“Tulsi says that one who is content with the happiness and material profit they receive in life, who has love for Rama’s lotus feet, and whose mind is like a restrained horse, living in the forest or a house is the same for them.” (Dohavali, 62)
jathā lābha santo।sa sukha raghubara carana saneha |
tulasī jo mana khūm̐da sama kānana basahum̐ ki geha ||62||
When is it enough? How much money should a person earn? How many titles should a champion accept before they retire? Is it possible to have a limit? Goswami Tulsidas says that a person should be content with whatever happiness and material profit they get. This is not only his opinion; it is supported by Vedic philosophy, which teaches the science of self-realization. That science also shows the way to reaching the point where the mind is fully content, where it is restrained and yet powerful at the same time.
The example used here is the horse. It can veer off course at any time. The expert rider knows how to control the horse, but this doesn’t mean that the horse no longer has value. When its rear legs are tied, the potential for action remains, but there is control. When needed the horse can be let loose, but it will still be controlled by the rider.
We can look to the automobile for a modern-day example. The odometer on the dashboard can reach over 100 miles per hour, but this is not really a safe driving speed, nor is it allowed by the law in most circumstances. Barring the odd, empty road, there is always a speed limit posted that is much below the maximum marker on the odometer. The car is thus very powerful, but it needs to be controlled. Otherwise there could be danger.
One should be happy with what they get in life. This is because the results are due to past actions. No effort needs to be made to find happiness. Both happiness and its counterpart, sadness, arrive in due course, like the summer and winter seasons. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that happiness and sadness arise due to sense perception only. They are more mental than anything. The wise person should not be disturbed by them.
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya
tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata
“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)
One person takes birth in a rich family. The palace-type house is the only one they’ve experienced. Another person grows up in a moderate size home. Both people should remain content. Material profit means there is potential for changing the circumstances. The rich person can opt for a meager lifestyle and the poor person can work their way up towards a larger home.
The Vedic recommendation is to remain satisfied. That is difficult to do on your own. Tulsidas gives the necessary accompanying factor. He says there should be love for Rama’s lotus feet. This love is not expensive. It doesn’t require enrollment in a four year college and the accompanying student loan debt. It doesn’t require strenuous effort. It can be practiced anywhere, in fact.
That love can exist in the remote forest, where there are little distractions. The sannyasi is a professional wanderer. This institution is the last of the four mentioned in the varnashrama system. A sannyasi doesn’t have to worry about how, where and what to eat. They don’t have to concern themselves with maintaining a home. They roam constantly and accept the mercy of others. This frees up time for loving the lotus feet of Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord. The fact that Rama has feet means that God is a person. His feet are amazing in that they can accept love from many people simultaneously. His feet have the ability to deliver supreme satisfaction and contentment to the worshiper.
Since love is the goal, maintaining a home doesn’t disqualify a person from receiving Rama’s mercy. Coupled with the contentment is control of the mind. If you are living in the wilderness and your mind is not controlled, the meager surroundings have no effect on you. If you’re living in a house but not stressed by the pressure to maintain, then you are well-situated. Just because a person travels all the time it doesn’t mean that they are any happier than the person who doesn’t. And just because someone has everything in the home it doesn’t mean that they are automatically content.
Destiny in terms of material rewards should be accepted without objection. Spiritual destiny should be eagerly sought out, as it brings the real form of happiness. That destiny can be created through work done in this valuable human form of life. Love for God is both the means and the objective, and in this age it is easily practiced through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Not more or less should expect,
The destiny from past karma accept.
Like horses with legs restrained,
Keep mind’s desires contained.
Then no matter living where,
Can practice bhakti there.
Have love for Rama’s lotus feet,
And your spiritual destiny meet.