need to progress.
The other method of gathering knowledge is the descending process. This is where someone tells you the information directly. You don’t need to experience it. If someone tells me that one plus one equals two, that is the descending process. If I figure out that by taking one slice of pizza today and one slice tomorrow I have eaten two slices, that is the ascending process.
Each method has its strengths and weaknesses. If your authority figure is flawed, the descending process will hurt you. Think of someone who either misinforms you or lies to you directly. In the ascending process, you can at least figure things out for yourself; you put trust in your own perceptions and judgments. Of course the descending process saves a lot of time, especially when the authority source is bona fide.
The catch with spiritual life is that the ascending process will never work. Even if you don’t believe in a supreme being per se, there is still the existence of the complete whole. We tend to think of this in terms of space, but there is time to consider as well. Think of everything that has ever happened to every single living entity that has ever existed. Then think of everything that currently exists. Take these two together and you have an understanding of God. You may refer to Him as the complete whole, but the idea is the same.
In the ascending process, it is impossible to know this complete whole. First of all, there is the race against time. There is not enough time to study everything that has ever happened. One person can’t read all the works that have ever been published. Indeed, to read the works of a single author like Vyasadeva would take an entire lifetime. Then there is the processing of the information. Then there is the remembering of all the key points. In this way we see that there are great limitations.
In the descending process, you take the idea of God on authority. The idea of God is very complex, and it includes the tendencies of the human beings. In the famous Bhagavad-gita, important topics like the individual soul,the Supreme Controller, the relationship between the two, the material nature, karma and time are covered.
Through the descending process you can save a lot of time. So many others have chased after so many different things. From their experiences we can tell the result, namely of remaining unsatisfied. Much smaller in comparison is the number of individuals who have attempted to get the dust of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Though they are fewer in number, their recollections are still accessible.
From accessing that information, we learn that devotion is the only path towards peace. It is the only thing worth chasing, because the gift is the person who created this and every other universe. More than simply getting a vision of Him, devotion offers the opportunity for endless engagement. One victory after another, bliss added on top of bliss, and enthusiasm that grows stronger every day - these are the real rewards.
The path leading to this goal is laid out as well. In the present age there are too many distractions that get in the way of following all the rules and regulations of spiritual life. Man is generally short-lived, unfortunate, and not very smart. He makes identifications based on skin color, country of origin, religious tradition inherited from the parents, and even sexual preference.
Though living in a degraded time period, man still has the opportunity for service to the Divine’s feet. The pathway is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Though simple and straightforward, this process has tremendous potency. The power in the sound is what eventually yields the best result. This chanting is a form of meditation, and it brings knowledge from both within and without. The descending process gives the idea of God, and the practice of devotional service brings the practical realization of His transcendental greatness.
All that is, was and will be,
Time and space much too big to see.
Thus defective is process ascending,
Knowledge better coming descending.
On faith first accept God’s existence,
And then realize through work persistent.
Benefit from only the dust of feet getting,
Then into eternal service, misery forgetting.