Reprinted from the ISKCON Berkeley Congregation
Wake up, sleeping souls! How long will you sleep on the lap of the witch called maya?
Every morning the Lord wakes up long before sunrise and meditates on Himself, along with His Divine Consort. The Deities then enjoy entertainment of songs and refreshments, flowers, incense, bath, fresh clothes, and the devotion of Their servants. Because we are Their parts and parcels, we also enjoy transcendental bliss by rising to participate in mangalarathi…. After all, Lord Krsna takes the trouble to rise in the small hours of the day, so why don’t we practice the same austerity on His behalf?
Spiritual life means control of the senses. We might think that when we sleep nothing is happening, but actually we are being carried away by the mode of ignorance. Old Lao-Tsu said: "A wise man guards his senses, and enjoys a full life. " Wasting precious brahma-muhurta time in sleep is like letting water run through our fingers - we find ourselves with nothing. A warm bed at 4:30 am is a cold grave for the soul. Opportunity lost is bitter; in our next life, who knows if we will get the darsana of the Deities in Their pajamas?
It is as if our individual universes are created again each morning, or a new life begins. Everyone knows the old saying, "Tomorrow is another day. " This means that whatever we do or fail to do today, we have a chance to rectify things when we rise again. Why rise late? Srila Prabhupada emphasized attending the morning program to take advantage of the spiritual atmosphere of Krsna’s causeless mercy. When we get up in the dark to bathe, apply tilak, dress like Vaisnavas and go before the Lord, we actually realize that we are not the body, we are spirit soul.
On the other hand, by sleeping late we nourish only material desires and the bodily concept of life, by which we think in terms of "I", "me" and "mine". Our rounds suffer and we do not make very much advancement.
We should be afraid of maya! By sleeping through the brahma-muhurta we can be taken advantage of by demonic spirits and gradually lose our attachment to Krsna consciousness. But if we rise early like dutiful disciples to chant the Holy Names of the Lord, the foul ghosts of mundane desires will flee like scalded hounds.
Of course, there may be a medical or some other practical reason for not attending the morning program, but we should honestly search our souls if there is any doubt. And we can have a morning program at home if that is more apropos. The point is that rising early is not optional; it is the spiritual foundation of our entire day. Especially temple devotees are obligated to report before Their Lord punctually, and in good cheer. This is the standard given by Srila Prabhupada for temple life.
Let us dust off our determination to rise on time; let us be strong and brave. It won’t kill us to get up in the morning (but if it did, what a way to go!) When we become fixed in our regulation, spontaneous love will follow. Without love, we are nothing. Out of love, Srila Prabhupada sacrificed so much just to save us from ignorance and death. We must reciprocate by sacrificing the ignorance of sleep in the blazing fire of mangalarati…, and make investments in eternity.
...Tomorrow is another day.