“The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.37)
Friend1: I think I’m getting tired of following politics.
Friend2: Why’s that?
Friend1: Nothing ever gets solved. There’s constant bickering.
Friend2: What are the latest issues?
Friend1: The same things. Some union thinks their workers should get paid more. The country’s unemployment rate is very high – people are looking for work. The illegal immigrants want legal status, and the rest of the citizens can’t understand why the immigration laws aren’t being enforced. One side is happy that we’re staying out of foreign conflicts and the other wishes that we’d intervene, for they think we can make a difference.
Friend2: Yup. Fast forward twenty years from now and it will be the same situation. Go back twenty years and you’ll see the newspapers of the time talking about the same stuff.
Friend1: I don’t understand. Why can’t they just solve problems?
Friend2: So you’re frustrated that the problems can’t be fixed by a group of legislators?
Friend1: I know what you’re going to say, that they are the ones causing the problems. But still, we elect these people to fix the obvious problems in the country. Why can’t they do that?
Friend2: Well, that’s a different discussion. We won’t go there right now. We know that the politicians have their own agenda. We know that they have personal interests to fulfill. Let’s keep with the issue of solving problems.
Friend2: The idea you have a problem-free world is impossible to create.
Friend1: Why is that?
Friend2: Think about it. What is your ideal situation?
Friend1: I don’t know.
Friend2: Let me throw some ideas out at you. Would you like it if everyone had a job?
Friend1: Yes, for sure.
Friend2: How about if people didn’t fight and cheat each other?
Friend1: That would be great.
Friend2: And how about the elimination of corruption within government? If the laws got enforced fairly and equally, that would make you happy.
Friend1: Most definitely.
Friend2: Well, you’re forgetting about lust. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that this lust, known as kama in Sanskrit, is the great devourer. You can give everyone in the country a plot of land, a steady supply of food, and protection from foreign attack, but you wouldn’t solve the problem of lust.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: Some people won’t be happy with what they have. They will need more. They will want to collect more. The people who are satisfied with what they have will be fine for a while, until they reach their breaking point. They will see others taking advantage and cheating the system and they will want in on it too.
Friend1: Like the people who try to pass off expired coupons?
Friend2: [laughing] Yes, something like that. The coupons are on the smaller scale and insider trading is on the larger, but the driving force is still the same: lust. If not for lust, how else do you explain people who already have so much money going to jail for committing fraud in order to increase their wealth by just a little bit? How do you explain people running insurance fraud schemes? How do you explain politicians going back on their promises?
Friend1: So you’re saying it’s hopeless? We shouldn’t even bother trying to fix the situation?
Friend2: I’m saying that until you tackle the problem of lust, from which greed is derived, you won’t solve anything. The root cause will always be there; hence the many wars in history. You had people living in a nation that suddenly changed hands. One country wanted to conquer another. And then the abused party decided that they would make sure that such aggression never took place again, only to fail shortly thereafter.
Friend1: So how do you conquer lust, especially if it’s so prevalent?
Friend2: Lust is due to ignorance. If I don’t know who I am, I won’t know how to find satisfaction. I won’t know what my real needs are.
Friend1: And those are?
Friend2: Service in spiritual life. I am spirit at the core. I have nothing to do with lust. Kama is the degraded form of prema or bhakti. Kama descends from prema, which actually never leaves me. In the ignorant state, my pure love for God gets distorted into lust. Think about it. If you had the best food served to you every day, would you be happy?
Friend1: I don’t know. I’m not sure.
Friend2: You wouldn’t. One day you would demand something else. And if you didn’t get it, you would be furious. Or, if one day your dish wasn’t made exactly how you wanted it at that moment, you would lose it. Previously you were so happy just to have that dish one time, and then suddenly that is not good enough.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: So kama works in this way. Gratifying the senses is never enough; there is always a need for more. The desire to satisfy can get so strong that one intentionally breaks the rules. They stop caring about right and wrong, since right to them is whatever brings satisfaction.
Friend1: So how do I get prema back?
Friend2: Bhakti-yoga. That is the only way to cure the disease of lust. Desire never completely leaves us; just its nature changes. Hrishikesha is one name for the Supreme Lord. It means the master of all senses. Since He has senses, God can be pleased. We can be the instruments of that pleasure, serving Him in our constitutional position.
Friend1: And how will that help society as a whole?
Friend2: One person at a time. If I can reduce my lust through chanting the holy names, then that’s one small victory. The person established in the eternal occupation of devotional service gives others the example to aspire to. Others wonder how the bhakta can remain so peaceful in the face of so much adversity. How can they be happy when there is seemingly nothing to be pleased over? These are the transformations that occur upon the removal of lust through entry into bhakti-yoga, the cure for all ailments.
So many problems there are,
Yet from solutions we seem far.
Why government answers not to give,
So that citizens in peace can live?
Says Krishna great devouring enemy is lust,
All under its sway, hardly anyone to trust.
In bhakti tackling problem’s root,
Better example for others to boot.