“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.34)
man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam
Question: God wants me to enjoy. That is the meaning of life. Well, the enjoyment comes through love. That is what binds us all together. Why are you so much against enjoyment? You have this restriction and that. You criticize the smartas, those who literally follow the written and remembered word of the Vedas, smriti, but you have your own rules, too. Get up early in the morning, during the brahma-muhurta period. Chant the holy names a fixed number of times. Don’t eat this. Don’t eat that. Don’t drink. Don’t offend others who are on the same path. Why would a loving God want to punish people in this way?
Mental speculation is relying on only the mind to figure out difficult topics. The origin of the creation, the reason for our being here, the cause of suffering in this world – these are the most puzzling issues. One speculation says that God exists and that He gave us this one life to enjoy. After that enjoyment, we get to go back to Him. Upon careful analysis, through relying on the disciplic succession of the Vedic tradition, we get the proper understanding.
The enjoyment referred to above relates to the senses. There is eating, sleeping, mating and defending, which are the four base animalistic activities. Sense pleasure comes through hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling. Acknowledge that there is a higher power, but don’t really go beyond that. Just believe in Him and you’ll be alright. Then continue to enjoy.
The Vedic tradition says that this kind of enjoyment is actually forgetfulness of God. Using basic substitution, the original theory would then hold that God wants us to forget Him. Take this one life, which is determined arbitrarily and can last as little as a second or as long as one hundred years, and follow whichever direction helps you to best forget the author of all things.
The Bhagavad-gita advises just the opposite. Remember God. The process in Sanskrit is known as vishno-smaranam. Remembrance of God the person, who is known as Vishnu since He is all-pervading. Not a single space is absent the presence and the all-seeing eyes of the Divine. He is also known as Krishna due to His all-attractiveness. That Krishna is the speaker of the Gita. In addition to providing detailed information on the cause of the creation, the interaction of the elements with the living spirits, and the future destination for various kinds of activities, He gives recommendations on how to best achieve happiness.
He advises Arjuna, the symbol of the disciple in the conversation, to become a devotee. Offer obeisances unto Krishna. Always think of Him. In this way you will go to Him. Sounds an awful lot like dogmatic insistence. Seems no different than any other religious path, except there is something unique. Krishna’s all-attractiveness necessitates that the closer one gets to Him, the more enjoyment they receive.
And what about the restrictions? Those are in place to remove obstacles along the path of devotion. If you want to perform well in a race, you have to eat properly beforehand. Eat too much and too soon before the race and you’ll get bogged down. The enjoyment you seek of a top performance will be hindered. The same applies in other areas of achievement. There are always regulations in place to help ensure success.
There are four activities considered the most prohibitive towards development of the devotional consciousness. They are meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. These activities take away the much needed virtues of compassion, honesty, cleanliness and austerity. These are the four pillars of religious life, regardless of the specific tradition followed.
God does indeed want me to enjoy. He knows that real enjoyment comes with His association. If the supposed path of enjoyment leads to forgetfulness, then it is illusion. Hence the common use of the Sanskrit word maya, which means “that which is not.” In illusion, I take that which is not ultimately good for me to be beneficial in the short term. I reject that which will do me the most good going forward. The wise choice is to accept the words of the Bhagavad-gita descending from authority, from those respected personalities who follow the same mood of devotion as the original recipient, the great bow-warrior Arjuna.
To this world with a purpose sent,
To have full enjoyment this existence meant.
But if that path forgetfulness providing,
Then only in miserable future residing.
God wants that enjoyment for us indeed,
But in proper way, from attachment be freed.
Enjoy with Him, in consciousness stay connected,
By His guiding hand in devotion be protected.