“My Lord Govinda, because of separation from You, I consider even a moment a great millennium. Tears flow from My eyes like torrents of rain, and I see the entire world as void.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.39)
Imagine this situation. You wake up suddenly. You don’t know where you are or what time it is. You look at your surroundings to try to decipher what is going on. Slowly some things start to come back to you. Then you wonder, “Am I really in this position? Did yesterday really happen? Or was it all a dream, something conjured up in my mind?” Some philosophers take this single instance and extrapolate it out for the entire lifetime. Due to the temporary nature of things, they seem to be on the right track with this dream versus reality comparison. Lord Chaitanya puts everything into the proper perspective, explaining that all experiences indeed do seem like a void without the association of the master of reality.
How is this life like a dream? Well, do you remember your infancy? Do you remember emerging from the womb of your mother and seeing everyone for the first time? Most likely you don’t. From the testimony of others who were there, you know that these events most certainly did happen. And yet you have no recollection of them. Therefore it was like a dream. You saw it for one second and then it went away.
We don’t realize it, but everything around us at the present moment will go away as well. We won’t be able to remember this precise moment perfectly, either. Though we may be experiencing pain, discomfort and stress today, many years from now we could look back on this time fondly. “Oh, that was a great time in my life. I wish I could go back. But I can’t. Now I’m all alone, without my friends and family around. It’s funny how life works.”
“After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.15)
Life in this world is duhkhalayam and ashashvatam. It is miserable and temporary. Nothing stays forever. One second we are a young child and the next we are an adult. One second we are happy and the next sad. One second we have it all and the next we are longing for so many things. Our journey through life is real; so we can’t say that nothing has happened to us. But since everything vanishes eventually, the experience is also like a dream.
There is one reality, however. His presence puts everything into the proper perspective. The experience through life turns pleasurable and permanent when He is included. Not surprisingly, this person is God.
If He is God, how is He not automatically included? How can God be absent from any area?
The required association is through consciousness. Think of lamenting over the fact that you can’t purchase something important when you actually have enough money sitting in your pocket. Think of being extremely hungry and not realizing that you have so much food in the refrigerator in the kitchen.
Lord Chaitanya says that separation from Govinda makes the world seem like a void. Govinda is one of thousands of names for God. It speaks to how the Supreme Lord gives pleasure to the senses and to the cows. The senses are part of the temporary body. They are like the instruments to measure the effects of the external world. The senses can never be satisfied in the dreamlike existence. Once something pleasurable is tasted, the same is desired again. When it is not available at that precise moment, there is misery. Hence sense interaction with the external world automatically brings misery.
Govinda gives pleasure to the senses because He is fixed. He is permanent, unlike the external world. He is the reality that stays past the dream. This life will be over, that is a fact. As soon as there is birth, there must be death. Govinda Himself teaches this in the Bhagavad-gita, where He is more famously known as Shri Krishna, the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead.
jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur
“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.27)
The individual actually stays through the dream as well. This individual is also real. This is true because the individual is spirit. Govinda is the Supreme Spirit, and so both are the only reality maintained through an otherwise dreamlike experience. It makes sense that the two realities should remain in each other’s association. The lack of the relationship is not due to Govinda. He is always standing by, resting within the heart, ready to give shelter to the soul bewildered by the temporary and miserable material world.
sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham
“I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 15.15)
The souls who do not consider the world to be void have yet to feel devotional ecstasy. The souls who think everything is void are also missing out. They don’t know that there is a reality, a person from whom everything has come. His association is most desired, and Lord Chaitanya shows everyone how to get it. It comes in this age most easily through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
That association solves all problems. It reminds the sleeping living entity of who they are, why they are here, and where they should go next. It wakes them up from the dream, revealing to them the true reality. Simply longing for Govinda’s association is enough to get it, turning the void-like world into a field of endless opportunity for devotional service, the eternal occupation for the soul.
Here today and tomorrow gone away,
Nonpermanent, nothing to stay.
Existence something like a dream,
Is anything real that is to be seen?
Chaitanya says that Krishna is the one,
Lone reality in world of happiness none.
Through chanting His names Divine presence see,
And with vision of reality in service happily be.