“In the material world everyone is thinking how they will be happy. In the spiritual world, everyone is thinking how Krishna will be happy.” -Jayapataka Swami.
We’re here to find the highest goal, and our bodies are temporary, so why would that goal be to give ourselves happiness? I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to be happy, I’m simply saying the highest happiness is found in giving happiness to others. If we relate this to the gunas, tamasic happiness is finding joy in hurting others, rajasic happiness is finding joy in indulging in sense pleasures, and sattvic happiness is the joy of knowing who you really are and helping others. But happiness beyond the gunas is the happiness that we don’t even seek- it’s what we get when pleasing Krishna. And of course, we are trying to go beyond the gunas.
If these principles can be placed in the material world, why would they not be applied spiritually?
For instance, we know that it is far better for a mother to give up her own peace for the sake of raising her children. We know that she would give food to her child first before she fed herself, and we know that she does this out of love, not out of obligation. This is why the mother-child relationship is always seen as the deepest (material) love connection. This is why we are supposed to learn from cows. They are the mother animal, they are so selfless and yet full of love. If we were supposed to be emotionless and only care for our own inner peace, we should look up to the bear who sleeps most of his life away.
Many people are under the false impression that the goal of spiritual life is to somehow gain knowledge of our inner spiritual essence and therefore realize the oneness of everything which would therefore cause a misconception that we are in fact no less than God Himself. This concept is described many times in the scriptures to be a very limited viewpoint. Although those who hold it can and do reach Brahmajyoti (merging into Brahman), they miss out on the higher goal. Brahmajyoti is achieved even by Krishna’s enemies.
“Sisupala was always in the habit of insulting Krishna-not only in one lifetime, but continuously throughout three lives. Still, Krishna was so kind that He gave Sisupala the salvation of merging into His existence. From this we can understand that the goal of the monist to merge into the effulgence of the Supreme is not a very difficult problem. Persons like Sisupala who are consistently inimical to Krishna can also get this liberation.” (Nectar of Devotion pg.171)
Even King Kamsa- Krishna’s biggest enemy got to merge into His impersonal effulgence. Those who think themselves to be on the same level of God are in a way envious of God and have no humility to admit that there is a being higher than them. This falls into a very low level of happiness. A happiness that leaves little to no room for devotion to God. Devotion to God would be pointless if we are on the same level.
“The impersonalists are enemies of God, because they cannot tolerate the unparalleled opulence of the Lord.” (Nectar of Devotion pg. 121)
Yet still, Krishna is so kind that He gives them the opportunity to enter into His impersonal effulgence.
Many people ask why would an enemy of God get such a reward? And this leads to the main point of this essay- hatred and deep love are rewarded by God because they are emotions that cause the brain to constantly think of Him. In the same way that we would rather have God show us either love or anger rather than have Him ignore us, He would like to see one or the other as well. Krishna does not want a stail, emotionless, lukewarm lover.
This is why many of the demons that were attacked by Krishna were feeling so blessed and wondered what they did to deserve even His angry attention. The wife of the demon Kaliya spoke as follows to Krishna after Krishna had attacked Kaliya.
SB 10.16.34: What You have done here is actually mercy for us, since the punishment You give to the wicked certainly drives away all their contamination. Indeed, because this conditioned soul, our husband, is so sinful that he has assumed the body of a serpent, Your anger toward him is obviously to be understood as Your mercy.
SB 10.16.35: Did our husband carefully perform austerities in a previous life, with his mind free of pride and full of respect for others? Is that why You are pleased with him? Or did he in some previous existence carefully execute religious duties with compassion for all living beings, and is that why You, the life of all living beings, are now satisfied with Him?
So even the anger of Krishna is seen to be His mercy. Whereas those who are impartial towards Krishna are very unfortunate. They feel nothing for Him at all. They are lukewarm. As the popular saying goes “it is better to feel pain than nothing at all,” it also applies spiritually. If God came to you and told you He was not happy with you, you would wonder what you did to deserve that level of attention from Him. Or if God is extremely pleased with His devotee and reveals a part of Himself, or increases the love of the devotee, that is also a blessing.
If one is envious of God, he is constantly thinking himself to be one and the same with God. This was true for Kamsa, he wanted to be as powerful as Krishna. If someone has selfless love for God, he is constantly thinking of how he can please God and God’s creation. Of course we know selflessness is better than envy, so of course these two would not get the same result. Which from that we can conclude that if Krishna’s enemies get to merge into the impersonal brahmajyoti- what is higher than that that is achieved by lovers of Him? And even though the answer is simple, an eternity of God’s personal abode, even that is not desired by a true devotee.
