What cricket can teach us about life 1
Congregation program in the Middle East
Transcribed by: Sadananda Krishna Prema Das
Chaitanya Charan Prabhu : I am grateful to be among all of you, and in today’s class I will try to connect my past with my present, in trying to share Krishna bhakti.
So, for many Indians, Sharjah is inextricably associated with cricket. So, like most Indians I was also at one time quite mad for cricket. So, today I will speak on the topic of what cricket can teach us about life. I will try to speak five points depending on how time goes.
The first is that, if we look at life we all want to succeed and yet success is not always in our hands. We want to do well in our exams if we are students, or we have some interview for a job, or we want to do well in our job. If we are cooking, we want to cook nicely. So, we all want to succeed in our life and few things are as performance driven as sports; that means that in sports success depends on performance. If the batsman doesn’t perform, if the bowler doesn’t perform, they will not succeed, and yet even in a field which is as performance driven as sports, say cricket… Even in such a field cricketers have their own superstitions.
Australia is considered to be one of the most aggressive teams in cricket. Last year when I first went to Australia, I found the Australians to be very gentle, laid back and very friendly people. So, when I asked the devotees, they said, ‘the Australians are laid back in everything except cricket. In cricket they are known for sledging… being very aggressive. So, they go all out. They try to say, ‘we are in it to win It.’ that is their goal, and yet many of the best Australian cricketers were very superstitious. So, Steve Waugh was the former captain of the Australian team and he would always carry a red handkerchief in his pocket, and that handkerchief would be half inside and half outside, and if he would drop a catch though he is a good fielder, he would look if the handkerchief has fallen or not, and think ‘how did I drop a catch?’
So, there is another batsman, Mark Taylor. Whenever he would go out to bat… before going out of the pavilion, he would go to the washroom and make sure that the leads of all the commodes would be closed. And if he got out early, then before going to the pavilion he would go to the washroom, and if he found that any of the leads of the cupboards to be open, he would go and blast his team mates, ‘Why did you keep it open. Because of that I got out.’ Now, we may say, ‘Oh! What is this? What has the commode got to do with somebody’s performance in the cricket field?’ There is a famous tennis player, Andrea Agassi. He would wear an ear ring in one ear, and he would see that as a good luck charm.
So, now as I said, in cricket or in all sports, performance matters, but even cricketers know that performance is not all that matters. Then there is something beyond their capacity to perform that shakes the result, and whatever the unknown is which shakes the results, they try in their own idiosyncratic way to try to appease that unknown. So, the idea is that the performance is in my control, but the result is not determined by my performance. They know that.
So many things have to work out right so that the results come out properly. So, all those things which are not in their control, they try to appease by having their own superstitions. This actually points to a universal principle of life and that is what the Bhagavat Gita talks about.
That when we want phala, when we want result in life, actually there are three factors involved, there is karma, there is daiva and there is kala. So, karma plus daiva plus kala leads to phala. Karma is our activity, daiva is destiny – that which is beyond our control, and even after destiny is there, there is kala, there is time. When all three work together then there is phala. So, consider the example of farming. While farming, the farmers ploughing the land and sowing the seeds… that is the karma, then rains coming at the right time in the right quantity…that is the daiva. After that with the passage of time, the change of seasons till the harvesting time comes, that is the kala, and then there is the harvest, there are the crops. So, karma plus daiva plus kala leads to phala. So, in all endeavours in life it is our karma which matters, but it is not that alone that matters.
So, if the farmer doesn’t plough the land, doesn’t sow the seeds, then the rains may come but the rains will lead to only the growth of weeds. It will not lead to the growth of grains. So, even when daiva is favourable we have to do our karma. At the same time we may do our karma; the farmer may plough the land, but the rains don’t come. If the daiva is not favourable then the karma will not produce the phala. So, when in the bhagavata gita it says..
karmaṇy evādhikāras te
mā phaleṣu kadācana
That you have a right to do your work, but do not be attached to the fruits. So, one way these words can be misunderstood is to think that the Bhagavata Gita says, ‘Don’t care for the fruits.’ The Bhagavat Gita is not telling us, ‘Don’t care for the fruits.’ There is a difference between being detached and being irresponsible.
What is the difference between detachment and irresponsibility? Detachment is after the action. Irresponsibility is before the action. Agar koi vidyarthi exam ke liye padhai nahin karta hain, kahta hai, ‘main anasakta hun’, wo anasakti nahin hain, wo gair jimmedari hain. Padai karne ke bad kya hoga, kitne marks milenge, kaha mujhe admission milegi, wo sab to mere hath me nahin hain, wo jab samay aayega tab dekenge. Wo anasakti hain)
So, the Bhagavat Gita is not recommending irresponsibility. The Bhagavat Gita is not saying, “don’t care for the results.”, but when the Bhagavat Gita says, ‘karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana.’, what it is essentially telling us is? ‘Focus on what is in your control. The action is in your control but the results are not in your control. Don’t obsess over the results.”
