“Don’t be sweet, lest you be eaten up; don’t be biter, lest you be spewed out”- Jewish proverb
“I am chanting Hare Krishna since last six months, yet I haven’t got a good job”, if you hear something like this, you know it’s a wrong expectation from the process of Krishna consciousness. While chanting Hare Krishna you also need to work on your four essential human needs, and to expect a peaceful life by ignoring them, and relying exclusively on a spiritual process for these needs is akin to doing more meditation when you have a tooth ache. You need to see a dentist, and you could also chant more, but chanting doesn’t guarantee freedom from a tooth pain.
Rest, exercise, diet, finances, house, and all other necessary physical requirements need our time and attention. Many devotees spend time doing yoga, walking, exercise to remain fit and healthy.
The idea is this body is a vehicle, and would help the soul reach our spiritual destination of Krishna. However if we go into the extreme of taking care of the car too much or ignoring the car totally in our reckless desperation to drive to Krishna, we’d be miserable, and eventually not reach our goal. A sensitive handling of our body’s needs and ensuring our basic physical needs are met, helps us happily chant Hare Krishna.
This is a sense of achievement; we want to accomplish, acquire and endeavour for something great, and many meet this need by doing a challenging service or job. You seek promotion, meet deadlines, get new clients, and also want to feel a sense of worth. If we artificially ignore this need, a palpable vacuum is felt in the heart. Being busy in the various service opportunities in Krishna consciousness helps us meet this need.
We all have unique talents and abilities. Doing a service that you like to do and if you are also good at it, surely you’d meet this need.
This refers to our need to love and feel loved. Close knit families with satisfactory relationships and emotional bonding help members feel loved. Emotionally disturbed individuals struggle for decades with this unmet need; they may grow in their careers, yet their personal lives would be a mess. Ignore this need at your own risk.
Living in a community where devotees genuinely care for each other, helps one grow emotionally. Some get miserable because they never have enough of love. They constantly seek more, and are focussed on self; “who is loving me and how much?” To be emotionally content, one needs to cultivate gratitude and an attitude of first giving care. Only when we give love, we receive love. George Harrison put it nicely, “All the world is a birthday cake; so take a piece, but not too much”
Despite working on the above three needs, it’s our spiritual connection to God, Krishna, that completes the cycle. Srila Prabhupada often compared all our achievements in life to zeros; the more zeroes we add, the number is useless. However if you add the number one of Krishna, then the number becomes big. Similarly if we cultivate a relationship with God, we can add value to all our other activities; we attain a sublime purpose and meaning to our existence. Then it’s worth taking care of our health, achieving targets, and having loving family members who help us transcend the process of birth and death by helping us connect to Krishna.
In the past some spiritualists have done the mistake of focusing exclusively on spiritual practises and in the process ignoring the other needs. Years later they had to take desperate measures to revive their health and bruised relations. Therefore let’s attend to our essential needs, remembering Thomas Merton’s wisdom, “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony”
A devotee of Krishna takes exclusive shelter of Krishna, yet he also does the needful so that he doesn’t burden his Lord to fulfill his basic needs. His relationship with God is that of service; to give everything to Krishna, and not expect anything from Him. And to make this possible, let’s work on our needs and show Krishna our sincerity to serve and love Him. The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus put it succinctly, “Be moderate to taste the joys of life in abundance”