Monday Morning Greetings 2021 #39 – The Four Pillars of Peaceful Life

September 27th, 2021

I have almost completed six years of faithfully putting out Monday Morning Greetings without fail. I will happily continue that service, but now if something comes up that makes it difficult to complete the weekly post, rather than do a marathon to finish it, I will just draw from what I wrote six years ago, confident that it will still seem fresh to my reader. That certainly won’t happen often. I just enjoy the challenge of writing a weekly post based on a new thought or realization. Well, here is one posting from five years ago:


The Four Pillars of Peaceful Life


There are four foundations of life that a traditional society automatically provides its community so that people can focus on spiritual life and not preoccupy their minds with worry. They form the basis of a peaceful life.

  1. Where one will live
  2. Whom one will marry
  3. What one’s occupation will be
  4. Who one’s guru is

I will discuss each individually, but first I ask you to reflect. Are these things settled in your life? If not, how much time and mental energy do you spend to fulfill the ones not settled? If they are fulfilled, how much struggle did you face to achieve that? And finally, if they have been provided, how grateful are you to the culture and people who have facilitated that?


Where you are going to live:

Tejiyas dasa, a close godbrother of mine, whom Srila Prabhupada asked to start the kisān (farm) movement and who seems to know as much about economics as anyone, once shared with me an insight gleaned from his study of real economics (sustainable living). He told me that just by being born, living, and dying in the same place, at least 90 percent of one’s economic and social problems are solved. Without elaborating more deeply, just starting life without a mortgage by being gifted a residence by your parents (the traditional system), having a lifelong community support program, and being assured protection and care in old age (and innumerable other advantages), one is gifted a substantial financial, social, and emotional advantage in life. Life’s natural struggles are difficult enough without having to find out where home is. You are lucky if you have never had to negotiate the problem of where you should live.


Whom you are going to marry:

I listened to a thought-provoking talk by Professor Barry Schwartz called “The Paradox of Choice.” Professor Schwartz showed that although modern life offers us more choices, decisions are increasingly more difficult to make, because we are constantly agonizing over which choice gives us the most enjoyment.


What caught my attention most was Schwartz’s statement from personal experience that every five years, he gives 25 percent less homework to his students, because the students have become increasingly preoccupied with thinking about, maintaining, and finding a boyfriend or girlfriend. There is so much mental energy that goes into such endeavors when there is not a system and culture in society to fulfill the most fundamental need for a lifelong partner. A culture that facilitates finding a suitable partner at an early age is, although not perfect, still a blessing. How fortunate not to have to waste our mental energy in such endeavors!


What your occupation will be:

One of the most important aspects of life is finding an occupation that not only reciprocates our economic needs but is also fulfilling. Again without going into the details, varṇāśrama (the social/economic system of ancient India) provided full employment to it citizens, with training and work according to one’s qualification. Work that both reasonably reciprocates one’s needs for maintenance and is suitable to one’s psychophysical nature can be one’s joy in life, not just a chore. Such work also facilitates one’s spiritual life, which often entails some tapasyā, discipline, as after work one can enter one’s practices with a peaceful mind. Oppressive work demanding long hours and travel and less-than-ideal work conditions exhausts one. When one returns home from such a job, the last thing one has energy for is the discipline of spiritual practice. Rather, for relief, one gravitates to the couch, the TV, and, often, a beer. One is fortunate to find one’s occupational calling. Tradition, especially varṇāśrama, did a much better job of doing that.


Who your guru is:

There is an old Indian saying: Don’t go to a village that doesn’t have a river, a doctor, or a brāhmaṇa (spiritual teacher). Previously, most villages and towns in India had bona fide teachers from authentic spiritual lines who were thoroughly trained. Today, even if one transcends the propaganda of mass media that increasing material life is one’s goal, it is still difficult to find a bona fide teacher, and even if one does find one and has minimal self-discipline, there are still so many cheaters in the name of spirituality. To find one’s path and teacher is the greatest fortune.


What if I don’t have a spouse or a job or have not found my place? Of course, ultimately, whatever God sends or doesn’t send our way is meant to bring us closer to Him. Krishna has a unique way to bring each of us closer to Him. We should have full faith in that. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try for a stable life. Just as it is one’s duty to try to both maintain one’s health and to see disease that comes one’s way as God’s mercy, one must reasonably endeavor to stabilize one’s life and at the same time accept one’s lot in life.


We sometimes dismiss traditional society when we feel that its principles are not intelligently applied, but we should never lose sight of its wisdom. They offer the basic foundations for a peaceful life. We should understand their value and appreciate the culture that provides them.



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