“The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.59)
Friend1: What if a person has an experience that they really enjoy?
Friend2: What do you mean? A vacation or a one-time thing?
Friend1: Repeatable. They are able to indulge at their choosing. Let’s put aside drug abuse for the moment, as the harmful effects are obvious.
Friend2: Also, the more you get addicted the more volume is required to reach the same euphoria. It’s the law of diminishing returns.
Friend1: Let’s say this is something a person likes to eat, such as pizza.
Friend2: What about amorous relations?
Friend1: Honestly, that’s where I was going with this, but I was too embarrassed to bring it up. Yes, someone says that the height of living is sex. Let’s go with that hypothetical situation.
Friend2: Completely normal, by the way. The teachers following in the Vedic tradition stress this point constantly.
Friend1: They say that there is no enjoyment higher than sex?
Friend2: They say that is the thought of the conditioned living entity. Moreover, societies are based entirely on this type of pleasure. It influences the way people eat, where they decide to live, what they wear, and even what mode of transportation they use.
Friend1: Oh, for sure. If you meet a single woman and tell her you’re a doctor or a lawyer, immediately their interest increases.
Friend2: Isn’t that a little sexist?
Friend1: I’ve had several women tell me this.
Friend2: I’m just kidding, but it makes sense. Profession corresponds with salary. A person who is wealthy is automatically of greater interest to practically everyone in society.
Friend1: What do these teachers say is the solution?
Friend2: To what? The enjoyment is available. Have at it. Go crazy. You only get one life, so live it up.
Friend1: Haha, I know that’s not what they say. What is the response to a person asking whether there is anything in life that equals their otherwise preferred means of enjoyment?
Friend2: A person can only ask that question if they haven’t experienced spiritual life to the fullest. Admittedly, religion is equated with old institutions governed by outdated rules and laws, with an old and angry man watching disapprovingly from above.
Friend1: And the threat of eternal damnation if you don’t surrender, where the definition of surrender is subjective and usually means just showing up to a building periodically.
Friend2: Exactly. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna provides the answer to your question in a single verse.
Friend1: Yeah? What does the verse say?
Friend2: It starts with talking about restricting sense enjoyment. Obviously, that is a first step in spiritual life. You must be looking for something better if you decide to try any sort of religion. Religion equates to dharma in Sanskrit, which implies restriction and regulation.
Friend2: You may be successful at following the restriction. It’s something like following a diet and losing weight. The problem is the sense objects are still there. You might still crave pizza and ice cream for every meal.
Friend1: For sure.
Friend2: The thing with genuine spiritual life, there is a higher taste. That is the translation used by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada for the Sanskrit words param drishtva. You are experiencing something better. Do you know what the natural result is?
Friend1: That you stick to spiritual life, that you don’t go back?
Friend2: Pretty much, but I was looking for something more specific. You cast aside those previous attachments. What you thought was the most enjoyable thing no longer is, and you don’t have to force yourself to avoid it. The higher taste can be both literal and figurative. There is the wonderful taste of the Lord’s mercy, food offered to Him directly in a mood of love.
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)
Chanting the holy names can also bring the higher taste in terms of consciousness: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Yamunacharya says it best. Ever since he started serving the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord Krishna, he spits at the thought of sex life. Can you imagine that? And he’s not lying or being overly dramatic. It’s honestly how he feels. The key is to go to God the person. That direct service is known as bhakti-yoga, and it is the highest taste that can exist.
So enjoyable that I can’t resist,
Higher taste than this can exist?
True for sex in material life,
World moves on link of man and wife.
But in spiritual existence real,
Something much better to feel.
Bliss of devotion to Krishna got,
A last engagement never to drop.