When the present presents us with difficulties, we often turn to our memories of past emotionally fulfilling moments for inspiration.
As our culture bombards us with a media blitz, our strongest emotions usually come from such media images. For example, our most joyous recent memories may have been when our favorite sports team won a championship or when our favorite hero bashed up a villain in a movie climax.
However, such memories are largely disconnected from our actual lives. So, they provide us feelings without meanings.They may emotionally transport us away from our present difficulties, but when we return to the present, they don’t help us much to make sense of what is happening. If we try to draw upon such memories in demanding times, we soon find ourselves internally bankrupt; we get titillation, but no illumination.
Gita wisdom offers us a much better alternative. The Bhagavad-gita (13.11-12) recommends that we cultivate undistracted devotional remembrance of Krishna and thereby steady ourselves amidst life’s dualities. To be able to remember Krishna, we need to regularly fill our memory with devotionally surcharging images and experiences of his enchanting deities, soothing holy names, electrifying kirtans, magnetizing pastimes, loving devotees and absorbing service.
When we draw on such a devotional memory bank in difficult times, these memories quickly draw us into them. They enable us to re-experience the warmth of Krishna’s love and the reality of his grace, as we had experienced in the past. Thereafter, when we return to the present, we are emotionally enlivened and intellectually empowered to discover, by Krishna’s grace, the growth opportunity hidden within the present difficulty.
Thus, when we make our memory a devotional treasury, it offers both emotional relief for our troubled hearts and intellectual direction for our perplexed heads.
“Humility; pridelessness; nonviolence; tolerance; simplicity; approaching a bona ﬁde spiritual master; cleanliness; steadiness; self-control; renunciation of the objects of sense gratiﬁcation; absence of false ego; the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease; detachment; freedom from entanglement with children, wife, home and the rest; even-mindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events; constant and unalloyed devotion to Me; aspiring to live in a solitary place; detachment from the general mass of people; accepting the importance of self-realization; and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth – all these I declare to be knowledge, and besides this whatever there may be is ignorance.”