On the Rising and Setting of the Sun
In my youth it was sort of a fad to climb a near-by mountain and watch the sun set. A beautiful sight awaited those of us who ventured to the top of this small mountain, and it seemed special, and certainly peaceful. This is an everyday event that is seldom noticed as we hurry along to our next destination, which however, may evoke some deeper reflections about our existence—which it did for me. One problem with normal life informed only by modern media, is that we become conditioned to see the extraordinary and profound, as common place (or only for economic gain), and we can lose the message that these events or things are meant to teach us. If we are to change our life for the best, we have to change our angle of vision. The Shrimad Bhagavatam and other such Vedic scriptures are meant to help us develop our appreciation for the lessons in life and Nature. One verse in the Bhagavatam inspired this blog: “Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.”
What this verse implies is that with every rising and setting of the sun, we move closer to the death of our body, and everything we have materially accumulated. This is not meant to be depressing, but to make way for the next part of the verse—life is wasted, except for those who use their valuable time spiritually, by hearing about the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, and the lila or activities of the Supreme Lord. If we do that, our life is successful, since we will be making progress toward our real spiritual home, with God, or Krishna, in the spiritual world.
When we truly accept that our nature is spiritual—not that we “have” a soul, but we are the soul—then that is a game changer. Like a person who has amnesia isn’t satisfied until they recover their memory of their identity, our duty as a soul is to revive our eternal consciousness, and spiritual normal condition. To embark on this duty or spiritual quest, we have to understand that our true and lasting happiness does not come from the body and its senses, but from the soul, and service to God. For many of us, this quest was facilitated by our perception of the shortcomings and misery of our personal life, and materialistic life in general.
Prabhupada often instructs us that the beginning of human life is to understand that a life of sense enjoyment is a life suffering, and as a result of this awareness, we are meant to inquire about how to solve this central problem. Such inquiry is facilitated by stepping back from life, deep introspection, and hearing from, and associating with sages who have standing, or experience in spirituality. The Vedic scriptures along with their commentaries are wise, enlightening words of sages, or the words of Krishna and his incarnations given to us by Vyasadeva, the literary incarnation of God. Then there are those sages who today walk amongst us, who live and see by the light of such scriptures, and the guidance of the Lord of their hearts. Such perspectives come from beyond this universe, and thus give us insights we normally miss. We learn how to live in the world, while not identifying our self with it, since we know we are eternal consciousness, and a spark of Divinity.
By studying this knowledge and doing our best to live by its wisdom, we will not look at things the same again. Everywhere we will be reminded of the existence of God, and the lessons he teaches us through everyday life. Every rising sun will see us busy in the matter of self-realization, and moving closer to reviving our eternal relationship with Krishna! And every setting the sun will find us reflecting on our we used our day for spiritual progress.