“The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge merges entirely into transcendence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.23)
The human being should know Brahman. He has the ability to discern things. Like the baseball player reading the stitches on a fastball, a human being can quickly make identifications based on past observations. I saw how a leopard looks on a television program, so when I see one in real life I can identify it very quickly. The most important identification relates to Brahman, and the difficulty is that it lies beyond the range of perception. Once you are fortunate to know and see this undifferentiated spiritual energy, you still require activity.
This is where the personal aspect comes in. The personal is the source of Brahman, which is sort of impersonal. Brahman says that I am spirit at the core. Inside this covering we call a body exists an individual animating force. Since it seems to lack qualities, it is called nirguna in Sanskrit. The combination of the individual Brahman spark and a temporary covering is known as saguna. You take all the individual sparks together and you get the total Brahman energy. The personal aspect is the source of that energy, and in service to it one tastes the fruit known as liberation.
Liberation is the end to the cycle of birth and death. No more dying since you no longer take birth. Yet unless you have activities in that liberation, your achievement doesn’t last. More importantly, in connecting with the personal aspect at the outset, you automatically become Brahman realized. That which was previously difficult becomes very easy. Shanti was explaining this concept to her friend one day through relating a story from her own life.
I remember one evening at home I was very busy. We had just started our catering business and I had to prep for a large delivery the next day. The problem was that my husband was not home and my son Vraj was acting up. I couldn’t get him to stay calm. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I went straight for the surefire trick known to parents: television.
“Vraj, do you want to watch Sesame Street? Look, it’s Burt and Ernie. You watch this while Mommy goes in the kitchen.”
He watched for a little bit but soon he made his way into the kitchen. “Don’t touch that; it’s hot!” I told him. “Oh why are you going over there? You will break it.” I basically had to repeat myself for as many items as were in the kitchen. I felt bad after a while since I kept telling him to not do this and to not do that. There was only so much that he was going to listen to.
Finally, I decided that I needed a different strategy. Simply prohibiting things was not going to work. I gave something new a try. Perhaps he could help me. Being a small boy, the job would have to be simple. I also had to keep him away from anything sharp; so cutting was out of the question.
I had these cookies that were going to be given out to each guest. I bought a bunch of cellophane bags, and each one had to have a few cookies in them. “Vraj, you see those cookies over there? Put four cookies into each one of these bags and then tie it. Here, I’ll show you how to do it.” I didn’t have high hopes, for I figured he would lose interest. Just the opposite happened in fact. He was really good at it. He was much happier. He counted out loud for each bag, and he wasn’t making a mess.
Shanti explained to her friend that having this positive activity did way more for her son than simply telling him to stay away from this or that. “It’s sort of like the difference between trying to understand the impersonal Brahman and serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. To know Brahman means to stay away from maya, or illusion. Don’t have attachments. Don’t get mad when things don’t go your way. Don’t have desires. Basically, sit there like a lump and focus your mind. Then you will be Brahman realized.”
“Serving Bhagavan is different,” she continued. “You get endless activities. In the process you automatically get detachment. Trust me, if you have love for the darling child of Nanda Maharaja you will want nothing more to do with the temporary. If tears stream down your face when you think of the love mother Yashoda has for Krishna, you will not be so attached to that which comes and goes.”
Shanti told her friend that in bhakti-yoga the enjoyment continues, for it is not simply a vehicle for achieving an end. It is the end itself, since it is an endless engagement. It is the activity found in the liberated state. Before death and after it – the activity remains in both. And the attachment only increases, since the Supreme Lord is of the spiritual nature. His glories are always increasing, and so the person serving Him keeps getting more and more to appreciate, honor, remember, and serve. In that service they find liberation even before death, seeing the Brahman that was previously hidden behind the wall of maya.
Even when maya’s illusion to drop,
In liberation activity not to stop.
Else again into ocean to fall,
Despite previous achievement tall.
Better if from start with Krishna to connect,
In bhakti automatically the spiritual to detect.
Easy also for reaching the same end,
Endless activity in liberation then.