“O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.27)
In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that the living entities in this world are born into delusion. Dualities arise from desire and hate, which then lead to bewilderment. This makes sense if we think about it. If we have a strong desire for something, we are likely to ignore key facts that might help further our intelligence. Then there is the famous phrase, “blinded by hate,” where someone can’t see clearly due to their intense dislike for someone else. In all cases, the purifying agent is the Supreme Lord Himself, who passes on that potency to the association of His devoted servants, who are known as the Vaishnavas.
It is not uncommon to think wrongly about so many people. Take this occurrence for example. You’re in a post office waiting to send out a letter. The person in front of you at the counter starts yelling and screaming. They demand to see a manager. They are being very rude to the clerk. After a short exchange, things seem to settle down. The impression you’re left with is that the person is mean. But in fact a few minutes later he approaches you outside. “Excuse me, sir, but this fell out of your pocket.” He hands you a twenty dollar bill. So in fact that person is not completely mean. Perhaps the clerk said something inappropriate to him first. Perhaps he is struggling with a tough day and suddenly lost his cool. After all, you are known for losing your temper from time to time.
In another occurrence, you think that just because someone is from a particular race, they are automatically prejudiced towards members of your race. You think they are a bigot, when in fact you are the one prejudging them. This latter truth doesn’t occur to you, since you have your mind made up. But when a person from that race is nice to you later on, when they show no hints of racism whatsoever, your previous assessment becomes invalid.
In another instance you see someone meditating and think that they are a pseudo-spiritualist. “They probably don’t know anything. That’s why they’re sitting there doing nothing. They probably think that God is this formless energy, that we are all God. They are probably chanting the sacred syllable of om over and over again, thinking that it will bring them to enlightenment. They are likely an impersonalist.” Then, when you happen to run into them later on, they speak only of the glories of the personal form of God. Their meditation is their preferred means of worship of Him.
Delusion gives rise to misconceptions. Since the bewilderment comes from desire and hate, the obvious cure is to get rid of these things. But in fact, there is no way to stop desire. And that which gets in the way of that which we desire automatically becomes disliked. So how do we break free from the delusion? The trick given by the advanced spiritual teachers is the association of the Supreme Lord, in His personal form. The more one stays attached to Him, the more their intelligence sharpens. That is, the more one has a desire to be with the personal form of God, the more they eschew ordinary desire and hate.
The most advanced spiritualist in this regard is known as a paramahamsa. They extract the essence that is the Supreme Spirit from any and all situations. Instead of seeing someone as a racist, they see them as a potential victim of the false identification that is concomitant with birth in a material body. Instead of seeing someone as mean, they see them acting out on their frustrations, which are bound to occur in a land where no one always gets what they want. Instead of seeing someone as an impersonalist right away, they know that the preferred method of worship is only external, and that it is the consciousness which determines whether one is properly associating with God or not.
Most importantly, the paramahamsa does not see anyone as separate from God. They understand that everyone is spirit, and that spirit is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. The storehouse of the spiritual energy is known as Krishna, and He is a distinct personality. The paramahamsa sees Krishna within everyone as well, since the Lord resides within every heart in His nonvisible manifestation known as the Supersoul. In this way the paramahamsa is ready to offer respect to everyone and does not expect it in return.
To be a paramahamsa is to always be thinking of God and to also always be seeing Him. To help in the process, to help foster the original desire of Krishna consciousness, there is the trusted method of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Attachment to the name itself is enough to bring about the proper desire. In this desire there is no bewilderment, and the previous delusion soon gives rise to enlightenment, which provides the clearest vision for navigating the otherwise turbulent waters of the material ocean.
Swayed by constant desire and hate,
Leaves mind in bewildered state.
Despite studying others for long,
To be left with impression wrong.
Instead with Shri Krishna stay,
And gradually find enlightenment’s way.
Presence of Divine in all beings see,
When chanting holy names with offenses free.