The True Value Of Life

If life becomes more beautiful and miraculous because it is so short, and I decide to end my life tomorrow … then after making this decision, life should seem overwhelmingly beautiful and miraculous. In such a case, how could someone commit suicide? The beauty and miracle, therefore, are independent of life itself.

 

I wanted to share with you some philosophical thoughts that I wrote to a friend. Some speak about the false show of courage of the materialists who claim that the world is beautiful and “miraculous”, and that the brevity of life does not detract from it, but in fact it makes it more interesting, therefore they have no interest in an eternal soul or God.

 

When we lose something that has a positive value and our loss does not bring in itself an even more valuable awakening, nor is it replaced by anything else of equal or greater value, then such a loss must have a negative value that corresponds precisely to the positive value that was lost. A simple example: if I lose ten dollars, I lose precisely that positive value, in this case ten dollars. If I invest ten dollars and turn them into twenty, that is not a loss. Similarly, if I give ten dollars in charity, the reward can easily outweigh the “loss.” Or as Krishna explains in the Gita, when a passionate person gives charity, he or she is really purchasing recognition and fame. A more virtuous person would enjoy the happiness of virtue itself. If we simply lose ten dollars (fall out of our pocket) and we do not care, that means those ten dollars just are not that important to us.

 

So, the more we value this miraculous world, the more the unredeemed loss of life must constitute a negative value. One can argue that the very temporariness of life, its brevity, increases its value. We appreciate every moment of life, just as people value great diamonds, precisely because they are scarce. I think that this argument ultimately fails to reach the highest sense of the “valuable”. For some, the value of a huge diamond lies in its rarity. But that is more a social vanity, a marketing influence; for example, the pleasure of owning, or possessing, that which so few possess. The true value of the diamond must lie in its intrinsic beauty, which is splendid, and not in the vanity of having what so few possess. The authentic, wonderful beauty of a diamond can not depend on the price of such objects on earth. Here there are innumerable snowflakes, however each of them is beautiful, regardless of whether they have a low “market price”.

 

Similarly, the true enjoyment of a diamond can not depend on knowing that one is going to lose it soon. Such foresight can inspire one to “enjoy while one can,” but one who truly appreciates nature does not depend on such factors. True appreciation will not depend on the amount available to us of the appreciate object.

 

Such true appreciation is not dependent on, nor is it subject to, permanent loss, nor is it based on rarity or preponderance.

 

Conclusion: knowledge of the eventual death of the body can lead one to appreciate and value life more, but one who truly appreciates life will not stop there, but will diligently seek a way to continue personal, conscious existence beyond the temporary body. In other words, the miracle of life should guide us to deepen our awareness of our eternal nature.

Krishna West Council (KWC)

Dear Devotees,

Jaya Prabhupada! I am happy to announce that we have formed a Krishna West Council, composed of senior KW leaders around the world, and this Council will now take responsibility for overseeing the affairs of Krishna West, so that I can rest and write.

The Council will focus initially on the following issues:

1. Establishing clear standards for individual and project membership in KW.

2. Establishing clear standards for authorized KW media, whether digital, print, audio, or video.

3. Improving KW’s image by making easily available reliable information.

Any devotees with questions, suggestions, or complaints about Krishna West are kindly requested to write to the Council at krishnawest.com/get-in-touch/ (choose General Inquiries).

I hope that all sincere devotees interested in Krishna West will cooperate with our Council. Thank you.

 

Your well-wisher,
Hridayananda das Goswami

On This Day 48 Years Ago…

Dear Devotees,

Jaya Prabhupada! Today, Thursday, is the 48th anniversary of my first initiation, given to me by Prabhupada in Los Angeles, on February 8, 1970. Prabhupada did a simple fire sacrifice, and spoke on the importance of Krishna consciousness. I was thrilled, really ecstatic, to be in Prabhupada’s presence. There is of course my famous blunder regarding my name. In those days, after the initiation ceremony, the temple leaders would give each new initiate a little slip of paper with their new name written on. Some devotes had trouble understanding when Prabhupada spoke their new name in Sanskrit, and others were simply too nervous and excited to remember what their name was. I received a little piece of paper with the name Hridayananda Dasa. I was young and that particular combination of letters, Hri was so foreign to my sight, that concluded at once that the devotee who wrote that misspelled my name, and that my real name was Haridayananda, which in Sanskrit means “the bliss of Hari’s mercy.” And so I told everyone that my name was Haridayananda. And that was my name for the next five months, until I wrote a letter to Prabhupada. He replied, saying something like, “by the way, your name is Hridayananda.” He explained that this referred to the Lord in the heart that gives us all spiritual happiness.

There is even a Back to Godhead article in 1970, written by Haridayananda dasa Brahmacari. That was me!

But of course the real point is our great fortune in receiving the mercy of a great Vaishnava Acarya like Prabhupada.

Your well-wisher,
Hridayananda das Goswami

A New Year’s Message from H.D.Goswami

Dear Devotees,

Jaya Srila Prabhupada! A New Year is now quickly approaching. You probably know by now how fast time passes in this world, and because of this how precious every Krishna conscious moment is in this human life. Personally, in this world, I want to appreciate, now more than ever, how invaluable time in Krishna consciousness is. My goal is to advance in my personal path, doing everything I can for the well being of this sad world.

Your well-wisher,
Hridayananda das Goswami

October 22, 2017

Chawton, England

Dear Devotees,

Jaya Prabhupada! As you probably know, I recently returned from India where I had a very encouraging meeting with the GBC. I am grateful to the GBC members for receiving me with great courtesy and kindness, and for being so willing to openly and fairly discuss serious topics of mutual concern. As you will see in the link below, at this point we must all put conflict behind us within ISKCON and work together for the good of Prabhupada’s mission.

The “shared statement” below, which I helped to draft, is a sincere and honest statement of mutual good will, and a determination to find appropriate ways to strengthen our cooperation. I urge all devotees who truly support me to strictly honor this statement and avoid criticizing ISKCON leaders, or any devotees who favor preaching strategies different from ours. Rather with genuine good will, we should treat all Prabhupada’s followers with respect and consideration.

I am deeply grateful to all of you who have understood and supported me. Now is the time to do all we can to strengthen unity and cooperation within ISKCON. Prabhupada wants this and the world needs it.

With best wishes,
Hridayananda das Goswami
October 22, 2017

Shared Statement of the GBC Body & Hridayananda Das Goswami