“One can very easily associate with Krishna simply by remembering His transcendental pastimes. Everyone has a tendency to love someone. That Krishna should be the object of love is the central point of Krishna consciousness. By constantly chanting the Hare Krishna mantra and remembering the transcendental pastimes of Krishna, one can be fully in Krishna consciousness and thus make his life sublime and fruitful.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 34)
“Work hard all week and then on the weekend party so that you won’t remember anything.” Sound familiar? Such is the pattern when godlessness runs rampant. Indeed, without knowing about the Supreme Lord, His forms, names, features and pastimes, too much intelligence becomes a hindrance. Rather than make one superior, enlightenment only causes more sadness, depression over the lot in life. When knowing God, however, the condition turns around immediately.
What causes the sadness?
Consider all of the “why” questions when there is no understanding of God:
“Why can’t I get the association of my friend or family member back? Money is work. And since no amount of money can bring back the dearly departed, it means that no amount of work will allow me to always get what I want.”
“Why can’t I get that person to love me? What have I done wrong? Am I a bad person? Am I not attractive? It breaks my heart that they are with someone else right now. They should be with me. Life is not fair.”
“Why must we all die? Why do tragedies occur? This isn’t right. You work hard your whole life, play by the rules, and then something horrible happens to you. In fact, everyone dies. All that we work hard for eventually vanishes. Nothing remains forever. This thing that we call life is a sick and twisted game. It looks like it’s fun, but in fact it is not. It is destined for destruction. It’s like we’re all passengers on this giant Titanic-like ship. We’re all going to get thrown overboard eventually, but not necessarily at the same time. People are enjoying as if nothing is going to happen, but something will. I don’t understand all of this.”
Facing such frustration, what choice is there but to forget? Why stay wise to everything when forgetfulness helps to alleviate the pain for a little bit? Hence the popularity of intoxication in a godless consciousness. Instead of visiting the house of worship, the local nightclub or bar is the place to frequent. Instead of researching further into the meaning of life, instead of discussing topics to increase one’s intelligence, the choice is to forget. It is preferable to remain stupid, for this will alleviate some of the misery.
Indeed, without a true understanding of God, the human birth is far inferior to the animal birth. The animal also eats, sleeps, mates and defends. The animal does not know shame. It does not care what others think of it. There is no work that is beneath the animal. It will do whatever it takes to survive. It enjoys sex without discrimination. No need to worry about a long-term commitment. Marriage is out of the question. There are no mortgage payments or health insurance concerns and no fear of losing one’s livelihood. Sure, death can arrive at any moment, but that is true in the human species too.
The person in God consciousness lives to remember. They acknowledge the terminal diagnosis handed to every being that takes birth, but this is seen as a positive. With that birth there is the chance to remember. The person most worth remembering is the one who does not take birth or die. This person has all-attractive features that never exhaust. He is worth remembering both in the early stages of life and at the time of death.
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
By living to remember, the rest of the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. The misery of being unable to fulfill all desires is understood. The reason for death is understood as well. The negative conditions correspond with a lack of God consciousness. Without God there cannot be happiness. Without God there cannot be an existence, but there is a way to separate from Him in consciousness. Birth and death take place when the consciousness is separated, and so the person desperately seeking to forget actually confirms the need to have God’s association.
“There are millions of living entities who have become conditioned by the laws of material nature, and they are wandering throughout the planetary systems of this universe in different bodily forms. Among them, one who is fortunate meets a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna and comes to understand the meaning of devotional service.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 19.151)
When such a person is truly fortunate, he meets a person who is God conscious. That person then gives as a gift the seed of the creeper of devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. Through the help of the Supreme Lord and His bona fide representative, the seed starts to grow. The resulting creeper is continually watered through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” Holding it all together is the remembrance of the Supreme Lord in His personal form, which is full of attractive features and activities. In the life of remembrance, even that which was previously miserable turns into something wonderful.
By being truly God conscious, one learns that every living being is eternal at their core. There is really no such thing as birth and death. It is merely an illusion, like the changing of clothes. I put on clothes this morning and I will later take them off. These are factual occurrences, but they give the illusion that somehow my identity is changing, while it isn’t. I am the same person today as I was yesterday. Continuing further, I will be the same individual in the next life, after death passes. Someone may not be able to get my association again, but that isn’t so important. The soul is meant to always keep God’s association, which is actually never lost. All other entities are not God; so losing or gaining their association isn’t so significant. If they are devoted to the same God, then their association is always present, for they remain alive in their teachings, example, and name.
We see that to keep this perpetual presence, the relationship to God is necessary. Without it, there is only loss. Despite all the hard work to accumulate so many gains, everything will vanish eventually. Thus forgetfulness becomes a viable option; a way to remain blind to the misery. We would never consider ignorance to be superior to intelligence, but it is the case when there is no acknowledgment of God. And even that superiority is an illusion, a temporary way to escape misery. Reality is God, and so intelligence becomes significant when one associates with Him. Therefore those who practice bhakti-yoga should be known to be the most intelligent. They not only see everything properly, they know how to utilize everything to remain satisfied, without forgetting.
As everything changing, nothing set,
Work hard so later on to forget.
This path certainly not the most wise,
Better to see further with spiritual eyes.
Association of God is one most sought,
Blessed is guru who this creeper brought.
Water with chanting holy names constant,
Living to remember, God no longer distant.