Now, even in a field as performance driven as cricket, we can see indications of players acknowledging the role of destiny. They may not call it destiny. They may have some other word for it, or they may not have any word for it, but they acknowledge that there is something beyond us and that determines the results, and therefore what is important is that, what is implicitly understood is not really systematically explained in the field of cricket.
Sometimes we say that, “It was bad luck. Played very well but it was their bad luck that they lost.’ So, what does that mean? That they played well, but the performance alone doesn’t determine the result. So, now what determines the daiva, the destiny? Actually that is also our past karma. Destiny is not just some arbitrary decision by someone, ‘that ok this person is good or this person is bad, or this person I will give good and this person I will give bad’… it’s not arbitrary.
So, what is this destiny? It is also a result of our own past karma. Now, in philosophy one of the biggest problems is called the problem of evil. Problem of evil is that, if God is good why are there bad things in this world? And associated with this problem of evil is the problem of inequity. Inequity means injustice or inequality. So, some people are born wealthy, some people are born poor, some people are born good looking, some people are born with mediocre good looks, some people have a phenomenal memory, some people have phenomenal forgetfulness. (laughter) So, why there are these differences? And actually these differences make a lot of difference. So, what is this difference there? Now, broadly speaking we may in the broad understanding of the world… there are two explanations. It is by chance or it is by plan. So, if we say that this is by chance, then basically life becomes like a cosmic lottery, and in this lottery some people are winners and some people are losers. So, by lottery you are born in a poor family, by lottery you are born with a poor memory, what to do? So, this idea of chance about things happening arbitrarily, this is profoundly unsatisfactory, and that is not the way we normally function.
In our life how we function? Now, if you go back home and you see that a family member has got a scar on their hands, you will ask him, ‘What happened?’ This means that we implicitly assume that an affect has a cause. So, we don’t just say that things happen arbitrarily. When things seem to happen arbitrarily that disturbs us because normally things happen as per order. So, this explanation of chance is actually very unsatisfactory. It’s counter-intuitive. That is not the way we normally look at life, and further it is very disempowering because I may be just going through life and by chance anything can happen to anyone, and the whole of life becomes pointless.
We consider our lives so meaningful and so valuable, and just you might be going on the road, and if a passing vehicle banks on us that will be the end of our life. So, the idea that everything happens by chance is not at all satisfactory. The other alternative is that there is God in control, and everything happens by God’s will. This also is not a very satisfactory explanation, because then this makes God discriminatory. God made this person intelligent, and God made this person dumb, God made this person wealthy and God made this person poor. Why does God discriminate like this? And on top of it we are told that we have to worship such a God. If somebody is discriminatory, how can we worship and how can we love such a person? Now, some people may say that… now actually this is the broad understanding of the abrahamic religion.
The world’s religion can be divided into two broad traditions, the abrahamic religions and the dharmic relgions. The abrahamic religions are – Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and dharmic religions are Buddhism, Jainish, Sikkism, Hinduism. The fundamental difference between these two religions is that the abarhamic religions focus very much on historical events, e.g. this prophet, this messiah, this messenger, and he is the deliverer. Now the dharmic religions they also have great sages, but their focus is on dharma. Dharma essentially means principles. Now the focus is not on persons. The persons are important, but the focus is on principles. Understanding principles, and harmonizing with those principles.
So, the abrahamic religions say that everything happens by God’s will. So, why are there difficulties, why are some people poor? ‘That is a test of God.’ Ok, we can say it is a test of God, but the problem is that it is not just a test, it’s a discriminatory test. Say, imagine that there was a class and after the say the six months class gets over, at the end of the semester the teacher gives a exam, and if all the students get different questions… some students get very easy question paper and some students get very difficult question paper… now the students will not be asking the question, ‘why there is an exam?’, ‘why different exams for different people?’ Isn’t it? That doesn’t make sense.
If someone says that God’s will is different from your will, God’s justice is different from our justice, that’s fine. But God’s justice should be different in terms of being better, not worse. So, to say that all the differences in this world are by God’s will, that casts God as unjust, and when people see these two alternatives, things either happen by chance or they happen by God’s will, then they many feel that, ‘I cannot worship such a God’, and they go toward atheism.
If the religious people say that, this is the God you have to believe in, if you are not going to believe in Him then you are going to go to hell. Then people become profoundly alienated. I was in America last month. So, in America some states are called the Bible belt. So, there are a lot of evangelical Christians who preach quite aggressively there. So, now there in the Bible belt, there are some Christians who are very aggressive and as a result of that there are some atheists who become very aggressive as well. So, I saw one bumper sticker. So, it says, ‘Oh God! Please save me from Your preachers.’ (laughter) So, normally God saves us through His preachers, but the preachers come out as very self-righteous, very condescending, very fanatical. Then, people say, ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with this.’
