Monday Morning Greetings 2020 #26 – The Times They Are A-Changin’

June 29th, 2020

It is one of those weeks that I am not inspired to write. I am still recovering from some health issues that significantly reduced my chanting and hearing, which substantially limits my ability to conceptualize and express ideas. It’s the way it works. It seems all I can think about deeply is the body, and I wrote about that last week. The only thought that has come to mind is how much the world has changed in such a short time. The title of a Bob Dylan song about “changin’” just came to mind. I hope it activates some insights, because I need to write something today. I’ve delayed long enough.


We are eternal, so it’s natural that we want an “always”, not changing, situation that pleases us. Most people therefore make plans around such life fixtures, but because of recent events many of those things are no longer certain. For example, I live for visiting and residing in Vrindavan. That has been a given for forty-four years, but who knows if that is even an option, at least for the immediate future. And it is like that about so many things now that used to be permanent fixtures in our life. We thus fear the times they are a-changin’.


In fact, loss (change) of the things we are attached to is the very definition of suffering. I thought of three categories where we can place all changing, and thus suffering.


Let’s make the first category of change the big one ­– death ­– where all material attachments are obliterated. As death causes the biggest change, it is therefore the greatest suffering. It does, however, do one very important thing. It informs our life that all our material attachments, even those serving some purpose at the time, are temporary, and only gain real value when connected to the eternal.[1]


There are times in life when we may not feel immediately threatened with death, but still major fixtures in our world are seriously disturbed. Let’s call that second category of change calamity. We will see how the pandemic and the resultant unrest plays out, but we can’t discount the possibility of it turning into a more serious calamity, where our key life foundations are endangered. The times they are a-changin’ doesn’t bode well.


For one in the consciousness of enjoyer, daily life is suffering, because to enjoy we need to be the controller, and we are just not. We thus suffer from one small change that goes against our desire to another, from the common flu to relational disappointments, and so on. The third category of change we can just call daily life.


Attachment means suffering, because whether it is small changes, calamitous ones, or final ones, everything we like will change, and we have no power to control that. The only solution is to become unmoved by the changes around us. That is called detachment, which does not just mean to renounce things, but to be satisfied with God’s will no matter how He moves the world around us. Here is how it works:


A spiritual person is unmoved by destiny because he views it differently. Rather than seeing destiny as happiness, which is beyond one’s control, he views the development of consciousness as happiness, which is dependent on one’s free will. He thus remains detached from the changes in the world, because they have little bearing on his main objective of enlightenment. Every change is thus simply a different opportunity to develop one’s inner life, or to serve God. For such a person the times they are a-changin’ hardly matters.


“Devotees solely engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, never fear any condition of life. For them the heavenly planets, liberation and the hellish planets are all the same, for such devotees are interested only in the service of the Lord.” (Bhag.  6.17.28)



[1] An example of connecting a material attachment to the eternal is family life, but only if one does it as dharma, meaning properly according to one’s duties ordained by God.


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