Time has awesome power – physically, it can make attractive forms unattractive; psychologically, it can make cherished resolutions seem like burdens; spiritually, it can make the imperishable knowledge about life’s ultimate purpose inaccessible.
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Spiritual knowledge about our essence, origin and destiny is co-eternal with creation – it is a gift provided by our source, Krishna, to help us fulfill our deepest purpose. The Bhagavad-gita (04.01) outlines how this knowledge is made available from the dawn of creation. Generation after generation, spiritual seers pass it to their students, who in turn become seers and pass it on. However, time degrades people’s consciousness, thereby destroying their access to that knowledge (04.02).
Though the knowledge itself is imperishable, it becomes inaccessible whenever immature practitioners render it impotent or irrelevant. For it to stay potent, it has to stay connected with the root of the tradition, Krishna, for it is meant to connect us all with him. For it to stay relevant, it has to be made intelligible and applicable to contemporary people; otherwise who will it benefit? Staying connected with Krishna requires fidelity; staying connected with contemporary people requires flexibility. If the stewards of spiritual knowledge, because of contaminated consciousness, lose either fidelity or flexibility, they make that knowledge inaccessible.
Whenever such spiritual darkness occurs, Krishna, the universal spiritual mentor, arranges to grant access again. Sometimes, he descends himself; sometimes, he sends his representative. More often, he guides the sincerely devoted to find the delicate balance between fidelity and flexibility. Being guided from within their hearts, they chart the path to spiritual fulfillment in their situation and with their disposition.
For those who feel spiritually lost in dark and confusing times, the Gita offers an uplifting insight: Krishna is the Lord of time too. What time makes inaccessible by its inexorable power, Krishna makes accessible again by his inexhaustible mercy.