So, these are the two alternatives. That’s what people think, but there is a third alternative. To go back to cricket, before I come to the 3rd alternative… Suppose, we see that there is a score board, and there are two teams, and Team A starts with the score of zero, and Team B starts with the score of 200. ‘Hey what is going on? How can you have a score of zero for this team and a score of 200 for the other team?’ Now, we can have two explanations. One is that, the score board operates by chance. So, this team is lucky. So, they got a score of 200, and that team is unlucky, so they got a score of zero. Now, what kind of match we will have if the score board operates by chance? The score board has to operate by performance. That doesn’t make any sense. The other explanation could be, ‘There is a match fixing.’ (laughter) That whoever is managing the score board, they want a particular team to win. So, they have fixed the score board in such a way that this team gets a higher score. This also sounds very unfair that how can a team play like this?
So, we see that there are two alternatives like that, that everything happens by chance or everything happens by God’s will, but there can be a third possibility. The third possibility is that this is the second innings of the match, and one team has got a lead of 200 from the previous match or from the previous innings. So, the starting score of the teams is not determined by chance or by the score keeper. It is determined by their own past performance. So, similarly where we start off in this life… the Bhagavata Gita explains that this life is not the only innings. There will be many innings before and there will be innings in the future also. So, where we start in this innings depends on how much we have scored in the previous innings. So, some people have scored more and that’s why they may start at a higher point. Some people may have scored less, and that’s how they start at lower point, but the important thing here is that our match is not against each other.
So, in the match of life, we don’t have to score more than someone else to win. We just have to reach our target score. If we reach our target score then we will win. So, in that sense there is the atheistic world view and there is the world view which says that God determines everything. To see God is in control… but God has also given us free will, and where we are situated that depends on what we have done in the past. So, God does not discriminate, God reciprocates, He reciprocates based on what we have done. He rewards accordingly, and this vision actually transforms the universe into a university. That means that I may be better situated than someone else, I may be wealthy and someone may be poor, but I may be here right now but I may have very well gone through that face. When my karma was bad, I may have gone through that face, and tomorrow that person will also come to where I am if they do the good karma, and when we understand that we all are in a journey of spiritual evolution, we are all growing towards perfection, then we understand that we all can cooperate, we all can cooperate and move onwards.
So, in this world there are different resources, and we may have to compete, but our ultimate destination is beyond this world. Our score in this world will make a big difference in this world, but in the long run it won’t make any difference. We are all going towards the same destination. So, when we get the spiritual understanding of life then the differences in the world don’t make that much of a difference.
In the purport of 9.33, in the Bhagavat Gita,
anityam asukhaṁ lokam
imaṁ prāpya bhajasva mām
Krishna says, anityam asukhaṁ lokam, this world is temporary and there is no real happiness in this world. imaṁ prāpya bhajasva mām, therefore worship Him, devote yourself to Him. In that purport Prabhupada says, in this world there are differences like, rich and poor, intelligent and foolish, but he says that ultimately this world is not a happy place for anyone, whether we are rich or whether we are poor, whether we are intelligent or less intelligent. This world is not a happy place for anyone.
Misery is democratic. Everybody has a right to misery, and everybody gets misery in life. The form of misery may vary. Sometimes people say that, ‘In the past you know there was no air-conditioning, so people had to be in the heat, and they would sweat, they were so miserable.’ Yes, in the past because of heat people would sweat. Now, we have A.C but in our A.C offices there is stress and because of stress we sweat. So, the form of misery may change but the principle of misery remains unchanged. Everybody gets misery in this world, and ultimately we can all go beyond misery by practicing bhakti. We can raise our consciousness towards Krishna, and the more we become absorbed in Krishna, the more we transcend misery. So, the differences are there in the material level. They make a big difference in the material level, but ultimately our happiness doesn’t depend on the material level of reality. We can all become happy from wherever we are by connecting ourselves with Krishna, by absorbing ourselves in Krishna. So, God is not discriminatory. The inequities of this world are because we are ourselves have gone through many innings in our life, and whatever we score… the score here refers to our own karma. Whatever karma we are going to do, it is going to count, it is going to accumulate. If we do good, even if there seems to be no result, the result is there, the result is there. How is the result there?
Say, in cricket, sometimes the batsman may bat very well, but say the remaining team doesn’t perform, and the team loses, but then if this batsman is batting very well, every run the batsman is scoring is going to the batsman’s account, and the cumulative record will be there… the batsman scored so many runs. So, like that sometimes in our lives, as I said, there is karma, there is daiva and there is kala, then there is phala. Sometimes we may do our karma, but because the daiva is not there… so, in cricket, in the batsman’s case, the batsman may bat very well, but if the other team members don’t bat very well, then they may not win the match. So, the batsman’s batting well is a karma but the other team performing is daiva. So, sometimes we may do our part very well, but still we may not get results. So, at that time we have to understand that our karma doesn’t go in vain, our karma accumulates.
