My heartiest congratulations to you for securing admission to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the top schools in the U.S.A. It is an achievement worthy of praise.
Today you stand at the crossroads in your life. The decisions you make now will yield fruits for the rest of your life. A wrong decision may produce a bitter fruit, and a correct one will yield the sweetest of fruits. So you should take everyone's advice but make your own decision.
You will have to choose between doing the right things and doing the wrong things. You will have many friends tempting you with the so-called pleasures of girls, drugs, and alcohol. There will hardly be a friend who will tell you to avoid them. Friends are as temporary as a cloud. As you evolve from school to college, you will shed old friends and gain new ones. And when you start working, there will be another change of friends. Thus you will continuously change friends and find that all relationships are temporary.
But there is one friend Krishna who resides in your heart and whose friendship is never lost, not even in your next life. In His form as the Supersoul He is your most intimate and dear friend. He never leaves your side; He accompanies you at all times as you, the eternal soul, move from one material body to another in this ever revolving wheel of samsara, the cycle of birth and death. He is continuously telling you what is right and what is wrong. As your eternal friend, He encourages you to do the right thing and cautions you against taking a wrong step. But beware! He will not stop you from wrongdoing. He will only alert you.
Often, you might take a wrong step, not being able to distinguish between the voice of the Supersoul and the urgings of your own mind. Taking the wrong steps will bring physical, mental, and emotional stresses, for these wrong steps are the seeds of pain and sorrow. Pain and sorrow are the direct result of forgetting Krishna, who resides in your heart. And when the reactions arrive, you wonder, "Why me?"
To help you remember Krishna more often, and to mitigate problems in life, our Vedic scriptures operating manuals of life suggest that we mold our life in such a way as to keep Krishna in the center. Here's a practical way to begin:
Chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra a set number of times on beads every day
Offer vegetarian food to Krishna before eating
Attend the Sunday feast at the ISKCON temple near you
Read every day at least a page or two of one of Srila Prabhupada's books, such as Bhagavad-gita As It Is
In four to six months your friends will see changes in your behavior and attitude and will be pleasantly surprised. Little miracles will come your way, and people will say, "You are lucky." Because the practice of Krishna consciousness is a science, the results are certain. But as with any scientific technique, you have to observe some regulations.
So, look ahead. Work hard. Have fun. But please do not forget Krishna at any cost. He is your only true, eternal friend.
Caitanya Vallabha Dasa (Shri Chandrakant Bellare) became an ISKCON Life Member in 1978 and received initiation from His Holiness Radhanatha Swami in 1996. After a career in the computer industry, he now dedicates his full time to serving within ISKCON.