In the World, With the World, but not For the World.


In satsang we find much talk about service of society and humanity; we are taught compassion, benevolence, and other positive social qualities (‘social’ because they have no meaning or much more insignificant meaning if you do no live with other people). We also find a lot of propagation of samkhya vichar – the thought of recognizing all things other the five eternal entities as temporal and limited. This is even sometimes presented as thinking of things that were dead yesterday and will be dead tomorrow as being dead today. Add to that the point of our life is liberation (moksha) and liberation alone and all of a sudden there is a lot of murkiness in front of our minds. If liberation is what is most important then should I be spending my energy saving the planet from global warming or getting rid of my swabhavs and character-flaws. If all of this is temporal anyway should expend any energy in helping systems and processes of this world (i choose these words to represent governance, development, etc.) or should I focus on my own salvation. This is more stark a problem when I fully realize how far away from becoming brahmrup I am because what that means is I can’t just ‘balance both’; I’m so far away from being brahmrup I don’t have any left over time to care for anyone or anything else. And yet, I do not think I can just not care. So what is answer?

 

A number of things seem relevant in this answer:

1. Vach. Gadh. III – 3 – says that a person who has become atmarup from a pure sampraday will maintain compassion and affection even after achieving that detached or aloof state. So clearly, for Maharaj, not caring about others is not an part of becoming brahmarup. He expects that the jiva will maintain compassion and affection for others after becoming brahmarup.

2. The lives of Shreeji Maharaj and the Guru Parampara are our ideals and each of them has worked tirelessly in social service. Maharaj built wells and ran charity food kitchens. The gurus have each in their own way contributed to society; Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s social activities have become too large to list. The theme of his life and the message has given all of us is, “In the joy of others lies our own.” Clearly, we are not opposed to such service.

3. What we have been warned of in the Vachanamrut in Gadh. III – 19 and others is the trap of bondage and attachment. Bharatji fell not because he helped the baby deer but because he made the baby deer is his mission in life; he became attached.

4. Accordingly to the Vachanamrut (and supported by the Gita), any action can become bhakti (Karma matra bhaktirup thayanu)

 

The answer then is not that we should not care for this temporal world and not participate in making it better but that it cannot become a life mission or life purpose greater than liberation and pleasing the satpurush. We work hard to help improve society but our happiness is not tied to whether or not our efforts succeed. We love our family and friends and help them progress in life but our happiness and our sense of progress is not based on them.

We live in the world. We live with the world. However, we cannot live for the world.

We live to please God and guru, become brahmarup and attain Akshardham. As a part of that, we take active part in society and this world. This world should not become a priority higher than our spirituality.

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