A New Year and the Passing of Time!
There is saying most of us have heard: "We are born with nothing, and leave with nothing". All degrees, titles, wealth, properties, homes, material facilities and relationships must be left behind at death. For the materialist, death is a manifestation of God, the controller of life and time. For a devotee, Krishna is the life of our life, the consciousness of our consciousness, the heart of our heart! He is all sided, everything. He light, and darkness, the beginning, middle and end! He is the biggest and the smallest, and although he pervades all things, he is in our heart and is present in his eternal abode as the indestructible, inconceivable, all-merciful source of all. In a more personal, endearing and higher sense, he is our dear-most friend, well-wisher, and the love of our life!
The passage of time is so instructive to all of us. Time or Kala, represents Krishna ("Time I am."), and can't be overcome by all the wealth or material facilities of the world. As the saying goes, "Time and tide wait for no man." Time is more precious then gold, and once a moment is gone, it is gone forever. How should we apply this in our life as an aspiring devotee?
Although the soul is eternal, it has appeared under the conditions of matter which includes the limitations of time. Of course as with many things time is a many edged sword. Time brings to fruition our potential and also takes away material facilities. In this life we have a certain amount of time, and by spirituality or Krishna consciousness we learn the best way to use our time. "In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear". (Bhagavad gita 2.40)
So how to use our time for the best purpose? Prabhupada and all Krishna conscious teachers educate us what that is:
"Just like you'll find in the Bhagavad-gita that Krishna requesting Arjuna to become a yogi, but He never asked him to cease from the fight. How one can become a yogi, at the same time remain a fighter? That, a practical example you see. Krishna is asking Arjuna, tasmad yogi bhavarjuna. "My dear Arjuna, therefore you become a yogi." But at the same time, He's asking to fight. Now, we know the yogi sits down at a place and meditates and concentrates his mind and controls his senses. How is that he is fighting, at the same time yogi? Huh? This is the mystery of Bhagavad-gita. You can remain a fighting man, at the same time the highest yogi, highest sannyasi. How? In Krishna consciousness. You have to fight for Krishna. That's all. That is the secret. That is the secret. If you fight for Krishna...work for Krishna, if you eat for Krishna, if you sleep for Krishna, if you do everything for Krishna, then you are the yogi, you are the sannyasi, and you are everything. That is the secret of Bhagavad-gita. It is practical example." Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita lecture 6.1-4 -- New York, September 2, 1966
If we lose everything at death, does anything remain? The one thing that is constant, is our good or bad karma, and our consciousness which create our next birth. For a devotee there is our development through the stages of spiritual awakening which culminate in Prema or love of Krishna. That is our real wealth.
"Instead of becoming a pseudo transcendentalist for the sake of wanton living and sense enjoyment, it is far better to remain in one's own business and execute the purpose of life, which is to get free from material bondage and enter into the kingdom of God. The prime svartha-gati, or goal of self-interest, is to reach Visnu [or Krishna]. The whole institution of varna and ashrama is designed to help us reach this goal of life.
"A householder can also reach this destination by regulated service in Krishna consciousness. For self-realization, one can live a controlled life, as prescribed in the shastras, and continue carrying out his business without attachment, and in that way make progress. A sincere person who follows this method is far better situated than the false pretender who adopts show--bottle spiritualism to cheat the innocent public. A sincere sweeper in the street is far better than the charlatan meditator who meditates only for the sake of making a living." [Prabhupada's purport to Bg 3.7]
There are many ways to take stock of how we have spent the past, and to set goals and aspirations for the future. The secular new year is one, as are special appearance days of the Lord and our gurus. For instance, the Gaudiya New Year is the appearance day of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the most merciful incarnation for our present age. Then there is Janmastami, Krishna's appearance observance for his advent 5,000 years ago followed by my spiritual masters appearance day or for me Vyasa puja.
The appearance day of one's guru is especially significant since he or she gave us a second birth into our eternal spiritual life. Usually on the appearance day of one's guru, a disciple writes a homage to glorify their guru and remember their indebtedness to them for kindly giving spiritual instruction and association to save us. The guru's appearance day is also referred to as Vyasa-puja, since the guru, amongst other persons, represents Vyasa, the literary incarnation of God who wrote down all the Vedas.
For many people setting New Years resolutions is a type of ritual for the new year. Yet it is also known that most people are not able to keep them. It is not a bad idea of course. I believe firmly in the power of intentions--but carefully considered as to what can actually be carried out.
So I hope you will take this time to reflect on the past year--your successes and areas where you fell short. Looking ahead how will you improve your spiritual practices and your life in general which is meant to give support to them and to your family, occupation etc. What can you do to increase your dependence on Krishna as your ever well wishing friend, and to appreciate his devotees, who despite their faults are our friends and helpers on the path of Bhakti. Service is our bond together. Service is our solace, love is our goal!
I wish you, my friends and readers, the very best for the new year--and every year for your whole life. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my spiritual journey and what I have found helpful in Krishna consciousness. I am a work in progress, as we all are. We are meant to gain strength and faith in the association of devotees. Krishna.com is one way to receive it and to inspire us to search it out in the "real world" as well. I would like to thank all the devotee who maintain and support Krishna.com! I ask you all to please pray to your gurus, Prabhupada, and Lord Krishna that I may be able to continue my service of writing here! It is a real blessing for me! We are all living and serving by their mercy alone!