Long life in itself has no value. A tree lives for hundreds and hundreds of years, but there is no point in living a long time like trees, or breathing like bellows, or begetting children like hogs and dogs, or eating like camels
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Factually, no one has to do anything more than render devotional service to the Lord. However, in the lower stages of life one cannot immediately adopt the activities of devotional service, nor can one completely stop fruitive work. A conditioned soul is accustomed to working for sense gratification—for his own selfish interest, immediate or extended. An ordinary man works for his own sense enjoyment, and when this principle of sense enjoyment is extended to include his society, nation or humanity in general, it assumes various attractive names such as altruism, socialism, communism, nationalism and humanitarianism. These "isms" are certainly very attractive forms of karma-bandhana (karmic bondage), but the Vedic instruction of Śrī Īśopaniṣad is that if one actually wants to live for any of the above "isms," he should make them God-centered. There is no harm in becoming a family man, or an altruist, a socialist, a communist, a nationalist or a humanitarian, provided that one executes his activities in relation with īśāvāsya, the God-centered conception.
In the Bhagavad-gītā (2.40) Lord Kṛṣṇa states that God-centered activities are so valuable that just a few of them can save a person from the greatest danger. The greatest danger of life is the danger of gliding down again into the evolutionary cycle of birth and death among the 8,400,000 species. If somehow or other a man misses the spiritual opportunity afforded by his human form of life and falls down again into the evolutionary cycle, he must be considered most unfortunate. Due to his defective senses, a foolish man cannot see that this is happening. Consequently Śrī Īśopaniṣad advises us to exert our energy in the spirit of īśāvāsya. Being so engaged, we may wish to live for many, many years; otherwise a long life in itself has no value. A tree lives for hundreds and hundreds of years, but there is no point in living a long time like trees, or breathing like bellows, or begetting children like hogs and dogs, or eating like camels. A humble God-centered life is more valuable than a colossal hoax of a life dedicated to godless altruism or socialism.
When altruistic activities are executed in the spirit of Śrī Īśopaniṣad, they become a form of karma-yoga. Such activities are recommended in the Bhagavad-gītā (18.5-9), for they guarantee their executor protection from the danger of sliding down into the evolutionary process of birth and death. Even though such God-centered activities may be half-finished, they are still good for the executor because they will guarantee him a human form in his next birth. In this way one can have another chance to improve his position on the path of liberation.
How one can execute God-centered activities is elaborately explained in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. We have rendered this book into English as The Nectar of Devotion. We recommend this valuable book to all who are interested in performing their activities in the spirit of Śrī Īśopaniṣad.