One smoggy afternoon while I was chanting Krishna’s holy names, I began to feel sleepy, so I put down my beads, shuffled over to my computer, and looked at MSN news, where I came across a photo feature about things to do when you reach 40.
Well, I thought, why not? I have been over 40 for a long time. So I took a quick look, and one item caught my eye. “Get out of your comfort zone,” it said.
“Comfort zone”? Hmmm. I looked it up in my computer’s dictionary and found the following: “a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.”
The definition was followed by an example that coincidentally served as a warning: “If you stay within your comfort zone, you will never improve.”
A Miserable Place
It can only be imaginary, I thought, because there is no place in this world where anyone is safe or at ease. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that even the topmost planet in this universe is a miserable place with repeated birth and death.
Your imaginary sense of safety and ease will leave you unprepared when death and disease swoop down on you.
And they will.
My own comfort zone —my apartment, my friends, my optimism—could not save me from being carried onto an operating table after my fifth heart attack.
Thus ended my comfort zone. But I was lucky to be kicked out. Many devotees are still snuggling in their own comfort zones, and what’s worse, they have also squeezed Krishna Consciousness inside.
After all, it’s a nice religion, isn’t it? A little altar on a shelf in the kitchen for offering food, and I don’t have to think about anything anymore.
Develop a Desire for Krishna
But Krishna Consciousness is not some mindless religion. Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that the goal of bhakti yoga, or Krishna Consciousness, is to develop a desire to attain Him.
And as my dictionary says, you can’t improve unless you leave your comfort zone. Now I’m not saying you have to put your easy chair and footstool out on the street for someone to take away.
But beware. Don’t let these things lull you into thinking you have nothing more to attain. When a disciple told me that many devotees do not read the Bhagavad Gita anymore because they have read it once and think they have no more to learn from it, I thought of the Chinese expression “To swallow the date whole.”
It means to read a book without absorbing anything. And I can see it. I can tell that devotees feeling snug in their comfort zone do not read the scriptures or even think about them.
At the end of class when I ask for questions, they sit silent and unresponsive, like potted chrysanthemums nodding in the breeze.
Explain the Bhagavad Gita
Are you serious about the Bhagavad Gita ? Then get your feet down from your footstool and stand up from your easy chair and start looking for Krishna because Krishna says that the goal of this teaching is to develop a desire to attain Him.
And the way to attain Him is devotional service.
He recommends preaching, especially explaining the Bhagavad Gita to the devotees.
So read it again, and over again, and still again until it becomes part of you, and keep preaching it until you find Krishna no matter how many years it takes.
Then, and only then, will you find the true comfort zone.
Eternally touching my head to the lotus feet of my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada,
⁓Umapati Swami, July 17, 2018
© 2018 Umapati Swami
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the teacher who brought Krishna Consciousness from India to the West and then to the rest of the world. He is the founder of the worldwide Hare Krishna Movement as well as the author and compiler of many works of Vedic knowledge. He left this world in 1977.
One of the first American devotees of the Hare Krishna Movement, he became Srila Prabhupada’s disciple in 1966. Since then, he has preached Krishna Consciousness in many countries and is the author of “My Days with Prabhupada,” available from Amazon. Now 84 years old, he has started this blog to share what he has learned.