So, there are different kinds of karma. If you consider karma to be like a big water tank… so, the total accumulation of karma that we have, that is the sanchit… Sachit karma is accumulated karma, and then just like in the water tank… say there is one tap from which water is coming out. There is another tap from which water is going in. So, the water that is going in is what is called as the Krimankar… the karma that I am doing right now. So, that is water going inside, and I am experiencing right now, what I am going through right now, that is the Agami karma, or that has two sections – Prarabdha and Aprarabdha. I am not going to go into the analysis of karma. That is a whole different seminar itself, but here the point which I am making is that everything that we do, it is going in that karmic tank. So, if we work hard, that is never lost, that is all accumulated.
So, sometimes when we work in life and we don’t get results, then we get very discouraged. ‘I worked so hard, I didn’t get any results. So, and then when we don’t get the results once, twice, thrice, then we feel, ‘I am a failure. I am good for nothing. meri kismet hi phuti hain. We may say like that. Actually, sometimes we all may go through a bad phase in our life. Say, like I am putting in clean water here, but in the past there was some dirty water. So, from this side some dirty water is coming up, but the clean water that is there, that will accumulate and that will also come out in due course. So, when we think that our actions alone determines the result… on the positive side we may say, ‘I worked so hard, so I achieved results.’, but the problem with that is that, if we take credit for our success then we have to take the blame for our failures, and then when we fail, that will be very crippling. Some people become chronically depressed, they develop inferiority complex, they become suicidal, Why? Because they feel that nothing is working in my life. What they are doing is working, but they are thinking of what is working in terms of the results.
So, just like a batsman, they bat very well but if sometimes their team doesn’t perform, the batsman may not be able to win the match, but the batsman should know that he did his part, and it is up to others to do their part. So, like that in life we do our parts, but sometimes the results may not come. But, when we are doing our part that is contributing to our growth. That is contributing to our future. That is never lost.
When people play a cricket match, at that time a lot depends on the pitch. Some pitches are very favourable for batting. They are called batsman’s paradise, and the batsman’s paradise is a bowler’s nightmare. So, some pitches are so good for batting that the only thing the bowler can hope for is that he doesn’t get hit for sixes. That’s all. And some pitches may be actually bowler’s paradise. Then it becomes a batsman’s nightmare. So now, imagine there are two cricket matches that are going on. Say, one is in India where often the pitches are supposed to be very friendly for batsman, and there is another match going on in Australia where the pitches are quite favourable for the bowler’s, and there are two batsman batting, and now if those two batsman are competing with each other… you know, a person who is batting on a batsman’s pitch, he may score a double century. Somebody who is batting on a bowlers pitch, that person may be in great difficulty to score a half century, but actually in terms of application, in terms of dedication, that half century might have required more effort than a double century. So, those who are really good at cricket, they will not just see the score. They will see the setting in which the score was made. They will appreciate that even the half century is glorious.
So, if we start flatly comparing the batsman’s based on their scores, then we neglect other realities. So, similarly if we compare ourselves with other’s… see, all of us are different, and all of us are playing on different pitches. So, our own body and our own mind is the pitch on which we are playing, and my mind is different from your mind, is different from your mind… we all have different minds, and something which is very easy for me maybe very difficult for you, and something which is very easy for you can be very difficult for me. So, if you recognize that we are all playing on different pitches, then we won’t become so judgmental about others.
What happens is that, when we are good at something, and somebody else is not good at that we start looking down at them, but actually they are playing on a different pitch, and on their pitch… this is not just about talents, it’s can be about simple things like habits. Something that we can see very easily. I am a writer. So, I am a very verbal person. So, whenever I come into a room, whenever I go to a temple, whenever I go anywhere I am always looking at spellings, and if anywhere any spelling is wrong I get irritated. You know, most people are not so verbal. Say, if I point out to somebody that this spelling is wrong, he may think, ‘Ok, who bothers, why make such a big fuss about it?” See, for me to see a wrong spelling, it irritates me. It’s like… if somebody is doing kirtan and somebody has got a very good musical sense, and then somebody is playing kartal who has no musical sense, and then for somebody who has a musical sense that wrong taal of the kartal is torture for him, he just can’t focus, and the worst thing is that sometimes some people enjoy music and don’t understand music. (laughter) That means that they are playing the kartal, and they are playing it wrong, but they don’t understand it, and we may get angry, ‘Why are you playing it like this?’He says, ‘Come on! I am remembering Krishna, you also remember Krishna.’ (laughter), and then you say, ‘No, I can’t remember Krishna, you play it right first.’ So, for us it may be very obvious that he is playing it wrong. But some people are called tone deaf. They just can’t understand it. So, when that happens they are playing on a completely different pitch from what we are playing, and then when we judge them by our standards or we judge ourselves by their standards… either way we get ourselves into trouble. Now, if we judge them by our standards, then we come off as judgemental, very picky, very fault-finding, and it can happen for even ordinary things in life.
