It has become a ritual to celebrate the new year. But is celebrating justified?
Yet another year is drawing to a close. It is customary for us to celebrate the new year with parties, fireworks, and wishes to friends. The present pandemic will play spoilsport this year, at least to the extravagant bashes, but some will still find a way around the regulations. The first few days of January will resonate with ‘Happy New Year’ messages. In the past, people used to send each other cards; nowadays, it is on the phone and social media.
But exactly, what are we celebrating? What did we do the past year that deserves a celebration? Have we come closer to our goal of achieving everlasting happiness - the sole purpose of human birth - in the past year?
Business people take stock of their revenues and expenditures at the end of the financial year. In that way, they come to know where they stand; if a company suffers losses, then it will not start the next year by splurging and partying. If the company wishes to succeed, it will double down, put in more significant effort, introspect, and rectify the areas where it went wrong. People become rich by being super vigilant with every penny earned and spent. Often, the profits are only in pennies, but it amounts to a lot when they add up.
What about us? Are we similarly vigilant with our spiritual earnings and losses? Have we taken stock of where we stand at the end of the year? If we have not, we should. To be successful in the divine’s world, we must show significant commitment and care; there are no short-cuts, neither in the material world nor with God.
We have time for everything and everyone but God. Some of you may protest - but I pray and worship God every day. How can you say that I don’t have time for God? You deserve praise if you worship God every day; you are better than most. Many people have no interest in God, a number that is increasing in the modern age. Of the rest, most do not know the basics of worship. For them, God is a wish-fulfilling tree, and the wishes run like this - job, relief from disease, money, career advancement, and sundry. It is incorrect to describe such people as believers or worshipers of God. They are worshipers of material desires, and they believe, mistakenly, that God will fulfill these desires.
As for the rest, a tiny number who understand divine philosophy because of a saint’s association, most of us have only a perfunctory relationship with the Almighty. We know what we have to do, but we do not put in the effort.
According to a 1993 study published by the American Psychological Association, it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill. This translates to 9 years, if we devote 4 hours a day and 5 days a week to that skill. What sort of skill? Learning piano or chess, being a top-notch athlete, and suchlike. Let us experiment on ourselves and note how many hours we spend each day on what activity. For a typical person like us who professes to be God-loving, the lion’s share of his 24 hours will be spent resting and earning money for sustenance. A smaller percentage will be for family, friends, and entertainment. We will leave only a tiny fraction for God and the guru. If we are honest with ourselves, we see that this valid for most of us. Not all, but most of us.
It takes 10,000 hours to master a mundane skill. Are we devoting that kind of time to God? If we don’t, how can we expect headway in our spiritual journey? 10,000 hours and 9 years - these figures indeed sound daunting to us. But saints assure us that only the first few baby steps are difficult; the latter part of the journey will be on autopilot. It has been said often that there is a 20-day rule. If we fasten our minds on God and meditate on him for 20 days with sincerity and regularity, this will turn into a habit, and we will get pleasure from it.
God is the font of bliss, and if we fasten our minds on Him, it is natural that we will get a glimmer of that bliss after some time. This glimmer will whet our appetites, and the rest of the journey will be far more comfortable. This is what the saints assure us.
When Ravan lay dying, Lord Rama sent Laxman to get advice about the world. One gem that Ravan told Laxman was - ‘complete any auspicious work as soon as possible and keep delaying inauspicious work as long as possible.’ The main issue is care, how much we care for something. If we feel that God is more important than our worldly duties, we will allocate more time to Him and put off many things for some other day.
Many activities are not essential to us. A famous saint has said, ‘If you truly wish your well being, never forget to keep these two things in mind - one is inevitable death, and the other, God.’ It is helpful to a spiritual seeker if he keeps impending death in mind at all times. This will narrow down the seeker’s bucket list and make it easier to discard what is not essential. Taking care of critical needs is fine; no scripture tells us to stop doing that. But we must ensure that the remaining time does not go to waste.
Note: If you have any spiritual queries, feel free to ask. Devi Ji may answer your query as a blog post here. Send your query to,
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