“My dear beautiful wife, what you have said is befitting the occasion and also indicative of the greatness of your family heritage. You are dearer to Me than My life, for you are My companion in the performance of religious duties.” (Lord Rama speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 10.21)
Friend1: Tell me more about the spiritual world breaking from the laws of the material world.
Friend2: What do you mean? Like with the no electricity thing?
na tad bhāsayate sūryo
na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ
yad gatvā na nivartante
tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)
Friend1: That is cool, for sure. I know that the illumination comes from the amazingly effulgent transcendental body of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Friend2: Brighter than a thousand suns; a million even. The impersonal Brahman, which is more of a perspective on spirit, is an amazing light. Those who can see beyond that light have the superior divine vision. They can understand that God is a person.
Friend1: I was thinking more about the limitations on things. For example, I’m sure you’ve heard of the “zero-sum game” theory. It’s often used in debates over economic policy. The idea is that if one person gets a job, another person loses theirs. You can’t have prosperity for everyone.
Friend2: Right, and that’s silly if you consider all of the land that goes unused. If I grow food on my property, it doesn’t mean that you can’t grow food on yours. There is plenty to go around in this world.
Friend1: Yeah, I agree with you there. But even still, we know that there is a limit. We don’t know exactly what it is, and surely the earth could handle many more people than it has right now. One country produces enough food for the rest of the world to consume.
Friend1: I wanted to hear more about how in the spiritual world one minus one can equal one.
Friend2: Oh. What do you want to know? Seems like you understand it pretty well.
Friend1: Well, how does it work? If you take something away, how can you still have it? That’s contradictory.
Friend2: If we could understand it, it wouldn’t be noteworthy. There is no way to explain it. It just is.
Friend1: Fine, I can see that you’re dodging the question. No problem. I really wanted to get to something else anyway.
Friend2: Here we go.
Friend1: In the Ramayana I have several times seen Shri Rama offer nice praise to people important to Him. Don’t ask me to quote the exact verses, but it’s something along the lines of, “You are dearer to me than my life. No one is more dear to me.”
Friend2: Yes. He says it to Sita Devi, His wife. He says it to Bharata, one of His younger brothers. Shri Krishna says the same thing when describing those who explain the supreme science of the Bhagavad-gita to the devotees.
na ca tasmān manuṣyeṣu
kaścin me priya-kṛttamaḥ
bhavitā na ca me tasmād
anyaḥ priyataro bhuvi
“There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.69)
Friend1: Well, here’s how things tie in to what I said originally. How can all of these people be dearest to Him? The whole point of using terms like “greater than” and “more than” is to make a comparison. You’re saying that one thing is of greater significance compared to another thing.
Friend1: Don’t you see the contradiction here?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: How can all of these people be more important than everyone else? Isn’t this the Supreme Lord engaging in some hollow flattery?
Friend2: Whoa! That’s a serious charge you’re making. [sarcastic]
Friend1: Okay, it’s not hollow, but you get my point. He’s flattering these people for some reason. The words He says can’t logically be true.
Friend2: They most certainly can. It does relate to the spiritual world having no limits. As you said before, one minus one can equal one. Shri Rama can consider Bharata to be the greatest devotee and then a moment later apply the same designation to Shri Hanuman, His most famous servant.
Friend1: Then why even use those terms? Why make the comparison in the first place? Don’t the people feel less significant when they hear Rama praising others?
Friend2: Just the opposite. They agree with Him. Sita thinks that no one is a better devotee than Hanuman. Hanuman thinks that Sita and Bharata are the best. Even Lord Chaitanya thought Himself to be quite low, even though He was just the opposite.
Friend1: Yeah, but that’s crazy. No one is going to believe that.
Friend2: They do, trust me. They genuinely feel that everyone else is better than them at serving the Supreme Lord. That is one indication of being at the height of consciousness. Anyway, you should know that God can love every single person and mean it. He rests within every person’s heart as the Supersoul. His bestowing of mercy on one person does not take away from His affection for another person. This is a key point on which you and I should meditate. The more you think about it, the more appreciation you’ll have for God the person. You will become even more committed to bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, as a result.
When to Sita flattering words to say,
And then to Bharata the same play.
Is not just some form of game,
How greater than to be the same?
Spiritual science in this way applying,
Best not upon mundane logic relying.
Just because mercy for others to see,
Meaning not that same cannot be for me.