“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)
Friend1: Let’s talk about the starting point for bhakti-yoga.
Friend2: Okay. Is there some confusion? It’s too difficult to simply chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare?
Friend1: Glad you mentioned that. Obviously, it’s not difficult to understand. From that sense the point of entry is rather clear. I’m confused from a verse in the Bhagavad-gita, though.
Friend2: Okay. Which one?
Friend1: About the brahma-bhutah person. They are Brahman realized, meaning they understand both theoretically and practically the spiritual energy that pervades everything.
Friend2: Actually, vijnana, the practical understanding, is enough, but I know what you mean.
Friend1: Care to explain?
Friend2: Consider the practicing doctor. Does it really matter what their score is on an exam about medicine? You might be worried that they don’t give the proper answer, but if they can heal real-life patients, that is more important.
Friend1: But when will a good doctor not be able to explain their methodology and practice?
Friend2: It’s rare, but I’m sure it can happen. There are excellent computer programmers out there who can barely communicate with other people. They know what they are doing, they are highly proficient, but they might not know how to explain the different concepts that they instinctively employ.
Friend1: Oh, I see. I get it. Anyway, the Brahman realized person has two distinct characteristics.
Friend2: They no longer hanker or lament.
Friend1: That is a pretty amazing position to be in. Everyone hankers after stuff they want and laments about what they don’t have.
Friend2: Or what they have lost.
Friend1: So this Brahman realized person is then well-situated to take up bhakti-yoga.
Friend2: Yes. This is important to understand. Realizing Brahman is not the end. Some people have a similar concept, but with a different name, like nirvana. It seems like an end, but there is another step to go.
Friend1: I get that, trust me. My question is how in the world am I going to stop hankering and lamenting? And since I’m failing in those areas, how can I practice bhakti-yoga properly?
Friend2: Just stick to the regulative principles. Avoid the four pillars of sinful life: meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. Chant the holy names, as mentioned before. Associate with like-minded saintly people, sadhu-sanga.
Friend1: That’s fine, but how can I enter real devotional service without becoming Brahman realized? How can I realize Brahman without removing hankering and lamentation?
Friend2: You can bypass those stages. It’s not like that is the only way to become dear to Krishna. Otherwise, the connection would have strict requirements, to which hardly anyone would qualify. Remember, even a child can be connected to God the person. Children hanker after stuff all the time. They barely know better.
Friend1: That is a good example. Explain how they can practice bhakti.
Friend2: The same way that was just mentioned. We’re talking Krishna consciousness here. Consciousness can change very quickly, and at any time. Just focus on God. Take advantage of His personal association, and soon everything sorts itself out. The brahma-bhutah stage will arrive very quickly and be bypassed just as quickly, as if it were one of the many trees you pass on the highway while driving. There won’t be any concern in that area.
Friend1: Then why is that verse there to begin with?
Friend2: To show that there is something beyond Brahman. To give the link between Bhagavan and Brahman. To show that a formless and identity-less energy is not everything, since there can be no relationship with it.
Hankering over what to get,
At loss into lamentation set.
Above is the brahma-bhutah soul,
An even temperament their goal.
For bhakti ideally situated so,
But difficult, so how to go?
For success consciousness the key,
Potential in even the child to see.