Don’t eternalize the present; contextualize it

When we face problems, they sometimes overwhelm us so much that we can’t think of anything else. We feel as if the problem will never be solved. The dread of living with it for all time to come cripples our ability to deal with it constructively. At such times, we succumb to the error of eternalizing the present.

To correct or prevent the error, we can meditate on the Bhagavad-gita (2.16): nasato vidyate bhavo “Of the non-existent, there is no endurance.” The word asat reminds us that the present is fleeting; it exists now, but will soon be over. To appreciate this, let’s think about our past overwhelming problems: a major exam, a critical job interview, a vital public speech. Hindsight shows us that they were not worth getting overwhelmed. They came and they went. So will the present problem. This reflection enables us to contextualize the problem as temporary.

What if the problem seems likely to stay lifelong with us? Gita wisdom reassures us that our life is much bigger than this lifetime, for we are eternal souls. The same Gita verse continues: nabhavo vidyate satah “Of the eternal there is no cessation.” In the eternal lies our ultimate legacy that is available to us at every moment, even the present moment.  That supreme treasure is our all-attractive beloved Krishna. Once we connect with him through devotion and relish the sweetness of his love, the present, no matter how imposing, will no longer seem crushing.

What if the present sometimes makes specific forms of devotional service difficult or impossible? Thankfully, Krishna is an understanding God. He accepts whatever service we render sincerely according to our capacities and circumstances and gives us his grace. That grace will inspire, guide and empower us to integrate the present into our growth path to a glorious future: eternal life with Krishna.

Train yourself to avoid mental potholes
Are my attachments holding me or am I holding my attachments?
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