My Guru Maharaja used to say that if we ask from God for some material benefit, it means that I am asking from a king a pinch of ashes

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Expressions researched:
"If we ask from God for some material benefit, it means that I am asking from a king a pinch of ashes"

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

People generally pray for material benefits: "O God, give us our daily bread. Give me nice position. Give me nice wife, nice following or this or victory," so on, so on, so on, simply for material enjoyment. My Guru Mahārāja used to say that if we pray to God for all these nonsense things, it is just like a man goes to a king and the king says, "Whatever you want you can ask from me," and if the man says, "Kindly give me a pinch of ashes." It is like that. If we ask from God for some material benefit, it means that I am asking from a king a pinch of ashes.
Lecture on BG 2.14 -- London, August 20, 1973:

Therefore the problem is how to get out of this bodily entanglement. I am spirit soul. Somehow or other, I have fallen in this entanglement of bodily transformation. There, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says, anādi karama-phale, pori' bhavārṇava-jale, toribāre nā dekhi upāy: "Somehow or other I have fallen in this ocean of birth and death. I do not know how to get out of it." Just like if you are thrown into the ocean, however expert swimmer you may be, that is not your comfortable life. You have to swim all along, otherwise immediately drown. Similarly, as soon as you get yourself in this material world, you have to struggle for existence. You have to. If you want to stop this struggle for existence, then you must get out of this material existence. That is the problem of life. Anādi karama-phale, pori' bhavārṇava-jale, toribāre nā dekhi upāy. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu teaches us, ayi nanda-tanuja patitaṁ kiṅkaraṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau: "My dear Lord, Nanda-tanuja, son of Nanda Mahārāja, Kṛṣṇa, I am Your eternal servant. Somehow or other, I am now fallen in this material ocean." Ayi nanda-tanuja patitaṁ kiṅkaraṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau. Viṣame: "Very ferocious danger, ocean of this material existence, I am fallen. Although I am Your servant, some way or other, I have forgot. I have fallen down." Then ayi nanda-tanuja patitaṁ kiṅkaraṁ māṁ viṣame bhava, kṛpayā: "Now I am seeking Your mercy." Kṛpayā tava pāda-paṅkaja-sthita-dhūlī-sadṛśaṁ vicintaya: "Now take me again. Pick me, and make me the one particle of dust of Your lotus feet." This should be our prayer, no other prayer. No other prayer. Caitanya Mahāprabhu does not teach any other. Na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīṁ kavitāṁ vā jagad-īśa kāmaye (Cc. Antya 20.29, Śikṣāṣṭaka 4). People generally pray for material benefits: "O God, give us our daily bread. Give me nice position. Give me nice wife, nice following or this or victory," so on, so on, so on, simply for material enjoyment. My Guru Mahārāja used to say that if we pray to God for all these nonsense things, it is just like a man goes to a king and the king says, "Whatever you want you can ask from me," and if the man says, "Kindly give me a pinch of ashes." It is like that. If we ask from God for some material benefit, it means that I am asking from a king a pinch of ashes. When king says that "You ask whatever you want," he can say, "So give me half the kingdom." That should be the prayer. And why a pinch of ash? Similarly, it is our foolishness. When we ask for bread, "O God, give us our daily bread," that means I am asking. The bread is already there. Why for you? For everyone, for all living entities, the bread is already there given by God. Eko yo bahūnāṁ vidadhāti kāmān. The elephant is not going to the church for praying, "Give me food." He is supplied in the jungle food. A tiger is supplied food. Even ant is supplied food within the hole. Who is going to supply food there? How they are eating? How they are living? How they are begetting children? The same thing is there. Āhāra-nidrā-bhaya-maithuna—everything is there in the ant, in the elephant. Who is supplying their necessities? So this is not the problem, these rascals. They are simply perplexed with this problem, how to eat, how to sleep, how to defend. This is already fixed up according to your karma. You simply try—save your time—how to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is your own business. Otherwise you are spoiled. And so far these things are concerned, that how to eat, how to sleep, how to have sex life, and how to defend, this is already arranged. You cannot make betterment in this way. That is already fixed up. Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ (BG 3.27). According to your lot, according to your karma, you have been fixed up that "You shall eat like this, you shall sleep like this, you'll have sex life like this, and you will be able to defend like this, not more than that." That is not possible. That is called destiny. So by destiny this is already fixed up. Don't spoil your life for these things.