“You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.47)Download this episode (right click and save)
You don’t have to change your occupation. You don’t have to run off to a forest. You are not compelled to shave your head and join a religious institution. Bhakti is at the very core of the soul, which is the essence of identity. Devotion to God the person is the original condition, and in material life that fact is forgotten. While a conversion in mentality is necessary, a wholesale change of behavior isn’t an absolute requirement. A simple change in nature of everyday activities, from unfavorable to favorable, can do wonders.
Does anyone really like to work? There is the saying that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. Nevertheless, work is responsibility. Responsibility is burden. Burden is troublesome. Pressure can be detrimental to the health, both mental and physical.
According to Vedic philosophy, work, which goes by the term karma, leads to attachments. For starters, there is the influence of the false ego, ahankara, which makes me think that I am the doer in actions. I certainly make the decision to act, but the results manifest according to the will of nature.
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)
Karma brings consequences, known as phala in Sanskrit. These are fruits. Like sowing the seed and waiting for the plant to arise, everything we do has a future consequence. More specifically, karma develops a future body for the spirit soul, which is supposed to be body-less in the original condition.
Work is made favorable when attachment to the fruits is renounced. There is a specific verse in the Bhagavad-gita touching upon this. The disciple Arjuna is advised to continue in his occupation of warrior, but to work without attachment to the outcome. The easiest way to change the nature of work is to dovetail everything for the interest of the Supreme Lord. Then the karma morphs into bhakti.
Most everyone who can read does so on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be romance novels or a historical epic. It doesn’t have to be magazines or the daily newspaper, either. Just pull up the smartphone and you are immediately reading. Characters represent a sort of code to create sound vibrations in the mind. The reader deciphers these codes and is able to receive messages as a result.
Reading is made favorable when it is joined with information about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. Since He is an individual with a separate and unique identity, there is so much to know about Him. It is said that the Vedas, the original scriptural tradition of the world, continue to expand because there is never an end to the glories of God. What one person has written is never sufficient for describing the greatness of the different aspects of the all-attractive one.
“That darn song is stuck in my head. Thanks to my wife, who kept playing it over and over, I can’t get it out of my head. I don’t even like the song. Now I find myself singing it in the shower. I’d rather sing one of the songs that I like.”
The best way to purify this everyday activity is to sing about the glories of God. Not really sure what things to sing about? Just chant His names. The names are conveniently placed in a wonderful sequence in the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
Make a test of it. Try singing this mantra in one of the many already available melodies. Singing this over and over has a different effect than hearing any mundane song on repeat. The magic lies in the potency of the name itself, which is non-different from the person it represents.
The news media is nothing more than a toggle, an up/down switch. They take a famous person, who is important either for their entertainment value or the influence they wield over others, and then either praise them or disparage them. Sometimes the same person gets both sides in the course of a lifetime. First they are praised for their charitable work and their success in competition. Then later it is discovered that they cheated. Now the same person who was built up by the news media is torn to shreds. No apologies are forthcoming from the people who raised that celebrity to the highest status in the first place. There is no shame in now turning around and reversing the opinion.
Writing is purified when it is done in favor of the Supreme Lord. There is so much good to write about. In the devotional mood, bhakti, even criticism is a way to become closer to God. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam there are many passages of devoted souls laying into the Supreme Lord, making fun of Him and criticizing His behavior. Since they are devoted at heart, God enjoys these words more than the praises sung by the Vedas.
There is a way to eat karma-free. Eating is action, after all. There is both preparation and consumption. Like sleeping, eating should be done in moderation. Too much or too little is harmful. There is a mindset that goes into the eating of food, where desire determines the nature and the result.
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)
In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that if a person offers Him something simple like a leaf or a flower, He accepts. The key is the mood. There must be bhakti, or devotion. Krishna eats in an interesting way. He glances over the offering and then returns it. The remnants are known as prasadam, or the Lord’s mercy. The devotees are saved from so many sinful reactions because they honor these remnants.
“The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.13)
Preparing food for sense enjoyment is sinful in the sense that it creates karma for a future body. The perfection of consciousness remains in the distance.
In this way we see that to change from material to spiritual in consciousness is not that difficult. Just shifting the nature of activities we already engage in does the trick. The change brings the greatest benefit of continued consciousness of the Supreme Lord, who is the savior of the surrendered souls.
Do work, but consciousness alter,
Responsibility to others defer.
Things that already accustomed to do,
Like eating, singing, even writing too.
About the Supreme Lord just make,
And benefit of karma’s dismissal take.
To leave for forest not required,
Just by bhakti’s love be inspired.