Human society can broadly be classified into Atheists and Theists. Both these worlds can be subdivided into two categories - Agnostic & Gnostic as described below.
1(a). Gnostic-Theist: believes and is 100% sure that God exists.
1(b). Agnostic-Theist: believes God exists, but the existence is unknowable. This means, his faith is much like, "I believe in God but I am not sure, it might be stories."
2(a). Agnostic-Atheist: does not believe God exists, but again they say "I am not very sure, might be He exists."
2(b). Gnostic-Atheist: believes it can be proved that God does not exist.
The majority of us (especially in India), is born in a category 1(b) family. A family where, mainly due to tradition, rituals are followed, but, the exact philosophy behind the rituals remains unknown. Many a time, they prefer shutting their mental doors.
However, our generation and the upcoming generation is the generation of (so-called) advancing material science. We believe in theory - "Show me to believe in you".
Now when we, enlightened with a scientific and rational education system, try to question the age-old ritual practices, we get no answers which can satisfy our "intellect" (pun intended). This forces us to slip from 1(b) to category 2(a). You see, 1(b) and 2(a) aren't very different. Slowly, not getting a proper answer we tend to fall to the 2(b) category.
As we grow in 1(b), 2(a), or 2(b) circumstances of life, we see the gross material world very closely.
Since our school days, we see a rush, a race to reach somewhere, a destination quite virtual and vague in definition. Most of the time, people don't even know where are they heading to. They prefer to hide in the crowd and follow the flow.
We see beautiful skyscrapers being erected all around. Beautiful complexes with luxurious swimming pools and other (un)necessities.
We become amazed by the glittering nightlife.
We reject virtuous personalities and our role models become the people like Movie Star, Sports Stars, Politicians, or someone rich or famous. We see and follow their lifestyle very closely and define success and happiness accordingly.
Hence finally understand and accept, the only means to happiness are money and glamor.
Even though subconsciously we accept even a 1-day-OLD toddler is growing old and not young, we still want to fool ourselves when we look into the mirror using cosmetics and hair dye.
Wikipedia defines Rat Race as:
A rat race is an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit. It conjures up the image of lab rats racing through a maze to get the "cheese" much like society racing to get ahead financially. The term is commonly associated with an exhausting, repetitive lifestyle that leaves no time for relaxation or enjoyment.
We join the rat race for earning (unlimited) money to attain (uncertain) happiness.
And then a twist comes in some of our life. We meet some people or bump into a webpage or a blog preaching the forgotten "science of self-realization". They prove to us The Supreme Lord is a reality and not a Myth or Mythological personality. They prove to us the decaying nature of our life dedicated to the pursuit of money. They prove us real happiness can only be found in the service of The Lord. As they go on making their point clear, we tend to virtually see a great wall separating the two worlds - our world which we grew up in, and their world.
The biggest confusion - Which part of the world should we choose?
# We admit, our world is miserable. Their world is full of promises, but, we never know. What if they are wrong?
# We see a huge number of people going the other way. Shouldn't we stick with the majority, after all so many people can't be wrong?
# Spirituality means giving up. This is my age to earn and not give up.
# Spirituality is for elderly people, and, I am still young for it. I will follow it when I grow old (because I know how many years I will live)
In case of any confusion, intelligent people take shelter of the Lord and His words/instructions from scriptures.
Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita
Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.
[Bhagavad Gita 7.3]
After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.
[Bhagavad Gita 7.19]
If one out of thousands tries to understand Krishna, who is that person? And who are those huge number of people who continue their rat race?
Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.
O best among the Bharatas, four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service unto Me – the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.
Of these, the one who is in full knowledge and who is always engaged in pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.
All these devotees are undoubtedly magnanimous souls, but he who is situated in knowledge of Me I consider to be just like My own self. Being engaged in My transcendental service, he is sure to attain Me, the highest and most perfect goal.
[Bhagavad Gita 7.15 - 18]
There are many such verses from many other Vedic texts to show how rare and precious is the chance to Serve Krishna or become His devotee. A devotee is so very precious to Krishna that He personally takes care of His devotees. In the Bhagavad-gita (9.31) the Lord assured everyone that His devotees are never to be vanquished.
The biggest misconception of many is that spirituality always means giving up everything that we do, like our job.
But in Bhagavad Gita Krishna says:
The renunciation of work and work in devotion are both good for liberation. But, of the two, work in devotional service is better than the renunciation of work..
[Bhagavad Gita 5.2]
So any field of work we do, if it is not forbidden by scriptures and if we devote ourselves to Lord Krishna, it is perfect. Normally we work for our self, our promotion, our impression, our status, our family, it is we in the center. But, we should change this idea. We should keep Krishna in the center and do the same work in order to please Him. We should give our 100% effort to get the best possible outcome from our self. Not for us but for Krishna.
We can earn 1 million a day, no harm, provided it is to serve Krishna.
We may build/buy the best home we can afford and keep Krishna in the center by inviting him to reside in the form of the deity with us. He should be the owner of our home and our family, not us.
Point is, spiritual life is not a change in our current situation, but an up-gradation of our consciousness. It is shifting from thinking I-and-My to Krishna-and-Krishna's. It is very simple if we understand its essence - Rise in Love of Krishna and Serve Him!!
Any other definition of spirituality known to us might be erased off our minds and confidently thrown out of the window.
As we go on practicing this, one day, we may, with His mercy and sweet will, become the intelligent great soul which Krishna says is very rare. Thus we become Extraordinary from Ordinary.
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