“The mahatmas (great souls) receive transcendental messages from the realized devotees and thus gradually develop devotional service in Krishna consciousness and become so absorbed in transcendental service that they no longer desire elevation to any of the material planets, nor do they even want to be transferred to any spiritual planet.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 8.15 Purport)
“Elect me and I will make things better. I will do everything better. I will do everything smarter. What we’ve had the past four years hasn’t been good. Look at all the turmoil. Look at all the strife. Look at all the despair. We can’t continue down this road. How many of you are happy today? If you’re not, then you should give change a chance. Elect me, and things will most certainly be better in the future.”
Four years later…
“Things are still tough, but we’re making progress. It was a big mess when I assumed office, and I know right now the economic indicators seem to show that things are worse today than on the day I took office, but know that we’ve made a lot of progress. We just need more time. We’re going to get things right. Things will be better in the future. The oceans will stop to rise. Poverty will be gone. People will have good jobs. People will be able to afford the necessities of life. Just give it some time.”
Four years later…
“Just see all the promises the previous politician made. They didn’t come true, did they? They were lying to you the whole time. Their friends and donors made out well, but the rest of the citizens did not. They kept promising you a better future, but none of it panned out. Now we need a change. Elect me and I will solve all the problems. We will do things the right way. No more will we have to settle for mediocrity. We can soar to new heights.”
The winds of change sweep in, as each politician promises to make a better life for everyone. “Everything is to come in the future, whereas right now you must suffer in misery.” Even in supposedly religious circles, the promise for hope pertains to the afterlife. “Accept such and such as the Lord, and you will be saved. You will not have to suffer eternal damnation. You won’t have to constantly burn in the fire that is hell. Save yourself today for a better tomorrow.”
One discipline does promise a better today. It does require changes to behavior and a specific authority figure acknowledged as the leader, but one doesn’t have to wait until many years after to see the returns. The better life comes today, and since the conditions for that improvement can be replicated day after day, it means that a better tomorrow is automatically in store.
This discipline is bhakti-yoga. When it is explained, it is the scientific basis for worship of the higher power. Instead of blindly following this leader or that religious path, in bhakti-yoga one learns who they are while simultaneously getting a slight understanding of the higher power. If we’re in trouble we may pray to the Lord. “O God, how did I get in this mess? Help me out of this one, please.” If He comes through then our faith increases, but what if He doesn’t? Does not the person next to me deserve success in their ventures? Should they not be helped out of a jam? Especially in a realm where there is competition, there is no proper way for a higher power to reconcile the different desires and keep everyone happy.
In bhakti-yoga we learn that indeed the higher power has no direct interest in such affairs. The world we live in is considered miserable and temporary, duhkhalayam ashashvatam. The root cause of the misery is the separation from the Supreme Lord in His direct interest. He is the only all-attractive being, and so when He is not in the picture, defects arise. There are other attractive objects, but they are flawed to some degree. The beautiful woman is seen as the source of enjoyment one moment and the source of pain and suffering the next. The pizza pie fresh out of the oven satisfies the taste buds immediately and then causes indigestion later on. The victory in competition is glorious for the praise and attention it brings today, but it is then an albatross of pressure and expectation the next time around.
In bhakti-yoga we learn that each of us is inherently linked to the higher power. We are not so much linked to the temporary achievements, successes, victories, defeats, and heartaches of this miserable world. We are not even related to the body, which we mistakenly identify with from the time of birth. Since we make all these mistakes, we are constantly in illusion, which is known as maya in Sanskrit. God is truth, or reality. He is the opposite of maya.
Without rekindling the eternal relationship with God as a person, the only option is to hope for a better future. Think about it. If I achieve a temporary gain today and I’m still left wanting, what is another temporary gain in the future going to do for me? And mind you, this only addresses the successful. What about those who are currently unsuccessful? They will constantly long for success, which then puts them in the previously mentioned category, which is always in misery.
In bhakti-yoga one connects with the real God today. Not a God who is an old man looking to punish others. Not a God who demands worship of Him. Not a God who only helps one group of people to the exclusion of others. This connection is with the all-attractive God, who is always loving. He is so loving that He stays with the individual wherever they go. He is the safety net, but only for those who wish to use it. He is the best friend of every living entity, the original proprietor and the supreme enjoyer.
Just describing Him in this way makes one so happy; provided they are not envious of Him. Enviousness of Him persists in a land that is separated from His interests. In the higher power’s permanent and original home there is no such envy. Every day one remains in His company, and since that association is guaranteed the next day, the future is always bright; a better today leading to a better tomorrow.
A better today starts with the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” It continues with hearing about the higher power from the Vedic texts, the oldest works in history. The original works are in the Sanskrit language, which is the oldest language in existence. Oldest in this case does mean best, as the language is meant exclusively for describing and glorifying God. Describing in this way is known as kirtana, which always takes place when chanting the holy names.
It is the soul’s dharma, or essential characteristic, to have a better today. The desire to serve exists in everyone, and God is the ideal match for that service. Since the spiritual master, or guru, teaches one how to properly chant, hear, read and worship, service to Him is a way to further extend the greatness of the day. Best of all, since these activities are spiritual, they are the opposite in nature of matter. Instead of temporary and miserable, they are permanent and blissful. They can be repeated day after day, lifetime after lifetime, thus leading to the brightest future. It all starts with a better today, which is provided by the all-attractive Shri Krishna.
Politician better tomorrow to give,
No more in hopeless to live.
Then when the tomorrow does come,
Happiness still there is none.
Better today when finding God that is real,
Chant His names for His presence to feel.
Then same practice daily repeat,
For pleasure in future also to meet.