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By His Holiness Danavir Goswami
Suppose your wealthy great grandfather, a former minister of finance, set up a trust fund with you as the beneficiary. You are to receive an extremely generous amount of money each month—far more than sufficient to supply you and your family's entire needs throughout your lives. Your grandfather used his pull in the government to incorporate two conditions in the trust, which he then had established by a federal injunction binding upon you and the state.
1. In the event that you acquire money from sources other than the trust fund, that same amount will automatically be deducted from your trust allotment— thus leaving you only with the amount of the trust allotment.
2. If you choose to disregard the trust allotment altogether and instead depend exclusively on your own outside earnings:
a. You will be taxed 100% for all funds you earn that surpass the amount of the trust's monthly allotment— thus leaving you with only with the amount of the trust allotment.
b. You will be subsidized 100% for all funds you earn which fall below the amount of the trust's monthly allotment—thus leaving you with only with the amount of the trust allotment.
You and your attorney examine the trust document and the following discussion takes place.
Attorney: Basically, your great grandfather wants to overlord your life to a large degree. He has drawn up this trust fund for you but he has arranged it so that you cannot get more or less than exactly what he has decided for you to have. There is nothing you can do to increase or decrease the amount.
Attorney: I'm afraid your grandfather was as clever as a fox. He's gotten this trust fund legalized in every state of the union and there is a clause in the directive that forbids the government from retracting it. He must have really had a lot of power to swing something like this. I've never seen such an all-encompassing document.
You: Why would he do this?
Attorney: That is a question I cannot answer. I never met your great grandfather. All I can say is there is no way to get around this decree, you might as well accept it because legally you are obliged to receive the amount designated in the trust fund covenant. But if I were you, I wouldn't squawk too much because you'll be in good shape.
You: But what if there is inflation and the funds become devalued?
Attorney: He's got that covered too. Your funds are sent from Swiss banks and are backed by a huge quantity of real gold bullion. An adjustment for varying currency rates is built into the equation assuring you to receive the exact same buying value under all circumstances.
After learning about the trust fund and all of its ramifications, you decide to investigate further. You call your elder cousin Lou and ask him if you could come over and talk. Upon your arrival the following conversation takes place:
You: Lou, you are also a member of the Eeshwhar family, did you get a trust fund set up in your name?
Lou: I certainly did. But my great granduncle Parry is not going to ruin my life by forcing me to live within his parameters.
You: Ruin your life? What do mean?
Lou: Why should I settle for living on the measly allowance Parry M. Eeshwhar dictates for me? I could earn ten times that much if I was free to.
You: How would you do that?
Lou: Are you kidding? I would develop my company, then go public, then merge with another company, then buy them out and make a fortune. Just like Bill Gates.
You: So what are you going to do about this binding trust fund.
Lou: Don't you worry, I've got three lawyers helping me draw up a counter document which will negate the effect of his. Besides that I'm studying law at night school so I can defeat this ridiculous trust fund case.
You: What's that you're taking?
Lou: Oh. It's some medicine which is supposed to calm the nerves. I get hyperactive and the doctor says I should take this stuff but honestly I find a few Bloody Mary's do just as well.
You: So you are convinced that this trust arrangement is not a good thing for you.
Lou: My God, Arby, how can you live when your great granduncle or great grandfather, who you don't even remember, limits your finances? I will never agree to accept such a fate. I would rather die trying to undo the trust fund.
But I'll tell you something confidential, if you promise not to tell anyone in the family. Do you promise?
You: Yeah, I promise.
Lou: I've already started to earn more money without letting the trust fund people find out. I've got $50,000 extra in a fictitious bank account name which I earned through an investment.
You: So you can use that in addition to the trust fund money?
Lou: Yes. Normally I would be able to but at this particular time it will be needed to pay the attorneys who are helping me figure out this whole counter plan. Imagine if I didn't have the extra $50,000 how would I be able to pay the attorneys? You've just got to have more money than the trust fund allows. That is all there is to it. If you want Arby, I'll introduce you to my attorneys and they can set up a counter plan for you too.
You: Thanks, Lou...I'll think about and let you know.
