“One in the mode of passion is never satisfied with the position he has already acquired; he hankers to increase his position. If he wants to construct a residential house, he tries his best to have a palatial house, as if he would be able to reside in that house eternally.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 14.12 Purport)
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is known as Shyamasundara, amongst many other names. Like the cloud reaching its full potential for water, about to pour down on earth, to nourish the crops, to give life – that is the complexion on the transcendental body of Bhagavan. The color is shyama, or dark. Since this complexion is so beautiful, with attractiveness in every other feature, as well, on the same person, another name is Krishna.
The existence, the life of the living being, the jiva, is meant for service to Shyamasundara. That service is in the very nature of the individual, its dharma. There need not be a term to describe it. There need not be a specific exercise to acquire the taste or relinquish interest in other areas. That service is the true state of existence, bhava.
Unfortunately, material existence brings a covering of ignorance. That force is so strong that interests go in every which direction. The default mentality for the human being fits squarely in a mode of living known as passion. From a brief study of a few instances of that way of life, a defect immediately stands out.
1. Constructing a residential house
I now have some money. I’ve saved it up for some time. I was fine living where I was, but everyone keeps telling me to buy my own house. I shouldn’t waste money on rent. Also, a house is a real asset. Though on taxes I get to deduct for depreciation, in most cases the value of the property appreciates with time. I won’t lose anything in the long run.
Something I had no interest in before suddenly consumes my time. I have decided to build a new house instead of purchasing an existing one. Every decision is in my hands. The type of flooring, the number of rooms, the kind of heating and cooling, the length of the driveway – stuff I never considered before.
I’ve decided that this house must be like a palace. I will spare no expense. Rather than regret decisions later on, I’m going to go for it. As they say, “Go big or go home.”
2. Competing in a sport
I’ve played this sport since I was a child. It used to be a way to pass the time, but then gradually I developed ability, so much so that others have taken over management. They say that the natural talent shouldn’t go to waste. They want me to play professionally.
That is what I have done. I worked so hard that I became champion of the world for one year. It wasn’t easy, at all. When others were out enjoying with friends and family at night, I had to sleep early. I had to get up before others went to work and start my exercise and training routine.
Now that I am champion the pressure has only increased. I must repeat the performance the subsequent year. If I stay on this path, one day I could become the greatest of all time, in the opinion of the experts.
3. Enjoying with the opposite sex
It wasn’t easy to attract this person. I had to go all out. I had to try my best. They had to notice me first. Then I had to impress them in some way. It worked out in the end. I succeeded. The same passion remains, however. The chase was wonderful, the catch is okay, but I need another chase. I am not fully satisfied.
In this way the mode of passion brings intense desire, which only increases with time. Success is no cure. Sometimes the more success that follows the stronger the fire becomes. Moreover, the results are not permanent. The person in the palatial house will not be able to live there forever. One day the greatest of all time will not even be good enough to compete with their children. The person jumping from one partner to another will continue to remain unsatisfied in their conjugal desires.
The original dharma of the soul is not like this. Service to Shyamasundara goes by the term bhakti-yoga in the material world. It is above the mode of goodness, even. There can be a strong desire to serve, and there is satisfaction as a result. The desire remains, however, and the impact is not negative. The more one serves, the more they appreciate Krishna, who is the Supreme Lord. The more they appreciate Him, the closer they come, ideally reaching the point where they are never separated from Him. Firmly linked in what is known as yoga, not only is escape from the material world guaranteed, but the consciousness is so strong that birth in any place is of no concern, as bhakti will continue.
After saving money to try,
A new house to buy.
In sport professionally competing,
Desired now the victories repeating.
Chased after conjugal desire strong,
But now for something similar to long.
Mode of passion in this way defective,
Only goodness of bhakti lasting effective.
Categories: the three