William Shakespeare writes about the phase of a young adult in his famous “All the world’s stage” poem:
‘Then a soldier,
full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation
even in the cannon’s mouth.’
This is the psyche of a man who is emerging as an adult, filled with passion to serve a purpose, setting certain goals and grooming himself as a grown-up. He commands respect and instantly protests when his honour is questioned. But this beautiful period of our life where we could use our full potential goes to the gutters when the motivation within is misdirected by external allurements.
The power of media is such that, it enamours us through advertisements promising cheap enjoyments and takes away the vitality of our lives. Youth-hood is the most crucial time of our lives. We need to take stock of where we invest our energies and resources, how are we utilising the God-given intelligence. To be clear in such decision making, we have to be diligent in our intent and inspiration.
INSPIRATIONS OF THREE KINDS
Inspiration is of three kinds. The ability or urge to do something, the creative power and the spirit which leads to outstanding achievement. These are due to the influence of three modes of material nature.
Our history shows that Hiranyakashipu also was inspired, but by the urge to destroy all opposition. Such inspiration to destroy is in the mode of ignorance. Whereas, the inspiration driven by passion is seen in a boy getting enthusiastic to go to college just to see a beautiful young girl. And, the inspiration in the mode of goodness is transformative. For example, After seeing the devastating consequences of a terrific battle, The Great King Ashoka felt a change of heart and decided to be a servant of humanity. Likewise, Mother Teresa also was inspired by the suﬀering of humanity and dedicated her life to caring for the dying and needy.
THE RIGHT KIND OF INSPIRATION
Those who’re in goodness like to maintain, those in passion like to create and those who are in ignorance are inspired to destroy. Whereas, In Krishna Consciousness, the basic motto is to inspire every soul in the human form of life to achieve the ultimate goal of life which is beyond the three modes of material nature.
etāṁ sa āsthāya parātma-niṣṭhām adhyāsitāṁ pūrvatamair maharṣibhiḥ ahaṁ tariṣyāmi duranta-pāraṁ
“I shall cross over the insurmountable ocean of nescience by being firmly fixed in the service of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. This was approved by the previous ācāryas, who were fixed in firm devotion to the Lord, Paramātmā, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
So, this is the inspiration and intention of a person in the path of self-discovery striving towards transcending the material modes to attain the love of Godhead. Crossing the vast and miserable ocean of repeated birth and death is not easy and is overwhelmingly diﬃcult. Endeavouring for such perfection needs resolute determination and constant inspiration drawn from people who’ve mastered the art of self-realisation.
WHY NOW WHEN WE’RE YOUNG?
Some of us may defend that, “We agree on the fact that we have to cross this material ocean, and enter into the spiritual world, but what’s the hurry? We have got a whole lifetime ahead. We can’t enjoy it at the age of 60 or 70. Now, this age of youth is the time we get to experience all varieties of sense enjoyment. Why bother about subjects like spirituality?” But how to tell who is young and who is old?
Who is young and who is old?
The typical responses are “When I cannot walk any longer, then I’m old.” Or “When I cannot properly chew food, then I’m old.” Well, several youngsters also lose their legs and are unable to walk, and even children’s teeth fall away and they can’t chew the food properly. From the spiritual perspective, there is only one understanding of youth and old age and that is, “What is the proximity to death?” To the extent one is close to death, he is defined as old and to the extent one is far away from death, he is defined as young.
DEATH IS EQUAL TO EVERYONE
We have to realise that death can devour us at any moment. People are fighting for equal rights elsewhere but death generously provides it. Therefore, we have to appreciate the fact that we don’t have much time in this body and utilise and invest our time in cultivating the love of God as this is the only path that can help us transcend the cycle of birth, death, disease and old age. As souls, we are eternal servants of God. Forgetting this simple fact has led to a snowball eﬀect of utter ignorance and pushed us to the dualities of material enjoyments and suﬀering in this temporary world.
Remembering this as early as possible and striving to purify our consciousness from all the contamination from several million lifetimes by serving the purpose God has designed for us shall deliver us from the clutches of illusion. As quoted from Shakespeare at the beginning “Full of strange oaths and bearded like a (leo)pard,” a young man has to take vows of servitude, not for the nation, family or society but the welfare of all living entities and one own soul. And he must be fierce as a leopard in his faith with great conviction and endeavour with great determination to become self-realised with the help of bonafide spiritual guides.