Fear not that life may end; fear that life may never begin
We all fear death. Among all our possessions, life is most precious, because without it, we can’t enjoy any other possession. Naturally, we treasure life.
Paradoxically though, we don’t treasure life consistently. Though we are terrified about losing our life in one stroke to death, we don’t even notice losing our life gradually, moment-by-moment. We willingly, even eagerly, let so many of our moments be dissipated on trivialities and trinkets: trivialities such as gossip and trinkets such as a new gadget.
If we look back at our life, do we treasure the time we spend on such trivialities and trinkets? Rarely, if ever.
The times we cherish are usually the times when we were absorbed in something much bigger than ourselves – striving to actualize a noble aspiration or selflessly help someone. Those are the moments when we actually lived life. During the remaining time, we mostly just existed, watching as life happened to us.
Gita wisdom introduces us to the best cause to live for: love. Love becomes perennially joyful when directed towards an eternal object of love – God, Krishna. He is, as the Bhagavad-gita (14.04) indicates, the parent of all living beings, so by loving him, we also love everyone as members of the one universal family. All of us as souls have an original spiritual love for Krishna, a love that is now covered and misdirected by our worldly infatuations. We can revive that love by practicing bhakti-yoga.
Once we taste the fulfillment coming from bhakti-yoga, we realize that it marks is the beginning of our real life, life based on the reality of who we are – souls, beloved parts of Krishna. We realize, as the Bhagavad-gita (03.16) indicates, that life without any spiritual connection is a futile life, a life lost on forgettable petty pursuits.
Practicing bhakti-yoga doesn’t require us to renounce everything material, but to harmonize the material with the spiritual – to use our material resources in the service of Krishna and for the holistic welfare of everyone including ourselves.
Bhakti insights revise our understanding of what is worth fearing – not the ending of life because life will inevitably end at the material level. What is worth fearing is that life may never begin, that we may imprudently delay offering our love to Krishna and thereby block the beginning of our real life. The more we cultivate the healthy fear of missing real spiritual life, the faster that life will commence and continue. And it will continue eternally, because love for Krishna being spiritual continues beyond bodily destruction in the indestructible arena of divine love.