“Fear is due to worrying about the future. A person in Krishna consciousness has no fear because by his activities he is sure to go back to the spiritual sky, back home, back to Godhead. Therefore his future is very bright.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.4-5 Purport)
In the emotional sense, guilt is the worry that results from thinking that you have done something wrong. “Oh no, I hope the other person isn’t offended. Oh, I feel so bad about what I did. Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have done that. Maybe it was a bad idea to take that thing from them. They worked so hard for that item, and now they don’t have it anymore. And it’s all my fault.” The Krishna conscious person, who is aware of the presence of the original Personality of Godhead and the need for being devoted to Him, ultimately lives without worry. This is because they know they have chosen the right path in life. In all other paths there is some worry.
This same truth is presented in many places in Vedic literature. Goswami Tulsidas makes the point in one of his poems by saying that only he sleeps well because he has full faith in Shri Rama, who is the same Krishna. Not that all famous divine personalities are God, but in the Vedas we find that the original personality does personally expand many times as He sees fit. The expansions also suit the specific time and circumstance. Rama is the expansion in a particular period of time when a fiendish character named Ravana is terrorizing the world.
As a sweetheart saint, Tulsidas always repeated Rama’s name and distributed His glories to the society around him. In such devotion, there is no cause for guilt. If there should happen to be any worry, it is over whether others will accept the light of transcendence. If they refuse the auspiciousness offered their way due to ill-sourced obstinacy, then they will be forced to suffer. If someone is hungry and you offer them food, you naturally expect them to accept it. If they insult your food and tell you that they’re fine, you know that they’re not thinking straight. The same holds true with the offering of devotional service, which is also known as bhakti-yoga. This devotion is meant for everyone. In fact, it is what every person is inherently seeking after, even those who are apparently religious already. When they kill in the name of religion, when they worry only about wine, women, gambling and meat, or when they think only of how to remove distresses from life, they are not actually in God consciousness.
Bhakti-yoga is God consciousness, so naturally one who practices it should sleep just fine. The king worries over protecting his kingdom. The fruitive worker worries about improving upon what they have and protecting that which they have acquired. The mental speculator worries about soaking up enough knowledge to find enlightenment. They also worry over preventing the rise of anger, greed, lust, and other negative emotions drawn from a false outlook. The mystic worries about finding the ideal conditions to meditate. The renounced ascetic worries about breaking their vows relating to eating, sleeping and sex life.
The devotee doesn’t worry because their only desire is to continue to serve God. If they have nothing at all, not even a shirt on their back, they can still serve. This is because anywhere they chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They can bring to mind the deity of choice, their ishta-deva, and worship Him. They can talk about Him to the walls in the room if no one should happen to be around. In modern times, they can write about Him on their computer and then forward that information to thousands of people within seconds.
Thieves are never at peace precisely because they know that what they are doing is wrong. Picture a group of thieves who robs a bank and then successfully escapes the scene. Though they accomplished their objective, they will still not be at peace afterwards. This is because each one will be worried that the other is going to take the money. After all, if they collectively stole money that innocent people deposited at a bank, what is to stop them from stealing from one another? The old saying, “there is no honor among thieves,” tells the story here.
The thief is the obvious example of the person who does something wrong and then worries, but we can also look to something more common, something apparently innocuous. Think of the office where so many people don’t do any work. For whatever reason, they are able to come and go as they please, without any accountability. The situation at the office is such that the person in charge has the worst work ethic, so naturally everyone follows his lead.
While this situation may seem good to the employees, the result is that the people who do nothing are always suspicious of one another. “Oh, did you see what time they got in today? Then did you see what time they left? Did you hear about what the other person is doing on the side? They are making more money now.” It should also be noted that if such workers are ever asked to do some real work, they will get frustrated very quickly. “Why are they asking me for this? They are so stupid. They’re always annoying me with stuff.”
On the other side of it, the person who actually does show up to work on time and accomplish their assigned tasks remains free of worry. Though they work harder than the others, they don’t have to constantly look over their shoulder, wondering if someone else is doing their work or not. In this honesty, there is less worry.
We can think of bhakti-yoga as the most honest activity because God owns everything. He is the best friend, the original proprietor and the supreme enjoyer. His property should be used for His enjoyment. This is the secret to action and inaction revealed to the bhakta. Arjuna, a famous warrior, used his fighting ability to please the supreme enjoyer. Hanuman used his strength and courage, Lakshmana his dedication, Sita her chastity, Tulsidas his poetic ability, Yashoda her motherly affection, Nanda Maharaja his land and his cows, and Prahlada Maharaja his thoughts. Even the deer in Vrindavana, who lack the advanced abilities of humans, offer their affection. These are just some of the famous examples, but anyone, whether large or small in stature, can find the guilt-free way of living through bhakti-yoga.
For robbers of bank difficult to sleep,
Worry over how stolen money to keep.
After taking by the force of a gun,
Fear that cohorts with money away to run.
Even in religious life there is fear,
To stick to vows and practices so dear.
For the devotee for guilt there is no cause,
For in thinking of Supreme Lord never a pause.
Devotion to Him most honest endeavor,
Cherished is His association forever and ever.