Next you pay a visit to your aged grandfather (81 years old) in Wiseton, Florida. You ask him to tell you as much as possible about the person who set up the trust fund namely his father and your great grandfather.
Grandfather: Grandson your great grandfather was a brilliant man. You met him once when you were very young but you probably forgot. He could figure out just about everything.
You: What do you mean?
Grandfather: He would carefully consider precisely what people needed and he would go ahead and arrange to provide that much for them.
You: Yeah, I just found out about a trust fund he set up for me.
Grandfather: He left one for me too and it sure has been helpful.
You: But I kind of feel like great grandfather has tied my hands up and forced me to dance the way he wants me to. Do you know what I mean?
Grandfather: Yes I do. My father did have a propensity for controlling, there's no denying that. But his intentions are good. He wants you to be happy, carefree, and protected. Most of all however, he wants you to be successful in accomplishing what he called the "really important things in life."
You: What are those?
Grandfather: He wants you to find out who you are; where you were before this lifetime, and what happens to you after death. Your great grandfather loved you since when you were young (too young for you to remember him). He wanted that you should not be forced to work like a maniac for a livelihood. He didn't want you to be overwhelmed with passion and greed thrusting you into anxiety and corruption.
My father once told me a story of a bird. It was a mother bird who started to build her nest within a hole in the wall of a pantry. But inside the house, the man and his father didn't want a bird's nest inside their house so they stuffed some crumpled paper inside the hole. When the mother bird came back she pulled and pulled and finally she removed the paper and continued with the nest building. Seeing that the man and his father then stuffed crumpled paper even more tightly into the hole in the wall. When the mother bird saw what had happened, she brought her husband and together they pulled and pulled until the paper came out. Then the man and his father put paper in so tight that the birds could not remove it.
The point of the story was that the birds couldn't understand that a superior force, namely the man and his father, were employing their intelligence and strength to spoil the attempts of the birds. The birds were determined but so were the man and the father. Ultimately the birds were defeated. Your great grandfather said that man is also not independent. There are higher authorities who direct universal affairs.
After these conversations with your cousin Lou and your grandfather you go to the seashore one day and sit down alone facing the ocean. You reflect that grandfather was grateful and satisfied with the trust fund he received although it was less than cousin Lou's fund whereas Lou was ungrateful and full of anxiety about the arrangement. You contemplate about your former plan to study for a degree in stock brokerage and psychology.
What's the use? So much time will be spent doing something meaningless and the result will be that I'll still end up with the amount of money stipulated by the trust fund. Besides that I'll probably start drinking like many of those materialistic people. Why should I work for money that is already coming to me anyway?
Maybe I should consider what great grandfather would like me to do. He wanted me to have time for understanding my spiritual nature. I've always wanted to study those books I bought three years ago written by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. There is so much knowledge there but I was thinking I wouldn't be able to really get into it because I had to go to college so that I could get a job to maintain myself. But now it's clear that my livelihood is set up for my entire life. This is really amazing! Ah, the Nectar of Devotion...ah Srimad Bhagavatam...ah Caitanya Caritamrita. This might be the right time to do that. Those books have more knowledge than the entire university library.
Then maybe I could become a full time devotee like my friend Dave. Dave is happy and Dave is wise and Dave is peaceful. Yeah, that would really be far out. Everybody would laugh at me— but who cares. They're working like dogs just to get some food, shelter, and sex while I'll be dancing down the street without a care. Wow!
But wait a minute. What happens if at some point along the road I decide to get married and have a family? Then what? Dave did tell me about some devotees who were married but just dedicated all their energy to serving Krishna and spreading Krishna consciousness. Like those three couples that went to Rangoon to open the first center there. Dave said he got a letter from one of them who said it was super exciting. He said they even convinced some of the members of the famous band Termites to become devotees and together they made a best-selling record of chanting Hare Krishna.
Be careful though. Flying all over the world, dancing, and chanting may be great when your young and free from obligations but what happens when you have children and you get older? My trust fund is enough to cover a wife and a few children...as long as we don't get greedy and try to keep up with the Joneses who moved to Bel Air. There's even an apartment building across the street from the temple where householder devotees live. I could probably get an apartment there and be able to attend all the temple programs like the devotees who live in the temple. Wouldn't that be beneficial for me and my family?