A true devotee does not care for any kind of liberation because this world is just as good as any other. We have every opportunity to serve Krishna here, and if that is our only goal, then we are happy with that. Therefore, there is no leading motivation except for the Lords pleasure. We aren’t pleasing Him to get into His abode, or to merge into Him, or to become Him. We are serving because we truly want to make Him happy, and as long as He is happy, we are happy. THAT is spiritual maturity. Complete surrender.
It’s not about how much you can chant in a day, how long you can meditate, or how much inner peace you have. It’s not about how much spiritual knowledge you have, how many debates you can win, or even, shockingly, how much you can outwardly express your love to God. We can never expect to be perfect in the beginning. We can’t expect to have complete selfless love in the beginning of our journey. That only comes from Krishna’s grace, and the only way we can get that grace is by patience and surrender. If we’re telling God that we need to work on ourselves before we come to Him… that’s like saying you’re too sick to goto the hospital. There is no such thing as gaining true joy separate from God. He wants to help us, that is why surrender is the most important step. If you had a disease, all the learning about it, all the attempts to cure it on your own wouldn’t do any good. The only thing that would help is trusting a doctor who knows more to cure you. In the same way, all the spiritual knowledge, all the meditation and inner peace practices will amount to nothing unless you trust that God who is higher than you, is the only one who can deliver you and bring you true joy.
Surrender means no expectations, just pure trust. That’s a big problem for people today. Faith alone is hard let alone blind faith. Trusting in a higher power who knows what He is doing and what He is talking about is not easy. But that is where selflessness takes a part. If we give up the false notion that we are God, if we give up the idea that we have the power to save ourselves, if we give up the illusion that our knowledge is somehow higher than God’s, then we have become selfless and can therefore surrender.
But then in order to be selfless requires love. Why would we give up this notion that God is higher than us if we don’t even love God? If we don’t trust in His knowledge and perfection, we wouldn’t really love Him. If we believe we are one in the same, what is the use of holding Him higher and therefore loving Him? If we are God and pride is bad, we can’t love ourselves with the highest amount of love we are meant to love God with. And of course if we are God, the idea of God loving us is completely out of the question, and if we don’t believe God loves us then that makes loving and trusting Him even harder. So of course that leaves the question; how do you love God so much that you become selfless and therefore are able to surrender?
Now my answer for that is simple, the truth of the matter is, God is who He is whether you believe it or not. God is higher than you whether you believe it or not. God is smarter than you whether you believe it or not. God is so much more than you could ever possibly imagine whether you believe it or not. God is so mysteriously amazing that if we spent every single one of our thousands of lives meditating on Him, we couldn’t even come close to all of who He is, and yet He is so kind that He makes Himself available through love. Only through love is He conquered.
“My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding.”(B.G. 11:54)
He has given us a guidebook. He has given us His pastimes. He has given us His names. He has given us life. He has given us thousands of chances to know Him, and yet we still find it difficult to even love Him…
He has known us from our first life and will know us up until our last. He will know us in Eternity, and will keep knowledge of the past. He is the cause of every breath we take, and everything we adore. He is the seed in which everything grows and all life is born. He is the sight we see, the love we feel and the reason that we pray. He is the driving force within us leaving room for us to turn away. This love is free will, it is completely up to you… He can’t make you love Him, but isn’t it the least you could do?
Once one has become spiritual mature, which requires only surrender, one no longer hankers for joy because they know it doesn’t exist apart from Krishna. They no longer search for inner peace because they know Krishna is their peace. They no longer look to please themselves, because Krishna’s pleasure is all that matters. They no longer see themselves as the same as God because they know how great He is. They no longer desire any kind of liberation because their idea of a reward is being able to serve God all the time. Krishna’s joy becomes their joy. Krishna’s love becomes their love. They become one with Him in a sense that they are nothing without Him.
“My dear Lord, if after taking liberation I have no chance of hearing the glories of Your Lordship, glories chanted by pure devotees from the core of their hearts in praise of Your lotus feet, and if I have no chance for this honey of transcendental bliss, then I shall never ask for liberation or this so-called spiritual emancipation. I shall simply always pray unto Your Lordship that You may give me millions of tongues and millions of ears, so that I can constantly chant and hear Your transcendental glories.” (Maharaja Prthu, S.B. 4.20.24)
“My dear Sati, persons who are devoted to Narayana are not afraid of anything. If they are elevated to the higher planetary systems, or if they get liberation from material contamination, or if they are pushed down to the hellish condition of life- or, in fact, any situation whatever- they are not afraid of anything. Simply because they have taken shelter of the lotus feet of Narayana, for them any position in the material world is as good as another.” (Lord Shiva, S.B. 6.7.28)
“My dear Uddhava, the devotees who have completely taken shelter of My service are so steadfast in devotional service that they have no other desire. Even if they are offered the four kinds of spiritual opulences, they will refuse to accept them. So what to speak of their desiring anything within the material world!” (S.B. 11.20.34)