“All of them – as they surrender unto Me – I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.11)
You do everything right. In this regard the definition is based on “by the book.” What others have told you, you’ve done. You didn’t question. You weren’t difficult, though you certainly had doubts. Just keep it simple, you told yourself. Follow this routine. Observe this ritual. Pray at this certain time.
Now someone informs you that entry into the kingdom of God is not guaranteed. The explanation is something like the Hall of Fame eligibility. Players from a certain sport may make a ballot on a particular year, but it is up to others to decide on the final outcome. It doesn’t matter how good they were; entry is not guaranteed.
Coming from the kingdom of the material planets, there is only one requirement. It is a spirit within, a kind of thinking. The term most often used is “consciousness.” When the proper consciousness isn’t there, the gates remain closed, and for good reason.
1. Maybe I don’t want to go
I did everything; that is established. I followed what others told me. But maybe my heart wasn’t in it. I followed renunciation, while contemplating objects of the senses at the same time. The five senses are there, and each one has corresponding objects. For instance, the fragrance of a flower is linked to the sense of smell.
In the Bhagavad-gita such a person is referred to as a pretender. The renunciation wasn’t complete. If that is the case, why should the gates to the kingdom of God be opened? The attachment implies desire for residence in another realm. The Almighty, who is ultimately a person, does not force anyone to stay with Him.
2. Still envious of Krishna
One name for that supreme person is Krishna. This Sanskrit word has different meanings, with one of them being “all-attractive.” In the topmost planet of the spiritual realm everyone is attracted to Krishna directly.
In one sense, everyone already follows Him; there cannot be complete separation. The degree of surrender determines the nature of existence. In the material world there is at the very least a trace of envy of Krishna. “I can enjoy without Him. I can rise to the top on my own. There is no God.” One would be surprised to learn that such attitudes can persist in the minds of those who are supposedly on the path of spiritual life. There is the external appearance, but meanwhile the envy remains.
3. Lacking the bhakti spirit
As mentioned previously, if the consciousness is not right the entry won’t be guaranteed. That pure consciousness must have bhakti, which is love and devotion. Interestingly, bhakti is so powerful that it alone can cause the gates to open.
Even if every rule of disciplined spiritual life was violated, if little attention was paid to piety and sin, if personal advancement was never considered, there is still eligibility. After all, the bhakti spirit is what flourishes in the spiritual kingdom. There is tremendous variety, but everyone is linked together through their service to Krishna.
At present not only do I lack the bhakti spirit, but I may not even desire to attain it. Still, pious activities like chanting the holy names can help to reawaken the love that is always there, but which sometimes goes dormant. Therefore even if done without attention, faith or love, the holy names carry tremendous potency to the person who repeats them: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
After doing everything right,
Still getting not heaven’s sight.
Doors closed remaining,
Since desires the consciousness staining.
A pretender because on objects dwelled,
Or envy for Supreme Lord held.
Bhakti spirit to take into account,
No need separate endeavor to mount.
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