Now, some people are very cleanliness conscious, and there are some other people who are completely unconscious about cleanliness. Somebody may come and say that, ‘Why didn’t you clean your room?’, and he says, ‘Is it unclean, I didn’t notice only.’ (laughter) Now they are not saying that to rile us. They just don’t notice it. So, when we understand that for them actually… for us, we can’t tolerate un-cleanliness. We would say, ‘Come on, it just takes two minutes, just clean things up.’ For them, to notice that will take two days. They will not just notice it only. So, what happens is that different people are playing on different pitches. What seems easy for us can be very difficult for them, and when we understand this, and then we become more understanding. Become more understanding doesn’t mean that we accept everyone for what they are, and just tolerate everything, but actually change begins with acceptance.
You know, if a person is like this…. if a person is at this level, and I am blaming them, ‘Why are you not in this level?’, and he says, ‘I am not. I am here.’ I will give you another example. Say, I was coming here by car from the house. Say, suppose we took a wrong turn and went somewhere else, and then whoever was guiding us, they say, ‘Why did you take a wrong turn? You are such a fool. I gave you the address, why didn’t you understand it properly, why did you take the wrong turn?’, and I say, ‘Ok baba, I took a wrong turn, now please tell me how I can come on the right tract?’ You know, if you just keep blaming, ‘Why are you there?’, well, it doesn’t help at all. If we have gone wrong, whoever is guiding us, they have to accept, ‘Ok, I have gone wrong, Ok you are there, now I will help you come here.’
So, like that different people when they understand that they are playing on different pitches, we accept them where they are and then we can help them to change. But, if we don’t accept them for what they are, then we are always blaming them, ‘Why are you like this? Why are you not doing that?’, and when we constantly criticize people, what happens is that people’s energy gets shifted from correcting themselves to justifying themselves. So, when somebody feels constantly criticked, constantly attached, then they would just want to defend themselves, and then whatever energy they use for correcting themselves, they don’t use it for correcting themselves. They just use if for defending themselves, and thus we end up perpetuating the very behaviour in others that we want them to change. So, when we understand this point that they are playing on a different pitch, and therefore I may want them to change, and I can communicate to them that, ‘It just troubles me too much. Can you just change this?’ They also want to change, but we have to help them. We are not meant to judge them.
Taking this point further, actually we have to understand that, like if there is a pitch and if there is a test match, the same pitch performs differently on the first day and very differently on the fifth day. Some pitches are very good for batting on the first day, but on the fifth day those pitches are extremely difficult. On the first day somebody may score a 300 runs, and on the last day maybe somebody scores a 100… a team goes 100, 150-200. That’s also a big thing, but because the pitch has changed, so same way actually our own mind is the pitch on which we are playing, and our own mind changes. So, now when a batsman is batting and if their purpose is the same, that they want to score runs, but depending on how the pitch is, they have to change their strategy. So, on the first day they will bat differently and on the fifth day they will have to bat differently because the pitch is different. Similarly, our minds goes through different moods and as the minds moods change, what happens is that our… when the mind’s mood changes, the ease with which we are doing something earlier that is no longer there, and that thing is very difficult afterwards.
So, I was giving a youth meeting once in Melbourne, and then one boy asked, ‘What is wrong with love marriage?’ I said, ‘There is nothing wrong with love marriages. The problem is what is wrong is to equate, what is wrong is actually the terminology. Terminology is… when we say, ‘love marriages
Vs Arranged Marriages’, what it means is that in arranged marriages there is no love. Isn’t it? It is not necessarily like that, and it is also not necessary that in love marriage there is always love, because the mind has its emotions. It has its own feelings. So, if we are driven…if we just turn that terminology around, and say, instead of calling ‘love marriages vs Arranged Marriages’, we call it ‘Infatuation Marriages Vs. Thoughtful marriages.’ Now the terminology itself is loaded, isn’t it? So, yes when two people meet each other, they may feel attracted. In the movies they say, ‘You know, I felt electricity going through my body.’ (laughter) Whatever…
So, now these things, these feelings may come but you know what is important is… for the longevity of a relationship, there may be love at first sight, but what is more important is: what happens after many sights (laughter) So, the longevity of the relationship depends on… the mind will go through different moods, and if the relationship is based simply on the moods… sometimes two people say that, ‘You know, I cannot live without you.’, and then six months later they say, ‘I can’t live with you.’ (laughter) So, now in this case what happened? The pitch changed. (laughter) So, the pitch has changed. So, the mind is the pitch on which we are playing and the mind’s moods keep changing. So, initially there might have been attraction, and that attraction was the basis of their relationship, but over a period of time if the relationship has to be sustainable, we cannot base it only on attraction. The relationship has to be based on commitment.
