Vanity thought #1000. The one with many zeros

The title of this post is not just a reflection on its number but a fair description of myself, too – I am the one with many zeros. There’s nothing special about me here, though, we are all more or less in the same place, and it’s not in front of those zeros as we imagine ourselves.

Typically, having many zeros would imply a big bank balance so you think you are the one in front of all those zeros making them into a nice big number. The more zeros the better and your worth goes up.

This is an illusion, of course, zeros are zeros, they have no value. Whatever we possess here is nothing, and it’s not only the money – wealth, health, family, career, achievements – none of that accounts for anything when we decide to approach the Lord. We can put ourselves in front, imagining ourselves to be the ones responsible for our collection of zeros, but it only strokes our ego and doesn’t impress Kṛṣṇa in the slightest.

Śrila Prabhupāda recommended that we put Kṛṣṇa in front instead, then all our zeros will immediately obtain great value – in Kṛṣṇa’s eyes, of course, because then He would be thinking of Himself as the owner all those nice fat zeros we provide. Instead of our ego we better stroke His instead.

This makes sense until we start expecting the same humility from Kṛṣṇa, too. It’s a psychological trap of sorts – we need to become humble to chant the Holy Name and this puts great value on humility, and when we think of Kṛṣṇa we expect Him to possess the same values as we appreciate ourselves, so He should be humble, too.

I guess relationships where Kṛṣṇa displays greatest humility are possible in the spiritual world but for conditioned souls such expectations are erroneous. Down here we are lowly servants and never equals, what to speak of Kṛṣṇa’s superiors. Mother Yaśodā can teach Kṛṣṇa to be humble, Nanda Mahārāja can expect Kṛṣṇa to display humility, gopīs might even humiliate Him but we are not there yet, we can only serve with deepest respect and reverence.

It’s hard to let go of our desire to possess as many zeros as possible but there’s no other way. On the other hand we can’t renounce our zeros if we still have great attachment for them – we shouldn’t pretend to be saintlier than we really are. In bhakti yoga we renounce things but developing stronger attachment to Kṛṣṇa, it’s not a renunciation in a common sense of the world, we just stop caring.

Sometimes I think why I still call my posts “vanity thoughts”. In the beginning I wanted this blog to be playful, I wanted to find apparent contradictions and then solve them in Kṛṣṇa’s favor, it wasn’t meant to be serious. Gradually things changed and the blog became more straightforward – I don’t even remember when was the last time I saw something odd about Kṛṣṇa consciousness that could be made fun of.

Becoming more serious isn’t a sign of progress per se – it’s a lot easier to write serious things than playful ones. To be honest, I just don’t have time to contemplate Kṛṣṇa conscious matters long enough to see their unusual sides and discover new angles.

On the other hand – what would that achieve? No one earns Kṛṣṇa’s favor by being a smartass. It would help to understand relevant subjects deeper and in greater detail but what good is that? On the surface it appears that better understanding is “better” but understanding is just another material zero. At first it looks like a nice thing to have but, as cash in the mattress, it devalues very fast. Two-three years later and you can’t remember anything about it anymore.

I’ve tried memorizing ślokas on numerous occasions but the problem is that I can’t remember them long enough to remember when I need them. Young people might not have such a problem but age takes toll on mental faculties. Even Śrila Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī had a devotee to provide quotes for him in his later years, he just couldn’t remember them himself, and that was when he was only about sixty.

So, what’s the point in trying to know and understand everything? It’s okay to gobble up knowledge when you are young but eventually we need to find a more suitable engagement for our mind and intelligence. Maybe we should complete the circle of life and become like children again. I bet everyone has heard of this definition of success – that’s what I’m talking about but in regards to our mind.

Children can hear the same simple story over and over again and enjoy reliving it in their minds without ever getting bored. As we grow older we need more stories, new experiences, unexpected twists, boredom becomes a real threat and an enemy. As we grow old, however, maybe it’s time to hear the same Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes again and again and find them always refreshing and tasteful just as when we were kids. Well, most of us didn’t hear stories about Kṛṣṇa in our childhood but you know what I mean.

Wouldn’t that be great – to find complete satisfaction in re-reading Kṛṣṇa Book for a thousandth time? There are examples of senior devotees developing such a taste, it comes naturally just as sex drive eventually disappears and stops bothering us.

Is it a sign of genuine devotion, though? Not necessarily, I think. It’s just what old people do. There’s no principal difference between reading one story multiple times and reading millions of stories without ever finishing them as long as they all about Kṛṣṇa. In one case it all registers very well in our minds, in another case it goes into one ear and exits through another but our memory and intelligence are material objects, they are zeros, some fatter than others but still without any real value.

We won’t be taking our memory with us to the spiritual world. It seems important to us now and we can relish recollecting favorite moments from our lives but we won’t be taking these memories even if we reincarnate into another material body. What use would they be in the spiritual world? If we keep them and like them so much they might become a reason to turn our backs on Kṛṣṇa once again. Who needs that?

So, I’ll continue calling these posts “vanity thoughts” because that’s what they are – temporary placeholders for the mind that can’t find shelter at Kṛṣṇa’s feet. Can’t even concentrate on seeking that shelter and so needs some local, material engagement instead.

As long as these thoughts are connected to Kṛṣṇa I should be okay and that’s all that matters. At the end of the day He should be the one in front of all our zeros so adding another zero to my post count is not a bad thing per se, I just hope He can find use for it


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