Iceland’s minister of finance may soon face a hard decision—his country or his dog.
In Reykjavik, the capital, a 62-year-old law bans dogs from the city on health grounds. Yet the minister, Mr. Albert Gudmundsson, lives in Reykjavik with a dog (the family pet), a 13-year-old mongrel named Lucy.
“Lucy is a dear member of our family, as dear to us as a child,” he said.
This family has now been unsettled by a journalist at the state radio, who has reported Lucy’s illegal presence to the police. If prosecuted, Mr. Gudmundsson may be fined, and his pet may be taken away.
But Mr. Gudmundsson, who placed third in Iceland’s presidential election four years ago, has pledged to do everything to keep her.
“We will never agree to part with her,” he said. “Rather, we will emigrate from Iceland, and I would thereby resign from politics.”
Politics aside, we’d be sorry to see Mr. Gudmundsson have to give up either his country or his dog.
Unfortunately, he’ll have to give up both.
As spiritual souls, all living beings—including both dog and master—are eternal parts of Krishna, the Supreme. But because we’ve forgotten our relationship with Krishna, we’ve come to this material world, a world of birth and death. Here we devote ourselves to our country, our family, our dog—whatever. We bark a while or we speak in the state house, we run after bones or run for office. But time finally runs off with everything we have—bark, bones, body, and all.
At the time of death, we give up our country, give up our dog, give up our politics—give up everything—and the laws of nature take us to a new body. The dog may then assume the body of a future politician, and the former politician the body of a dog.
Such a change takes place because of love. According to the Bhagavad-gita, our thoughts at the time of death are what carries us on to the next body. So the faithful dog that dies thinking of its master may next be born human, and the master who dies thinking of his beloved dog may soon find himself on the dog’s end of the leash.
The human life, therefore, is meant not for devotion to dog or country but for devotion to spiritual inquiry and understanding, and ultimately for devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna.
Neglecting the Supreme, we may try to settle happily with our family and live a useful, productive life. But what is the point of clinging to a world where we can’t stay, and to loved ones we can’t live on with? Of what use is a life lived without spiritual inquiry? What will it produce? And what is the value of living happily at home as a fool?
One who lives for that which perishes lives for nothing. The Vedic teachings therefore point us beyond the perishable material world—beyond dog, family, politics, and Iceland—to our real home, our real family, our real life, in the transcendental world of Lord Krishna.