So, if the relationships are to have longevity, then they cannot be based just on attraction or infatuation. They have to be based on commitment. Commitment means that, whether I feel like it, or I don’t feel like it, I persevere… I persevere. So, sometimes our feelings will help us. Sometimes, our feelings will obstruct us. So, just like in the cricket match, sometimes the pitch may help the batsman. Sometimes the pitch may trouble the batsman, but the batsman’s purpose remains the same. The purpose is to try to bat and score runs. So, like that sometimes our mind moves such that… sometimes our feelings help us in doing things, but sometimes our feelings obstruct us. Either way we have to stay fixed in our purpose. If we let ourselves be entirely determined by our feelings, then the same things that I am attracted to today, I will repelled tomorrow, and then we will not be able to be stable in anything.
So, our feelings, they do affect us. Now, we can’t wish away our feelings. If I am feeling low, if I am feeling sad, if I am feeling depressed, if I am feeling irritated, I can’t wish away those feelings. Those feelings are there, but just because the feelings are there, that doesn’t mean that I have to act on those feelings. That means that, ‘Ok, this feeling is there. Now let me see how to deal with it.’ So, when we understand that our feelings are actually often just… our changed feelings are simply the changed pitch, the changed mind. Then we don’t take the feelings too seriously… Then Krishna says in the Bhagavata Gita, 5.20 that
na prahṛṣyet priyaṁ prāpya
nodvijet prāpya cāpriyam
brahma-vid brahmaṇi sthitaḥ
So, He says na prahṛṣyet priyaṁ prāpya, when you get something you like, don’t just jump up and down, don’t be too elated. nodvijet prāpya cāpriyam, when you get something which is apriya, which is unfavourable don’t become dejected. How to avoid it? sthira-buddhir. Keep your intelligence fixed. asammūḍho, know this is temporary. Don’t get caught by it, don’t get deluded. asammūḍho, and how will this happen? brahma-vid brahmaṇi sthitaḥ… brahma-vid, one who understands brahma, one who understands spiritual reality, and not just understand spiritual reality… brahmaṇi sthitaḥ, one who is situated in spiritual reality. That person will be able to stay fixed. So, what does it mean? I will conclude with this point about brahmaṇi sthitaḥ. Our feelings will affect us. Naturally if we get something good we will be happy. If something bad happens we will be unhappy, but what Krishna is saying is, ‘don’t let this emotions carry you away.’
When we are brahma-vid, when we have spiritual understanding, at that time we understand that actually whatever happens in the material level that is small. What happens at the spiritual level is big. So, a material gain is like a 50 dirham gain. A material loss is like a 50 dirham loss, but our spiritual growth, our relationship with Krishna… that is like a 50 million dirham gain. So, that is what really matters. Now, if I had only 50 dirham gain, and somebody takes it away, then I will fight with my life to keep it. But, if I am a millionaire and when some 50 dirham falls out of my pocket, and some beggar comes and takes it, he says, ‘take it, tu bhi kya yad rakhega.’ He said take it. It’s not a big deal for him. So, like that when we practice bhakti, when we connect with Krishna we understand by experience that actually by practicing bhakti, I can experience peace and joy that is far greater in whatever I may experience in other things, and thus as we keep practicing bhakti, we experience this more and more. And by this experience we can get the conviction that, ‘Ok, material ups and downs, I don’t have to shaken by them, because as compared to this, this is so much bigger. My relationship with Krishna, my bhakti for Krishna is so much bigger… that these distresses come, these pleasures come but it is all temporary.
Sometimes, when scriptures tell us, ‘Oh, actually material pleasure is temporary, don’t chase after it.’ Now, this may make… we are still attracted to material pleasures and we see, ‘ok, it is temporary but it is wonderful, I want it right now.’ So, what happens is that we are attracted to material pleasures. Its temporariness doesn’t register within us, but over a period of time as we keep practicing bhakti, we start realizing, ‘Yes, I get so excited about this pleasure, but afterwards it gets over.’ Nothing to be so excited about it. You start realizing it, and positive side of this is that, not only are the pleasures temporary, the problems also are temporary. The troubles that we face… right now, they may seem to be very big, but they are also temporary. Temporary means that they are not going to last forever. So, we don’t over react to problems. tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata, I tolerate them. Be patient. Be calm. This will come and this will go.
So, like sometimes when there are some leeches. Leeches are insects which suck blood. Now, sometimes if a leech comes and bites us, we may say that actually this leech… we can actually sense it that it is taking blood out of our body. We get very scared when something is taking blood out. At that time I may just try to pull it out. But some leeches, they catch hold of the skin so tightly that if we try to pull the leech out, they will pull the whole skin out. A big wound would come up, but if we just wait… the leeches, they don’t suck infinite amount of blood. They are tiny creatures. Now they have some small tubules, and once that tubule become filled with that much blood, then they themselves let go. Just flip it, they will fall off. So, like that sometimes by our past karma some problems come in our life, and if those problems come… these problems are like leeches that suck blood, and at time if you over react… if somebody behaves unreasonably and then we just blast out at them speaking anything and everything that comes in our mind, and a small misunderstanding blows into a big World War. Now what happens at that time… just ok… this person behaved unreasonably… Ok, just tolerate it, it will go away. We may all go through different moods. Sometimes they may be just in a bad mood. Just tolerate it. So, the problems are also temporary. When we understand it, we can tolerate it.