Well, yes, but I'm not sure the city is the best place to raise children in Krishna consciousness. I wonder if there are any Hare Krishna places in the country. If there are, my family and I could go and live there, get a cow, grow our own food, and worship Krishna in a simple way. Maybe some of the devotee families at the farm community have set up a little school for teaching the children where they wouldn't have to be polluted by all the television and materialistic educational systems. Maybe my son will become a great devotee and when he's eighteen he could go that Hare Krishna college in Kansas City I heard about. Yeah.
I guess I'll just be satisfied with the arrangements that my great grandfather made for me in his trust fund and invest my full energy is serving Krsna.
Just at that moment, a lone Hare Krishna devotee carrying a bag of books walks up to you. The devotee had ventured away from the boardwalk shops and walked through the sand to reach where you are sitting near the sea.
Devotee: Hi, I saw you from a distance and you seemed like you were contemplating something really cosmic so I thought I would bring you this book to look at. It's about the divine plan that is arranged for each of us.
You: Oh, Srimad Bhagavatam, I already have that one, but I'll buy another copy if you will kindly sit with me a few minutes and help me understand a few things.
Devotee: Sure. Let's pick a verse to discuss. Canto 1 chapter 5, text 19.
tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa
"Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavor only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable even by wandering from the topmost planet [Brahmaloka] down to the lowest planet [Patala]. As far as happiness derived from sense enjoyment is concerned, it can be obtained automatically in course of time, just as in course of time we obtain miseries even though we do not desire them."
"Purport. The miseries and mixed happiness of all living beings are only of different degree and quality, but no one is free from the miseries of birth, death, old age and disease. Similarly, everyone has his destined happiness also. No one can get more or less of these things simply by personal endeavors. Even if they are obtained, they can be lost again. One should not, therefore, waste time with these flimsy things; one should only endeavor to go back to Godhead. That should be the mission of everyone's life."
Arby: That's interesting. I was just thinking about this. You see my great grandfather left me a sizeable trust fund to continue for my whole life whereby I receive money every month. So I thought since my maintenance is taken care of, why not devote my full time to serving Krsna.
Devotee: I certainly came to the right person today. Yes. That is a perfect conclusion.
Arby: But for other people who don't have a trust fund like I do, they would have to work quite hard just to meet their living expenses. They wouldn't have so much time for serving as I will. I feel sorry for them.
Devotee: Everyone has a trust fund arranged by the greatest Grand Father, Sri Krishna.
Devotee: In this world all beings are dominated by the law of karma. Karma means action and its corresponding reaction because every action carries a reaction like we learned in elementary physics. The cumulative effect of my past actions, either pious or impious determines the type of body I receive in this life. Beauty, fame, longevity, intelligence, and wealth in this lifetime are determined by previous actions. So each one of us has a preset amount of income, enjoyment, and distress we'll receive.
Arby: But if you work more you get more. Right?... Wait. (pause)
Arby: I just realized that my trust fund is set up so that even if I work and earn lots of money separate from the fund I'll be taxed so that the remainder is exactly the same amount as the trust fund stipulated. So it's not necessarily based on how much you work.
Devotee: That's it exactly. Whether you are a businessman, a professor or a devotee of Krishna you will receive exactly the amount your trust fund has specified for you.
Arby: But how does one know how much money his karmic trust fund will supply for him?
Devotee: Astrology can tell. But these days the astrologers may not be expert. Devotees of Krishna however, are peaceful because they have faith that Krishna will provide everything they require for living and making spiritual advancement.
Arby: Through karma?
Devotee: Krishna is maintaining millions of families of elephants and other species. He'll not neglect to take care of humans who engage in his exclusive service. It is a matter of understanding. Devotees know how the system works. For the common person his trust fund is managed by karma and for the devotee the trust fund is managed by Krishna Himself. Either way it is not under our control.
Arby: Ah. Karmic Trust Fund or Krishna Trust Fund. Nice arrangement so we can concentrate on the "really important things in life." Hare Krishna.
© CHAKRA 29 September 2001
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