This topic came from a verse and 2 of Prabhupada's purports in the Shrimad Bhagavatam 3rd Canto, chapter 27, texts 15 and 16.
"The living entity can vividly feel his existence as the seer, but because of the disappearance of the ego during the state of deep sleep, he falsely takes himself to be lost, like a man who has lost his fortune and feels distressed, thinking of himself to be lost."
This year the store is not doing all that well---at least compared to last year at Christmas. So that requires some adjustment for the owners. Kindred Spirits is a service to the local community which includes seekers, yet it is also a business through which devotees earn a living and give to the BBT book fund. Success in business requires a sort of sixth sense to know what people want, a pleasant personality, and of course the karmic tendency to run a business and attract "laxmi" or money.
I am working at some dear devotee friends New Age store [one of whom blogs here---Dulal Chandra], learning the ropes so they can travel to the holy Dhamas in India next month. I haven't been able to come here much since I get home late and sometimes still have phone counseling sessions to do with my wife. I see that there has been plenty of action in the last week, with nice blogs by Navasi, Rasa, Gopi, and Nityananda Chandra, which are attracting a good audience. I know our readers on Connect are in good hands, being nourished with thoughtful and Krishna conscious blogs with discussions.
"So it is obvious that enthusiasm is the life of devotional service. We become enthusiastic to serve Krishna in association of devotees who are. As Prabhupada said Bhakti is a cultivation through practice."
In his Upadesh-amrita, text 3 Shrila Rupa Goswami has listed 6 principles that are favorable for pure devotional service. They are 1) being enthusiastic, 2) endeavoring with confidence, 3) being patient, 4) acting according to regulative principles [hearing, chanting and remembering about Krishna, etc], 5) abandoning the association of non-devotees, and 6) following in the footsteps of the previous acharyas. He says that following these principles will assure one of success. That sounds very good to me. They must be essential for those on the path or aspiring to be on the path of bhakti. For this blog I am focusing on enthusiasm.
This could be a trick question if you look at it from a certain perspective. However, this is not a math question. In math zero is important in relation to numbers having value as a placeholder, and in other ways. There would be no computers as we know them without zero etc. Anyway I never liked math, which says something about me I suppose. One thing it says is I am not good at finances, but that is of no importance for this discussion.
My question is in regard to the goal of religious or philosophical paths. Some interpretations of the Vedas arrive at a conclusion of no eternal individual soul, but one supreme formless energy that temporarily manifests as individuals. Another popular conception posits that there is reincarnation, and suffering, yet ultimately all there is, is matter, and liberation or nirvana really amounts to.....well nothing---to be straight.
I changed the title of the blog from "Relationships are the key to success, spiritually or materially", because I didn't say what I originally intended. That happens often when I write. Certainly who we "associate" with is a person we have a relationship with. Yet in this blog I have focused on the general principle of the importance of the company we keep. In another blog I will focus more on HOW we relate to each other.
It is said that, "A person is known by the company they keep". That is true in any sphere, and certainly our spiritual life can sink or swim by the company we keep---or we could say with what we imbibe from our company. Associating with others really means taking up their habits and adopting their mentality. The heart is like a crystal that reflects whatever color it comes into contact with.