So, once one devotee asked me a question. This is the continuation and conclusion of the same topic. He said that, ‘There is one devotee who doesn’t like me, and he has told me also that he doesn’t like me. So, what can I do when I am dealing with this devotee? So, if I have to deal with this devotee, I have to serve with this devotee, then what can I do?’ So, I explained that, ‘Actually, the difference between devotee relationship and non-devotee relationship is that a devotee is not just relating with the other person. The devotee is also relating with Krishna. When that person is behaving badly with me, and I behave badly with him, then what is the difference between a devotee and a non-devotee? So, devotee behaves considering, ‘Ok, this person is behaving this way, what will please Krishna? How can please Krishna in this situation?’ Sometimes we may have to take strong action also. Somebody is again and again making the same mistake, then I have to take a strong action. But, our response is not just a response to their action. Our response is a well chosen course of action based on higher wisdom. So, for example, say there are these clothe shops where there are hundreds of dresses which are available, and there are these attendants who show the clothes to the customers. People see hundred clothes and not purchase one clothe, and then after that the attendant who is there, actually has to fold all the clothes, put them back on the hanger. He may think, ‘You know, I showed hundred clothes, they didn’t take even one clothe. What a waste of time.’, and then the next time the customer comes, the attendant may be rude with them. The attendant may be brusk with them. He would say, ‘what a waste of time.’, and then, the next time the customer comes, the attendant may be rude with them. The attendant may be brusk with them, but if the attendant thinks that, ‘Actually my salary is not coming from this customer. My salary is coming from my boss, and my boss is watching me, and my boss also knows that this customer is a difficult customer. My boss also knows that making the sell to this customer is difficult. So, my boss will be seeing how patient I am, how courteous I am’, and if the boss actually sees that this attendant even amidst, even while dealing with such a difficult customer is so patient, so courteous, so cool, the boss may promote such an attendant, even though that attendant has made no sell. Why? It’s because that attendant has a temperament. So, similarly in our relationship we are not just dealing with the other person, we are dealing with Krishna also. So, we should know that Krishna is watching us, and we focus on… ‘Ok, in this relationship this person is behaving unreasonably, but what will please Krishna? How can I act in a way that Krishna will be pleased with me? If we have that attitude, then we won’t overreact to small, small things. So, what this means is that sometimes we may be playing… as I said that the pitch on which we play itself changes at different times, and the pitch on which others play also changes. If we understand this then we become understanding, and even that person will not behave unreasonably. Now how we deal with that person, that is a different issue. In different situations different actions may be required.
Krishna tells Arjuna to tolerate, but when the kauravas commit so many atrocities, Krishna doesn’t tell Arjuna to tolerate. Krishna tells Arjuna, ‘Fight the war.’ So, there are certain situations where tolerance is accepted or tolerance is recommended. In certain situations aggressive actions may be required, but it is… none of this is impulsive. All of it is well chosen, and that capacity to choose comes when we see our interaction with others not just as an interaction with that person, we see our interaction with others also as an interaction with Krishna. So, we please Krishna not just by how we directly serve Krishna, how we chant His holy names, how we associate with… how we worship the deities, how we come in satsang etc. All these are important but we serve Krishna also by how we deal with others. The primary difference between a kanistha adhikari, a madhyama adhikari and a uttama adhikari… Kanistha adhikari is a neophyte devotee, madhyama adhikari is a medium level devotee and the uttama adhikari is a top level devotee. The primary difference between them is, where in all they can see Krishna.
The Kanistha adhikari can see Krishna only in the temple, and when they are in the temple they are very sweet, they are very gentle, very humble, very kind, and as soon as they come out of the temple they are shouting and snapping and cursing. They think, ‘bhagavan ke samne accha rehna cahiye.’ But bhagavan to sam jagah pe hain. Krishna is there everwhere. So, the more we advance we understand that my spiritual calibre is seen not just in how I am doing devotional activities, it’s also seen in how I am acting with others. So, if our bhakti makes us more tolerant, more understanding, then our relationship with Krishna will actually help us to improve our relationships with others also, because we will act as a mature being in that relationship, and thus we can move more smoothly towards Krishna by making our relationships in this world smoother. So, in this way bhakti actually helps us not just in the sense of taking us beyond this world to Krishna’s eternal abode. Bhakti also helps us to live better in this world. To live better means in two ways – when problems comes we can cope with them better, and also we can do our part better. That’s why bhakti becomes susukham kartum avyayam, becomes joyfully performed.
I spoke about what cricket can teach us about life. So, I talked about mainly five things.
