Career & Work
by Laxmimoni dasi
In the material world there's always some good thing and some bad thing. Nothing is perfect. We should see Krishna's hand in everything and accept it as His mercy. In this way we can be peaceful even in difficulty.
Offer everything to Krishna by offering the fruits of your work - and everything - to Him. Think that each thing you have has been given to you by His mercy and should be used for His pleasure as much as possible. Go to the temple regularly if at all possible, take the association of sincere devotees, give in charity, live simply, study shastra (scripture) and chant. These things will help you.
As far as "work-related prayers," you can try this one: "My dear Lord, by Your kindness You have given me this job. It is by Your mercy I have anything and therefore I will try to use whatever I can in Your service. I am small and insignificant but by Your mercy even a blind man can see, a lame man can climb mountains and a dumb man can speak excellent poetry. I am falling at Your feet and trying to be a humble servant. Please protect me and give me shelter."
I just started chanting 16 rounds, but for my new job I have to leave home at 8:30, work 9:30-6:30, and come back home at 8:00. How can I get up early enough to finish my rounds?
Hare Krishna! Thanks for your question! It is a common dilemma, especially these days, when everyone is working hard just to maintain a simple lifestyle.
You ask about getting up early. Getting up early depends on going to sleep early, so actually your early morning japa starts the night before!
The habits you maintain during the day will greatly influence your ability to get to sleep at night, for example: what you eat and when you eat it. It's very important that you don't eat heavy meals just before bed. Since you get home from work at 8, you're probably ready for dinner, so you'll have to arrange that dinner isn't too heavy a meal; not fried, no yogurt, not too much dahl and rice either. Vegetables and light roti/bread will be best, and eat only enough to satisfy your hunger. If you eat heavily, it will prevent you from rising early and also make you dull-headed when you first get up. Drink a lot of water during the day and, in general, eat fresh fruits and vegetables as much as possible.
You will also sleep best if you "wind down" by hearing something transcendental. Read a few pages or hear a tape, until you feel drowsy, and then go to bed. If you can get to bed even by 10:00 you will be able to rise by 6 and still get 8 hours rest. If you get to bed by 9, then you can rise at 5. Actually, you probably don't require 8 hours of sleep, but gradually work toward sleeping less if you're already used to more. If you can get down to even 7, that will give you more japa time before you go to work.
Also, when you rise in the morning, rise quickly. Don't allow your mind to lull you into lying around in bed. Get up and offer a prayer to your spiritual master or Lord Krishna, go directly to a cool shower (brush your teeth, etc.), then begin your japa...don't check e-mail or talk to anyone, etc., etc.; just chant.
Sometimes I find it helpful to chant in batches of 4 rounds at a time and then take a bit of a break, walk around, or stand if you were sitting, then chant another 4. Try not to stop before you have completed 12 rounds, or even 16...that will be best.
I hope these tips are helpful.
If I can be of further assistance please let me know.
There are two things going on here:
1. You like to skateboard.
2. You want to know: "Will it please Krishna if I skate?"
Answer: It depends. How can you know? Can you fly a plane for Krishna? Can you have a baby for Krishna? Can you make money for Krishna? Can you bake a pizza for Krishna? All these questions arise from one's material conditioning, a.k.a., psycho-physical nature. Pure devotional service is not based on material conditioning, but is the purest expression of one's very self. Srila Rupa Gosvami tells us that pure devotional service is unmotivated (you don't want anything in return), uninterrupted (you don't do it only when it's convenient or you feel like it; neither is it impeded by any material cause), and favorable (Krishna has to be pleased by it).
The point of being a devotee is to do what is pleasing to Krishna. The only way to really be sure is to consult the spiritual master. If you don't have one, then you are left with figuring it out on your own, or asking on Facebook. If you get ten different answers here, how will you know which one is right?
If you decide that skating is too important to you to give up, regardless of whether you can "do it for Krishna," then it's evident that it's a material desire, although that doesn't make it evil. It's just what you do.
So how can you *make* it be pleasing to Krishna? By dovetailing it. That's where you have to get creative, consult with senior devotees, and commit to your chosen way, not giving it up because of inconveniences and obstacles. Otherwise, you're just indulging your whims. To be able to dovetail anything in the service of the Lord is a method for both the very neophyte and and the very advanced devotee. The neophyte is too attached to give up their particular object or activity, and the advanced devotee sees everything as Krishna's energy and uses it accordingly. All the problems in ISKCON have resulted from devotees not being honest with themselves about which category they fall into. And don't be sentimental. Just because you say you're doing something for Krishna, or thinking of Him in a superficial way, doesn't make it service.
If skating is simply your desire, regulate the amount of time you skate and serve in other ways. But if you also feel like it's an authentic opportunity to give people Krishna, then think it through and develop a plan, and stick with the service until you break a leg or some better service comes your way.
"In the advanced stage of devotional service, the devotee does not see anything separate between his own interests and those of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Both interests become one, for the devotee does not act for a separate interest. Whatever he does, he does in the interest of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. At that time he sees everything in the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the Supreme Personality of Godhead in everything. Having attained this stage of understanding, he sees no distinction between the spiritual and material worlds. In perfect vision, the material world becomes the spiritual world due to its being the external energy of the Supreme Lord. For the perfect devotee, the energy and the energetic are nondifferent. Thus the so-called material world becomes spiritual (sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma). Everything is intended for the service of the Supreme Lord, and the expert devotee can utilize any so-called material thing for the Lord's service. One cannot serve the Lord without being situated on the spiritual platform. Thus if a so-called material thing is dovetailed in the service of the Lord, it is no longer to be considered material. Thus the pure devotee, in his perfect vision, sees from all angles."
