The loose ends never end
Many of us delay taking up spiritual life because of the pressures to improve our material life: our finances, fitness and family’s prospects, for example. We tell ourselves, “I know I have to focus on spiritual life. But first I have to fix a few loose ends.”
However, the process of fixing loose ends has no end. By the time we finish fixing our present set of loose ends, a set of earlier-fixed ends become loose and a whole new set of loose ends comes up. The Bhagavad-gita (09.33) acknowledges this permanently problematic nature of the world (anityam asukham lokam) and so urges us to practice devotional service (imam prapya bhajasva mam). Here, the Gita recommends not material pessimism, but intelligent optimism.
To appreciate the Gita’s reasoning we need to look at ourselves from a multi-life perspective. We have spent all our previous lives struggling to fix loose ends and what has that struggle given us? This life’s struggle to fix loose ends. And what will this struggle give us? Future lifetime(s) of struggles to fix loose ends.
This way, the loose ends will never end.
That’s why letting our material obligations monopolize our time is tragically self-defeating.
We need to balance our material obligations and our spiritual opportunities by allocating time for both according to a thoughtful far-sighted plan. Within the time allocated for our material obligations, we act as diligently and competently as possible. But irrespective of whether these efforts are successful or not, we uncompromisingly offer a basic minimum time to Krishna through exclusive engagement in devotional service. That offering – and that offering alone – will end our struggle to fix loose ends by taking us to a place where there are no loose ends to fix, a place free from all material anxiety: Vaikuntha.
“How much more this is so of the righteous brahmanas, the devotees and the saintly kings. Therefore, having come to this temporary, miserable world, engage in loving service unto Me.”