First is about how performance matters, but performance is not all that matters. I talked about cricketers also having superstitions. Why? Because they know that there is something beyond my performance that determines the result, and what that is, Bhagavat Gita philosophy explains to us. Our performance is karma. So, karma plus daiva plus kala, that determines phala. So, in the Bhagavat Gita when it tells that, karmaṇy evādhikāras te mā phaleṣu kadācana, what it is saying is not that you don’t care for the fruits, not that we be irresponsible about the fruits but that we focus on what is in our hand, and in that way we can be productive, we can do our best without worrying about that which is not in our control. Then we discussed that, ‘Ok, that which is not in my control… the daiva, what determines that?’, and it says that, ‘That is also determined by our own past karma. So, in that connection we discussed how there is the problem of free will, how there are inequalities in life, and what is the cause of this inequality.
So, there are three options: one is, it is all by chance. So, if like one team has got a score of 200, another team is starting at a score of zero, so why the difference? The score board just works by chance. We know that we hardly ever work by that idea. We always think that causes have affects, and affects should have causes. That’s how we function in life. So, the other alternative is that, It is by God’s will. So, now this actually makes it even more difficult. If God is discriminatory, then how can I devote myself to such a God? Then we can say that it is God’s test, but why does God test different people differently?
So, just like, if the score keeper is partial, the score keeper is giving more score to some team, it is difficult to play such a match, but if we understand that this is the second innings, and in the previous innings the team scored more, and that’s why they have got more score, and that’s why the differences that are there in this life… they are coming from what we had done in our past life.
So, then we understand that God doesn’t discriminate, but he reciprocates. And our match is not against us or others. Our match is… basically we have to reach a target, we have to become pure, we have to develop love for God. On that journey of evolution, we may be ahead of others but we have gone through the struggles that they had gone through, and we can help them in rising up, and their rising up is not going to threaten us. It is all going towards the same destiny. That way we can have a cooperative spirit and life becomes a university. We all learn and we move forwards.
Then I discussed about, how while playing cricket… the second lesson basically is that the differences that we face in life, they are because of our own past deeds. We shouldn’t blame God or blame anyone for that.
The third is that, we are all playing on different pitches. So, don’t compare. So, a person scoring a double century on a batsman’s pitch is not necessarily better than a person who scores a half-century on a bowlers pitch. So, that which is easy in one setting will be very difficult in another setting.
So, our own body and mind is the pitch on which we are all playing, and so for some people music may come easy, and for some people music is like Latin, Greek or Sanskrit. They don’t understand anything about it. So, then when we understand that different people are playing on different pitches, we become more understanding to these things. After we accept people for where they are, then we help them change. If somebody is gone on a wrong destination, just cursing them, ‘why did you go there?’, it doesn’t help them. So, we help them by accepting where they are, helping them to rise upwards, and then the fourth point that we discussed is that, the pitch on which we play also changes. So, that means that we may have … our mind may feel a particular way today, and it may feel in a very different way tomorrow. So, we cannot let our actions be determined only by our feelings. Somebody may say, ‘I cannot live without you now.’, and afterwards they may say, ‘I cannot live with you.’, but we cannot base our relationship simply on feelings. So, it should be based on our commitment. Commitment means that whether it is easy or difficult to bat, the batsman still tries to bat and score runs. Like sometimes our feelings may assist us, and sometimes our feelings may obstruct us, but still we try to keep persevering in what we are doing, and that way we can ultimately move towards success.
And lastly I discussed about the same point. Our own pitch is changing, and others pitches are also changing. So, when some people behave in an unreasonable way, at that time we understand that our relationship is not only with them. So, our relationship is with Krishna. So, the way we act in our life, even if it doesn’t produce any result immediately, it is contributing to a result ultimately. A batsman may bat very well, but they may fail because the team is not performing. But still the batsman’s score is adding to the batsman’s record. So, like that when we act properly, when we act rightly, that is contributing to our karmic record, and ultimately if we are acting rightly it is pleasing Krishna.
So, in this world sometimes you will get good, sometimes you will get bad. That good and bad is like a small monetary gain or a small monetary loss, but our relationship with Krishna is like a huge gain. So, we don’t get so caught in the small gains and the loses that we neglect the big gain, and the same principle in our relationships: If somebody may be behaving unreasonably or somebody may behave badly, it doesn’t mean that we behave badly with them. We see that Krishna is the third person in that relationship. Just like if it is difficult customer, but the attendant sees that my boss is also there, my primary purpose is not just to make the sell, my primary purpose is to please my boss. I will like to make the sale of course, but I want to please my boss, and the boss may promote a patient salesman even if they are not able to make a sale, they behave well. So, like that sometimes we while interacting with some people may feel, we will not be able to make them see sense, we may not be able to get them do the right things, but if we are patient, we are understanding, Krishna will be pleased, and we will grow in our relationship with Krishna, and when we work to try to please Krishna, then that relationship with Krishna helps us become more mature in our relationship in this world, and in that way bhakti helps us not only to attain the ultimate destination beyond this world, but it also helps us function better in this world. To do better and to deal with what life gives us also better.
Thank you very much.