“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.28)
Friend1: You know what the key ingredient is to a sweet?
Friend2: Umm, sugar?
Friend1: See, that is the obvious answer.
Friend2: Is it a trick question?
Friend1: Sort of. I heard it explained once and then it totally made sense to me.
Friend2: The answer is not sugar? How is it a sweet, then?
Friend1: Surely you need the sweet taste. That is the whole point. But what really makes the item stand out is salt.
Friend1: Keep an eye on it going forward. When eating something like rasmalai, notice the presence of salt. I found out with the cookies that I make. On those occasions when I put in a little more salt, I get rave reviews afterwards.
Friend2: These are cookies made for other people?
Friend1: Prasadam. Offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Hopefully with love and devotion, but I could never make that claim about myself. I don’t really know how to cook anything. I just put stuff together as a way to increase my devotion, to give myself another routine to follow.
Friend2: Some people might interpret that incorrectly, that you are haphazard in your effort.
Friend1: I know. The idea is that I am not so interested in the reception. Whether the cookies are good or not, as long as they are edible. The devotional practice is the important aspect to me.
Friend2: I get it.
Friend1: Anyway, that salty-sweet contradiction, the alternating tastes, got me thinking about bhakti life in general.
Friend1: I’ve noticed that if I have a particularly tough few days, I tend to appreciate devotional service more.
Friend2: Define “tough few days.”
Friend1: Too much stress at work. Worry about the future. Bad association. Dealing with people that are not like-minded.
Friend2: In essence, a few days where bhakti might not take up the majority of your day.
Friend1: You could say that. It’s not intentional. I have to earn a living, after all.
Friend2: I’m not being accusatory. Just trying to properly characterize the issue.
Friend1: It’s something like having found an oasis in a desert. You’re so thirsty, and then you really appreciate the water. Otherwise, the feeling might not be the same.
Friend2: I know in The Nectar of Devotion by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada there is something similar mentioned. In Sanskrit it is said that the happiness after a long period of suffering is more intense than if that suffering were absent.
Friend1: There you go. Similar to what I was describing.
Friend2: Makes sense. It’s the contrast.
Friend1: Here is the question. Does this not make the case for engaging in sinful life? If I want to really enjoy the association of the Divine, is it not better that I forget Him for a while?
Friend2: Are you serious with this?
Friend1: Play along. What if someone were to make that argument?
Friend2: For starters, there is no guarantee that you would return.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: If you want to intentionally forget Krishna, which is the cause of birth in the material world and the subsequent spinning on the wheel of suffering in the first place, who is to say that you will one day find bhakti again? Perhaps you will stay lost, changing from one body to another. Maybe you will get an animal birth in the next life and miss the chance for understanding Brahman, the spiritual energy. Maybe you will develop an asura-type mentality, where you get cast into lower births repeatedly.
Friend1: Okay, but what is a few lifetimes in the grand scheme? If the taste at the end is so much greater, perhaps it is worth the risk.
Friend2: The second argument is that you already have forgotten. It is said that a person only comes to the Supreme Personality of Godhead in a devotional mood, ready to practice real yoga, after having exhausted all sinful reactions, papam.
Friend2: The idea is that you already have forgotten for so long. I have, as well. Don’t forget anymore. The taste of devotion will be sweet enough. In spiritual life, there are no limitations. This means that the sweetness can only increase. This is seen in the spiritual land of Vrindavana. Radharani and others only increase their love for Krishna as each day goes by. There is no limit, so better to stay on the safe side, under the shelter of the all-attractive one.
After defeat many a time,
Finally that mountain to climb.
Victory that much sweeter tasting,
After for so long chasing.
Not the same with bhakti to win,
Why not first for a while to sin?
Idea that already much time spent,
For final birth into this life sent.