If in paramahamsa vision, which is correct, free from illusion perception of reality, the world is perfect and doesn’t need any kind of improvements, does it mean we can give in to laziness and stop trying to make progress? Progress means improvement, after all. Does it mean we can relinquish all personal responsibility and leave everything “up to Krishna”? I think the answer would be a typical Hare Krishna’s “yes and no, depends on your consciousness”.
We have so many radical answers to common questions about life, the universe and everything, for us it’s never 42, but then we turn around and do exactly the same thing as any garden variety materialist so it must be puzzling to the general public. Actually it isn’t, they simply conclude that we are only pretending to be special, and that’s not the impression we were originally going for.
Easy example is health – if we are not the body, as we hurriedly tell people at the beginning of every conversation, why don’t we stop grooming ourselves, feeding ourselves, or taking ourselves to the doctor? At first we say “Yes, none of those things really matter” but then we find a million excuses why we continue living as usual. We need to be presentable for the sake of preaching. We need to feed the body Krishna prasadam because it’s our service, almost like our sacred duty, and it’s also purifying, and we need to see doctors because our bodies are instruments of guru and Krishna and so we need to take extra care about them because of this extra responsibility.
We are very clever that way, we don’t spend even a moment on the stage of paramahamsas like Sukadeva Goswami or Jada Bharata, and go straight for parivrajaka acharya goshthi anandi kind of behavior. We say our consciousness is radically different, but is it really? If we are so advanced, can we go back to “ordinary” paramahamsa for a day or two and show the world that relying only on Krishna works?
Why don’t we practice being pythons – accepting only food that comes on its own, according to our karma? Why is it that our prasadam comes from fully equipped kitchens cooked by numerous elves instead? We say Krishna likes it that way, we cook for Him and then take whatever is left. “Whatever”? Has He ever actually taken anything from our plates? If He did there would be a riot on any given Sunday. We say that it’s Krishna’s mercy that all our offerings are available for us to honor afterwards, that He never actually takes anything away from His devotees etc etc. Well, Lord Chaitanya actually ate at the house of Mother Saci. He showed up and ate everything, leaving nothing on plates and Mother Saci thought she was suffering from Alzheimer’s and forgotten to cook.
I’m afraid we are not prepared for that kind of relationship with the Lord, and general people think that we are being pretentious.
So, if all the work is carried out by the modes of material nature, can’t we just leave it alone and give in to laziness? Yes and no, and “no” would be our actual guiding principle, we never even explore the possibilities of “yes”. It’s for guru and Krishna, we say, we need to serve them, we have world to preach to, we are on a mission, we cannot be lazy, we have sadhana.
These are all good, mature answers, but are we ourselves mature enough to practice what we preach? Are we really doing it for Krishna without a hint of material desires? Yes and no, we’d say. “No” because it’s obvious we are not yet pure devotees and “yes” because we follow the instructions of the guru so in that sense we are pure.
I’d say it’s perfectly okay to be lazy. Try it, there’s no loss in it, and when at the end we realize that actively engaging all our senses is a better option we’d know it to be true from practical experience.
All work is indeed carried out by the modes of nature. We can try to be lazy but the mode of passion will force us to work no matter what we try, it’s actually scary to see its power of persuasion. We can, of course, take shelter of the mode of ignorance, which is where laziness comes from, but in this experiment we shouldn’t do that, we are there to observe, not to take shelter, that is to say we shouldn’t tell ourselves it’s okay to enjoy being lazy, we shouldn’t switch our intelligence off.
Then we’ll see that being lazy is not easy – without mode of ignorance that won’t even happen and when it does it never lasts, too. Then we’ll observe the power of passion, then we’ll see results of both passion and ignorance, and if we keep our intelligence alert we’ll realize what being in goodness means, what it feels like being detached and so on. The problem is that without mode of goodness we won’t learn that either, we are absolutely helpless here.
Then we will realize that the soul is the only active principle that is truly ours. It will happen when, by the mercy of Krishna and the modes of nature, we finally learn to distance ourselves from the work of the gunas. Then, when we learn to see ourselves as active souls, we will be able to engage in Krishna’s service without any other motivations.
It’s very hard to let the world go, however. It’s unthinkable for us to “drop the ball”, we can’t imagine that the world will keep going without our involvement. We think that our contribution to it is absolutely crucial and irreplaceable.
It’s okay to be lazy, I’d say, just leave it to Krishna, He’ll take care of everything. We don’t have to do anything in this world, we are specifically asked to give up all the duties we assume as ours here – sarva dharman parityajya. This “letting go” is not the only way and probably not the best way to attain spiritual realization but nevertheless it’s a useful exercise every now and then.
Of course, when we are given job to do by our guru we can’t give it up, just like Krishna told Arjuna to reject all duties while urging him to fight and Arjuna couldn’t ignore Him. When we have a mission we have a mission, we can’t upset our guru with our experiments, but I think it’d be safe to say that we aren’t engaged 24/7 yet and so we can find time to play around with the world, see if it works under our control or under someone else’s.
If we happen to see that it works just fine on its own we’ll reach the stage of paramahamsas, and if we happen to see that it works under Krishna’s directions we’ll reach the stage of pure devotees.
As I said – there’s nothing to lose here.