My yesterday’s point was that life does not always appear short. From Kṛṣṇa conscious POV it is always short because our ultimate goal, love of Kṛṣṇa, is indefinitely far while our time in these bodies is limited but it isn’t a fair standard to apply to everyday life.
Technically, it might be true but it doesn’t affect our daily perception of time flow. Maybe once in a while we have an epiphany and decide to become pure devotees right there and then but as years go by we become more and more skeptical about such bouts of devotion. Illusion always creeps back in and so we have to deal with time as we perceive it in our material minds, not the absolute, spiritual reality of things.
Is it better to feel that life is short then? Or is it better to see it as long? Yesterday I argued that transition from passion driven youth to wise patience of older people is a sign of maturity so it appears as a vote in favor of “long”. I need to say here that as people settle in their new, retired routine time starts flying again and they might count their age in decades rather than years. Kids, on the other hand, say things like “I’m three and a half years old”.
Another thing I argued yesterday is that these transitions are natural and varṇāśrama system prescribes certain duties and rules to take full advantage of them. Once people have done with their gṛhastha duties they must withdraw from social life and start practicing austerities and renunciation. I also said that this is exactly what they want to do so it comes naturally to them.
Those of us raised in a western civilization might not be as inclined to peaceful and spiritual retirement but I believe even western environment can’t totally screw up our biological clocks in this regard. We might find this transition a little less welcome and even uncomfortable but that is also natural – that’s why first there’s vānaprastha where one still stays with his wife and even on first stages of sannyāsa one is supposed to be close to his family and they are supposed to bring him food to ease him into it. Tasty and homemade, just as he likes it. Total renunciation is never an abrupt process unless one has been truly blessed by the Lord.
This appears as another argument in favor of “life is long” view as being more mature but don’t be fooled by appearances. Yes, one might appear as more mature and his progress to the next āśrama is a progress but one must also remember that following varṇāśrama might take thousands and thousands of years. What is progress in this life is a first step in the next and Kṛṣṇa prema will remain as unattainable as ever. Yes, it’s a step in the right direction but in overall scheme of things it’s still nothing.
One might say that next life doesn’t begin exactly where one has left off in previous incarnation and wisdom and renunciation need to be build up again but those are material considerations. Yes, we loose wisdom and patience and go through childhood and youth again but our spiritual progress never rolls back. By becoming a newborn baby we do not lose our devotion and our attraction to Kṛṣṇa, it just manifests differently, if at all.
It would serve us better to keep perspective on these things – external and internal levels of devotion are rarely in total sync with each other. Younger devotees might appear as restless and unfocused in their practice but that doesn’t mean they can’t possess much higher levels of bhakti. Likewise, older devotees might exude maturity and wisdom but that doesn’t mean their hearts are full of love for the Lord.
Wise, austere, and knowledgeable personalities are not always exemplary devotees – just look at different schools of Vedanta. True followers of Śaṅkarācarya and even Buddhists can be very austere, very renounced, very wise, balanced, and peaceful but they don’t have even a shred of devotion. Who needs this kind of maturity? It has no value whatsoever.
Personally, I’ve noticed that I have been losing interest in hot issues of the day and it might look like a sign of maturity and loss of interest in social life in general but it isn’t the full picture. For now it only covers topics related to ISKCON, my mind is still as tormented as ever about all the other things that are wrong with the universe, I just don’t think they need to be shared in this particular space.
Maybe the real problem is that these other topics consume all my mental resources and I have not lost interest in debates on devotion, I just assigned them a low priority. This can be fixed and this needed to be fixed. The idea of sādhana bhakti is to engage our bodies in Kṛṣṇa related activities and so it’s much better to agonize over contradictory ways of spreading our mission than over situation in Ukraine, for example. Apparently it has been divisive even for devotees living there but I didn’t see anything myself, probably it was nipped in the bud by local leaders and GBC.
I shouldn’t really care about what they do in that country. Śrila Prabhupāda didn’t talk a lot about Hitler or WWII and that conflict must have been far more engaging than anything we go through in modern times. He didn’t talk much about Gandhi and Indian independence movement either, only that it distracts people from pursuing real goals of life and is not worth wasting time on. He met Śrila Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī when he was very much involved in battle for independence but was cut down immediately – spiritual life must come first regardless of what is going on in the outside world.
Once, when Vaṃśīdāsa Bābājī traveled around India, he was approached by some businessmen for his predictions on how the WWII was going to affect their business. Vaṃśīdāsa Bābājī didn’t even know there was a war, just totally skipped his mind.
I wish I was the same but it might take many more years and decades for me to lose interest in news and politics. My mind just can’t seem to shut up about it. Between this, sex, and job there’s hardly any time left to contemplate devotional subjects and these three topics combined take maybe 90% of my time even when I chant. There’s food, too.
On top of all that I already feel that life is unbearably long so I get the worst of both worlds – mental anxiety of youth and boredom of old age simultaneously. Is chanting going to fix all that? I hope so, but ATM instead of healing I’m only shown true extent of my problems. This might be a necessary step but it doesn’t feel much like progress anywhere.
Still, I have no other choice but to chant and wait it out