Holiday Wisdom, Part 1: Gettin' Existential with Krishna

Krishna quote from Bhagavad Gita
Pictured above: the Crescent Nebula, 5,000 light-years from Earth.
Image Credit: APOD, Michael Miller, Jimmy Walker
Quote Source: The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran

In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. Perhaps now would be an opportune time to gain a little bit of perspective.

In the classic Hindu text The Bhagavad Gita, on the eve of a great battle, deity-incarnate Krishna takes on the role of Guru to the warrior-prince Arjuna. What Krishna offers Arjuna is a harshly idealistic perspective: one of cosmic indifference, in which all living beings are mere pawns on a cosmic chessboard that's completely beyond our ability to comprehend. 

Behind it all, Krishna is an avatar of of Vishnu, the preserver of the universe; the cosmos (meaning order) is sustained by Krishna, as is everything that occurs within it—including time.

Krishna quote from Bhagavad Gita: Time, destroyer of all
Pictured above: Messier 58, a galaxy 68 million light-years from Earth.
Image Credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona
Quote Source: The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran

To the untrained eye, time may seem just as innocuous as the—well, as the passage of time. Like the slow dripping of a faucet, it may appear, at a glance, inconsequential in the grand scheme of everything.

But given enough time, that slow dripping faucet could fill an ocean. Given infinite time, that faucet could fill a boundless universe with an infinitely vast cosmic ocean. From this colossal cosmic perspective, everything that exists seems insignificant next to the eternal passage of time. 

In time, everything will decay. All that lives must die. Our Sun will die. Our galaxy will be torn apart by entropy. In the deep, dark future, even black holes will evaporate—given enough time. 

Krishna is a representation of how human beings can reconcile their finite existence with the implications of infinite time. Even though everything that exists now will eventually die off and decay, this doesn't mean that human lives are meaningless, or that our existence is ultimately pointless.

On the contrary, the very fact that we exist, that there is something rather than nothing, hints that there is some sort of innate cosmic order built into the universe. Whether this something is divine, metaphysical, or merely coincidental doesn't matter. 13.8 billion years ago, there was a big bang (we think)—from there, the universe created us. And here we are today in 2016. All that's left now is to decide what we're here for.

Just some food for thought, to help wash down those shortbread cookies. Happy Holidays!

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Part 2 of this Holiday Wisdom series will be dropping on Thursday, and Part 3 will come on Saturday. If you're interested in this classic text of Hindu Philosophy, check it out on Amazon: