Vanity thought #617. Calendar

Thinking about JC’s second coming reminded me of the relative importance of calendars in our lives. We all have them on the walls, shelves, desks, and lately on our phones and tablets. Every time I see one I automatically count the days until next holiday or at least weekend. Many people mark future dates on their calendars with a huge X and then watch how their lives slowly but steadily progress towards that date.

I once read an article about app developing business/hobby and how it’s a relatively easy way to supplement your income (if you have a good idea, of course). The app in question was “How many days until Christmas” and offered people nothing else but a simple countdown. The app proved to be so popular that the developer, who made it just as an experiment, was swamped with requests to make “How many days until birthday” and all kinds of similar dates – vacations, retirement, weddings, everything.

All people could do was to open the app and see the day count, nothing else. They were even willing to pay a dollar or two for each new version. It seems silly but so are our lives that revolve around trivial events.

I want a calendar that counts days until my death.

That’s the only future date that is of any real importance.

I can think of several ways how this countdown could be useful, how it would prevent me from wasting time on frivolous pursuits, for example. On the other hand it could still lull me with a false sense of security. Jagannatha Dasa Babaji lived for 120 years, anyone with such a long time in front of him would surely develop a laissez faire attitude to life, unless he is a self-realized person.

Still, seeing our life as slow dying is healthier for our spiritual progress than being caught in the illusion of eternity that comes with countdowns to birthdays or Christmases.

Ultimately, however, we should develop Krishna consciousness that is transcendental to even life changing events like discarding one’s body. For such a person death is inconsequential, and, perhaps, even fills him with regret that he accomplished so little in this human form of life.

For the rest of us, however, death is the time to argue the opposite – that we accomplished quite a lot, it’s even reflected in Isopanishad (verse 17): oḿ krato smara kṛtaḿ smara krato smara kṛtaḿ smara . This verse is also a reminder for us not to overestimate our devotion – it’s fine to hypothesize about how we would gladly accept service in the material world if the Lord wants us to but let’s wait until death actually comes – our determination might evaporate with the airs of our bodies.

Let’s not speculate how generous we will be when we earn a billion dollars either.

Anyway, the reality of our presence here is that it’s measured by the number of remaining breaths but for some reason we count our lives by the number of passed years. I guess it’s one of the features of the illusion, hiding the ugly reality of our end, but the actual clock should be available somewhere. Why wouldn’t the Lord let us look at it every now and then? Why don’t we get “Your death will come in … days” warnings?

I guess He has His own reasons but for all this hiding it better come as a pleasant surprise.

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