Saturday, January 19, 2013
now vs. later
Here we see Arjuna ponder the question that we face on a daily basis. What's more important - immediate or delayed gratification ? Although everyone likes to say that it's the delayed or long-term rewards that are normally more important, it's very much easier said than done.
The main reason for that is because attaining delayed results requires sacrifice. It requires that we work, without necessarily seeing any results right away, and it also means we need to have faith that what we're doing is worthwhile. If there's no faith, then we'll lose the determination to continue on when we hit one of those "Why am I doing this again?" moments.
This point is so relevant to any aspiring bhakti practitioner because sometimes you feel like nothing is happening. It's very, very common. Long-time practitioners often say that when they first began practicing bhakti yoga it was like ambrosia. They felt the presence of Krsna, everything seemed to come so easy and they felt so happy. But then...the shoe dropped. All of a sudden everything became so difficult. They started seeing so many negative aspects of themselves, they found it difficult to follow various spiritual principles and were shocked.
What happened? The answer these practitioners gave was simple. See, Krsna is the ultimate salesperson. Know when you go to a store and they give you a free sample and you really like it? Well what happens if you want more? Sure maybe the really nice samplers might sneak you an extra one but if you really want more you have to pay. That's right! Where do you think that concept came from? Krsna of course!
So similarly Krsna will give you some free samples. He'll show you, "See how wonderful the practice of bhakti can be?" But then....he'll make you pay because nothing worthwhile is free. Krsna, however, doesn't want your money. He wants something much more valuable - your love. And how does that love practically manifest? Through time, patience, determination, service and all the other intangibles that we often take for granted. Of course, that doesn't last forever, but it's important to realize that when those moments do arise, it's so that we can grow and develop in our bhakti journey.
That being said, the practice of bhakti is also full of lots of immediate experiences and results. Ask anyone who has sat in a kirtan (the singing of mantras accompanied with music), it's instant bliss. Or another example is eating food that has been cooked and offered to Krsna with a beautiful consciousness. These are the things that always keep one going.
So next time it seems like the going is not only going to get rough but also tough, remember - great things come to those who wait (and persevere)!