You Cannot Improve Your Material Condition
(A homeless man on the Bowery, New York City)

Prabhupāda: You cannot improve a single inch than you are destined. That is not possible. That is not possible. If you want to increase your so-called happiness, then you simply waste your time. That is Prahlāda Mahārāja's instruction. Na tat prayāsaṁ kartavyam. "I am not in a good position economically. Let me try to improve it." That you cannot. Otherwise in New York City, so opulent, so materially advanced, why we see so many men in the Central Park lying on the bench? Why? They do not belong to the poor nation or poor city. Still, because he's destined, he must lie down there. Maybe he is rich man's son or born in rich nation, but because he's destined to suffer, he must lie down there. Because he's destined to suffer, he must become a hippie.

So you cannot stop it. You cannot stop it. That is not possible. Therefore those who are advanced in knowledge, they do not try for all these nonsense, improving material condition. It will not make happy; it will increase problems. The so-called happiness will increase problems, and you have to deal with that problem, then again another problem, another problem. Daivī hy eṣā guṇamayī mama māyā duratyayā (BG 7.14). Just like they are trying to control over the laws of material nature. That is impossible. It will never be possible. If you solve one question, then you will have to meet with thousands of other questions. It is not possible.

So... Therefore Vedic literature says that 'Do not waste your time in that way. Better you utilize your valuable time to understand Kṛṣṇa. Then your life is successful.' Yasmin vijñāte sarvam eva vijñātaṁ bhavanti. If you simply try to understand Kṛṣṇa, then you'll understand everything very nicely. Just like we sometimes challenge the big, big scientists, philosophers, psychologists, but we are not psychologist or scientist. Ten years before, in my Easy Journey to Other Planet, I have written that "This moon-going attempt is childish and waste of time." And still we are challenging that "Mars-going, so-called, it will also fail." Write it: It will fail. Not that process. So how we are saying? How we are challenging these big, big scientists? Because we know from the Vedic literature that it is not possible to go to the moon planet or Mars in that way. It is not possible. You have to qualify yourself. Just like to come to America one has to qualify himself for the proper visa, passport, and so many other things, bank balance, this, that. How you can go to the other? They are higher planetary system. So this is all childish. But if you want to go at all, then it is possible if you follow the proper process. That is described in the Bhagavad-gītā:

    yānti deva-vratā devān
    pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
    bhūtāni yānti bhūtejya
    yānti mad-yājino 'pi mām
    (BG 9.25)

So the intelligent person, they will try to attempt for this, mad-yājino 'pi yānti mām. "Let me become a devotee of Kṛṣṇa so that next life I go directly to Kṛṣṇaloka."

    mām upetya kaunteya
    duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam
    nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ
    saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ
    (BG 8.15)

That is the highest perfection of life.

So if we accept... If we little understand this philosophy, that "There is another life, which is eternal, blissful life of knowledge," if we simply become serious to go to that life, then the Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the only method. But if we want to live in this rotten life of material existence, then we can continue. Yathecchasi tathā kuru (BG 18.63). Whatever you like, you can do. But if you have got little inclination, then there is process. Therefore in the previous verse we have read, sad-dharmasyāvabodhāya yeṣāṁ nirbandhinī matiḥ. Sad-dharma means eternal life. Dharma means occupational duty. Here we are engaged in temporary occupational duty. That this dull brain cannot understand. Now I have got Indian body or American body, I am engaged in American consciousness, but as soon as the body is changed, I get the dog's body, then dog's consciousness. Whole thing changed. So therefore it is temporary. This consciousness is temporary, say for fifty years or a hundred years utmost. But this dull brain cannot understand that there is a life of eternity, blissful knowledge... Just like a madman cannot understand.

So our task is very difficult. We have to cure so many. It is not possible to cure all of them, but as far as possible we are trying to cure, and simply one has to accept this philosophy seriously, then he'll get knowledge.

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, July 13, 1976)

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