“Such jugglers and magicians of the mundane world are actually puzzled by the jugglery of the Lord in His transcendental activities, but they try to adjust their bewilderment by saying that it is all mythology. There is, however, nothing impossible or mythological in the Supreme Omnipotent Person. The most wonderful puzzle for the mundane wranglers is that while they remain calculating the length and breadth of the unlimited potency of the Supreme Person, His faithful devotees are set free from the bondage of material encagement simply by appreciating the wonderful jugglery of the Supreme in the practical field.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.6.39 Purport)
You send a smile the way of someone else and there’s no telling what it can get you. The smile indicates that you are friendly; it is an integral part of any charm offensive. But caveat emptor: the buyer should beware of the charm, for if the intentions aren’t noble, the person can lead you to places you didn’t think you would go. As in the material land there is always darkness in the form of ignorance, it is difficult to tell which spiritual paths are legitimate and which aren’t. It is difficult to know for sure whether there is even a God, as so many daily calamities make us think that He either must not exist or that He’s too mean to deserve worship. The people in the know, however, aren’t fooled by the cheating religions and their leaders. The wise know of the Supreme Lord’s amazing abilities, and so they always think of them.
Picture this scenario: a mystic comes to town. He proclaims that he is an expert at yoga and that he can teach it to you. From this practice you will be free of all disease. The circulation in your body will be right, and therefore you will always be healthy. This yoga is difficult to practice, but if you give it enough time, you’ll see the health benefits. Sure, there is a fee, but what in life is free? You already pay for gym memberships and expensive diets, so why not give this yoga a try and see what happens?
This seems well and good, but in following this path suddenly your material desires increase. You are more vulnerable to unrestricted sex life, which is the greatest sign of ignorance. Why is this the case? Well, for starters, the animals follow sex life without discrimination. There is no concept of “having feelings” for this creature or that. The feelings in the animal are all based on instinct. After the urges are satisfied, there is no concern given to welfare, relationships, fidelity and other such things found in human society.
By speaking about yoga one automatically makes reference to the Vedas. Yoga is found in those ancient scriptures of India, and as a Sanskrit word its root meaning is “addition.” It is the addition of two souls, a union if you will. Therefore real yoga is a spiritual activity. Health benefits are a pleasant side effect, but they are not the main concern. Moreover, in real yoga sex life is either entirely eliminated or severely restricted. This is because spiritual life means seeing the spirit soul within everyone. Material life means seeing the outer covering only. Illicit sexual affairs are based on the latter mentality, and so one who is so engrossed in such a mentality is not in yoga, regardless of what exercise regimen they follow or which teacher they listen to.
“One should hold one’s body, neck and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose. Thus with an unagitated, subdued mind, devoid of fear, completely free from sex life, one should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.13-14)
Following the yoga teacher who focuses only on physical exercises which unintentionally lead to increased sex desires is one way to be degraded, but there are more egregious examples of being led down the wrong path. Some leaders will proclaim that they are God. They will show some magic with their mysticism and then woo in unsuspecting spectators. “If this person can generate fire from his mouth, then he must be something special. If he can read my mind, he can’t be ordinary. If he can tell me who I was in a previous life, then he must be tapped into a higher stream of consciousness.”
This path is more dangerous because the charm of the leader in this case will drag the innocent people to a hellish life. It is hellish because the viable potency of the living spirit is spent in service to a great offender. The greatest offender is one who denies the existence of the real God while falsely posing as Him. The other aspect to the hellish life is that there is tremendous pain from following a hoax. If you give life and soul over to such a bogus path, you will be left with nothing while thinking that you were getting everything.
The yogi who can show off some magic gets appreciation, but where did he come from? Where did the yogi get the ability? At some point he had to acquire it. Moreover, can he create an entire universe filled with an inestimable number of creatures? Can he sustain those creatures by producing water, earth, fire, air and ether? Can he grant his personal presence through the sound vibration of his name alone? Can he deliver others from danger so that they continue in their devotion?
The cheating yogi cannot, but the Supreme Lord can indeed do all of these things. He has done them already, so there is no reason to doubt. His wonderful jugglery in the material sphere is well documented in the Vedas. The cheaters take these accounts to be mere mythology, but then there is actually nothing more false than the promise that through forgetting God one can find happiness. The devotees know that these accounts are not mythology, that they are indeed real.
The Supreme Lord has the potency to lift up a mountain with His tiny finger and hold it up for seven consecutive days without breaking a sweat. He can elongate the sari of a distressed princess when she has no other recourse to save her. That sari can become seemingly infinite in length. He can save a helpless child from the attack of deadly weapons. He does all of this not to prove His position. He does all of this not to earn cheap adoration. He does this to protect the devotional life of those who depend on Him for everything. He does all of this because of the sincerity in the devotees.
Of all His amazing talents, His ability to grant His presence through just the sound of His name is likely His greatest. This is something the inimical will never understand. They can barely extend their own presence through the use of modern technology, but even then their presence doesn’t mean so much. They can speak and provide tips on how to survive the present journey through the difficult material existence, but they can do nothing to stop those miseries forever. They can do nothing to ignite the transcendental spark of service that is meant to burn eternally within everyone.
Just through chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, the Supreme Lord gives His presence. From that sound the devotee feels enlivened to continue in service. The chanting itself is a means of service, which is known as bhakti-yoga, or the yoga of love and devotion to the Supreme. This yoga is the most sublime activity, and in addition to providing bliss it brings the protection of the greatest protector. He ensures that the yoga can be practiced at any time. His protection and His ability to arrive on the scene through the sound of His name are both well-documented in the Vedas. Those who understand these works through the genuine charm and guidance of the spiritual master become free from the worries caused by the ignorance found in the material world, for that ignorance is quickly dissipated by the light of transcendence.
When charlatan yogi to meet,
Others easy for them to cheat.
From making fire or reading mind show,
That simply magic others will not know.
With real ability one the entire world can feed,
And provide to dependents all of their needs.
These in the Supreme Lord are found,
Can give His presence through just a sound.
To have that presence is key,
For then God you’ll always see.