You may not yet be a perfect devotee, but you can practice seeing everything, even skateboarding, as Krishna's energy, and act intelligently (with guidance when necessary) to figure out how to offer that particular energy to Him.
Hare Krishna! Thanks for your question.
In this life we're always worried about something; now it's exams, later it will be work, or family, or whatever. The goal of Krishna Consciousness is to always remember that Krishna is with us, supporting us, controlling the material energy and guiding our way.
Krishna is in our heart even if we don't remember that. We don't have to "keep" Him there—He's there of His own will. He will follow us around, birth after birth, waiting for us to remember Him and turn to Him for help. When we're in anxiety is when we depend on Him the most.
He will always be with us, so remember that and try to remain peaceful. Chant Hare Krishna and remember that ultimately He's in control of everything. Do your best and Krishna will do the rest.
I hope this is helpful.
Both donating to spread Krishna consciousness and chanting Krishna's names are good Krishna conscious activities. It depends on your own nature which one is better for you. It may not have to be an "either/or" situation. It's better to be an honest sweeper of the street than a charlatan meditator.
Most people can't fully engage in pure spiritual activities of hearing, chanting, and remembering Krishna all day. For them, it's better to be married and perform some honest work to maintain their families. You have to understand what you can do. You could try living in an ashrama for some time and see if that kind of life is for you.
Unfortunately, a certain amount of cheating sometimes goes on in business. This is unavoidable. If you change your business, you also may encounter the same thing. Arjuna was reluctant to fight on ethical grounds, but Krishna encouraged him to do his duty while constantly meditating on Him.
Srila Prabhupada said that a businessman should not give up his occupation because occasionally he has to lie. He mentions that a businessman says, "For you I make no profit." But without making a profit, how can he survive? Best is if you can keep dishonesty to a minimum, while maximizing your chanting, and making donations as you're able.
"Simple living"—as it applies to the philosophy and practice of Krishna consciousness—can mean many things, such as; freedom from greed and extravagance, straightforwardness in social dealings, focusing exclusively on serving the Supreme Person, and working honestly and in harmony with natural laws while depending on God's mercy. The English poet William Wordsworth wrote,
"Plain living and high thinking are no more:
The homely* beauty of the good old cause
Is gone; our peace, our fearful innocence,
And pure religion breathing household laws."
Srila Prabhupada may have had this poem in mind when he used the term 'simple living' to describe the ideal lifestyle for thoughtful people in general and devotees of Krishna specifically:
"Another feature of the devotee is nirihaya, simple living. Niriha means "gentle," "meek" or "simple." A devotee should not live very gorgeously and imitate a materialistic person. Plain living and high thinking are recommended for a devotee. He should accept only so much as he needs to keep the material body fit for the execution of devotional service. He should not eat or sleep more than is required. Simply eating for living, and not living for eating, and sleeping only six to seven hours a day are principles to be followed by devotees."(Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.22.24, Purport)
This sense of the word "simple" is rooted in the idea that an intelligent person should spend as much time as possible cultivating spiritual awareness and not get carried away by material circumstances or desires:
"The Vedic philosophy teaches that the top priority in life should be reawakening our relationship with the Lord. Therefore a sensible man should never allow himself to get so wrapped up in his material duties that they sap all his energy and kill his desire for serving Krishna. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who was both a great Vaishnava and a responsible magistrate in the Indian government, said that we should balance our material and spiritual needs, but that we should favor the latter. In other words, we should earn our livelihood in the spirit of simple living and high thinking." (Mukunda mala stotra, mantra 18)
Simple living requires minimizing bodily needs and accepting whatever comes by the arrangement of Providence. To this end, Srila Prabhupada always spoke in favor of local, self-sustaining, agrarian economies for meeting life's needs without over endeavor.
"When everyone is working in the city to produce nuts and bolts, who will produce food grains? Simple living and high thinking is the solution to economic problems. Therefore the Krishna consciousness movement in engaging devotees in producing their own food and living self-sufficiently so that rascals may see how one can live very peacefully, eat the food grains one has grown oneself, drink milk, and chant Hare Krishna." (Teachings of Queen Kunti, 18:)
In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna describes the ideal social system for simple living—varnashrama-dharma. In that model, people work according to their nature, for the common good, with the consciousness that everything belongs to the Supreme Person and life is meant for serving Him.
"Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong."(Sri Isopanishad, Mantra 1)
Simple living essentially means living to please God. Individual applications of this may differ. At the time of this writing, most of us are not living an agrarian lifestyle; varnashrama-dharma is not the current world model for civilization. It remains our own responsibility to apply such principles in our own lives by seeking guidance from scripture and spiritually advanced persons.
The process is indeed simple, but the application is likely to keep us fully occupied during this lifetime. Again and again, at higher and higher levels along our spiritual path, we will likely find ourselves referring to "simple living" guidelines such as these:
"One's devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) overendeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) Practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Krishna consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements."(Upadeshamrita 2)
. . .and on the positive side:
"There are six principles favorable to the execution of pure devotional service: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavoring with confidence, (3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles [such as
Perhaps it's not so simple to live simply in this day and age, but if it weren't possible at all it wouldn't be so highly recommended—and therefore such a worthwhile endeavor.
*In context, the word "homely" also means unsophisticated and unpretentious, qualities even more sorely lacking in present-day society than in 1802, when the poem was written.