There are a lot of things to learn about workings of this world, what’s the point, though?
What practical advantages can we extract from knowing that the future doesn’t exist, for example? I mean future in a sense of uncertainty, because technically speaking “future” is no different from the “past”, as I showed yesterday.
What do we do with our lives when we know that we have absolutely no control over it, when we realize there’s no such thing as free will? Keep arguing otherwise? Settle down and lose interest in the world? Give up our service, too? Stop trying to become better devotees? Stop trying to control our minds or strictly follow our regulative principles?
When some people learn they’ve got terminal cancer they feel like they are not obliged to do anything, some people feel that their obligations is all that is left. Some people compile their “bucket lists”, some lose all interest and withdraw instead.
What should we do as devotees?
In one word – chant.
The only point of acquiring knowledge is to convince ourselves that chanting is the best and the only viable activity in this world. Our minds beg to see it differently, they want things, our intelligence remembers all the good times and agrees with the mind when it wants something, and so we live under the illusion that we are the doers and enjoyers of the world.
Real knowledge, however, would tell us that investing ourselves in manipulating matter to our advantage is wasteful, that we are only cheating ourselves if we take this course of action.
So, how should that affect our chanting?
In the beginning we chant when we are in trouble. We think that by chanting we can improve our lives, we can get better jobs, more money, or that Krishna might help us to find those darn keys. Every time we find ourselves in trouble we turn to Krishna. “Please help me here, please help me there, I want this, I want that, I have this perfect plan and with Your help it will surely come through. I’m sure this is the right thing to do but the material nature is so uncooperative, please help me to get it going.”
With a little maturity we realize that not everything we want or plan for ourselves is actually good. Then we start praying for Krishna to take charge of our lives, whatever He feels is the best for us, we promise to accept it. “I don’t know who to marry, please show me the girl. I don’t know where to go, please show me the way. I don’t know what career I should pursue, please give me a sign”.
With this attitude we trust Krishna more but we also expect Him to fix our problems, we just don’t insist on our own solutions.
All these things occupy our minds during japa, it’s unavoidable, and we think that approaching Krishna is the right thing to do. Sometimes we catch ourselves and pull our minds back to listening and chanting but the overall ambiance is still there – we chant because we want things, we want the better things, we want the best things in this world.
With real knowledge, however, it all loses sense. There’s no point in trying to find the best way to improve our lives, with or without Krishna. Things are going to happen anyway and Krishna is not going to mess with them for our pleasure.
When thoughts come into the mind about solving this or that it’s not “I want it that way” anymore, and it’s not “Let Krishna do it, He knows better”, but rather total disinterest and disengagement. “Shoo! Shoo!”, we must tell our thoughts, “not now, now is the time to listen to the Holy Name, all your mundane problem solving can wait.”
Normally one would feel an obligation to take care of things – health, family, money, chores etc, but equipped with real knowledge that just goes away. Will I be blamed for not performing my duty? Yes, probably, but my chanting should prepare me to face that blame with detachment rather than try to avoid it.
I take interest in controlling this world because it feels good, even if I know it’s illusion, and I really empathize with my mind because it simply doesn’t know any better, it just doesn’t have taste in Krishna. Yet. I’m going to change that, slowly, step by step, Name by Name, taste will come.
I’m sorry that daydreaming and fantasizing about this and that feels so good, with the power of knowledge, which can be very persuasive, I’m going to train my mind to listen to the Holy Name instead. It’s going to take time but I can already feel the power of the Name. It’s not in the taste yet but somehow it’s already compelling.
Knowing that we don’t have to worry about anything at all can also be very liberating, just sit and chant, Name by Name, mantra by mantra, round by round. The world can go to hell, or it can stay, when listening to the Holy Name in such a state the universe practically ceases to exist.