“A liberated person enjoys happiness by factual experience. He can, therefore, sit silently at any place and enjoy the activities of life from within. Such a liberated person no longer desires external material happiness. This state is called brahma-bhuta, attaining which one is assured of going back to Godhead, back to home.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 5.24 Purport)
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“In bhakti-yoga we are encouraged to participate in activities. Don’t renounce everything outright. The example to follow is Arjuna. He heard the Vedic science from the person who is the compiler of Vedanta study. Arjuna was in direct contact with the adi-guru, the original spiritual master.
“The immediate impact was continued action. Arjuna did not retire. He engaged the senses, but in a renounced way. Yukta-vairagya. Connected but disengaged at the same time. The secret was to stay in consciousness of Shri Krishna, the Supreme Lord. Krishna was there before as the charioteer, became guru for a time, and then returned to the role of servant of His dear friend and cousin.
“At the same time, one of the verses sung in the instruction to Arjuna describes how a liberated soul takes happiness from within. He is active inside of the body and he rejoices there, as well. The two concepts seem contradictory to me. On the one hand we are told to engage, and on the other we see the qualifications of a liberated soul pertaining to inaction.”
The simple explanation is that when a person is beyond the influence of the senses, they no longer require outside engagement to feel happiness. This does not mean they shut off the outside world altogether. They neither hate to do prescribed duty, nor do they feel excessive attachment to it.
A simple example we can use to help understand the concept is a long-haul journey. We take a flight that is over ten hours in length. There are no stops in between. The passenger makes this journey on a regular basis; say every few months or so.
For the first few flights they are terrified at the thought of being stuck in one place for that long. They load up on entertainment options. Movies. Books. Video games. Backup batteries. They plan on trying to forget time while the plane is flying across the globe.
After some practice in bhakti-yoga, immersing themselves in the Vedic culture passed down through the parampara system, the same person is able to tolerate the flight without extra help. In fact, they sit there quietly in the seat the entire time. The options of in-flight entertainment are there, but never utilized.
1. Contemplating Krishna’s activities from the past
The joy from within is through contemplation. The person striving for perfection in Krishna consciousness can remember the Supreme Lord at any time. They can transport the mind to distant places, in previous ages.
For instance, they can fondly remember Shri Krishna crawling on the sacred ground of Gokula Vrindavana. They can remember Him breaking into the cowsheds of the neighbors and taking a ride on the tail of one of those sacred animals. They can remember how He broke a pot of butter in anger and then fed some of the butter to the monkeys.
The pastimes are many, and there are varying presentation styles, all for the consumption and benefit of future generations. The original sound of the Sanskrit language is preserved, and the spiritual master ensures that there is no deviation to the meaning.
2. Being grateful for the bhakti-life at present
The person sitting in that seat can chant the holy names quietly: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They can feel blessed at their great fortune, at having been saved from the depressing material life, which never leads to lasting happiness.
They see the spirit souls seated around them, who also represent sparks of the Divine. Everything is working together, without a master coordinator. Ah, but there is the origin in the background. He is both within everything and simultaneously outside of it.
3. Plan future activities in devotion
The passenger looks forward to when they land. They will continue to serve the Supreme Lord and those dedicated to Him. They will find ways to glorify. They will try to stay connected in yoga. Blissful anticipation.
Since at every moment they are contemplating the Absolute, they rejoice from within. Though they are supposedly on the path towards liberation, the attempt at pleasing Krishna alone brings liberation. That is to say simply from the constant contemplation they become liberated, free from the cycle of birth and death.
Towards liberation to proceed,
But already there indeed.
Confusion to work or not,
Same from either has got.
Simply from contemplation,
Creating the yoga connection.
Joy from Krishna-lila therein,
Or chanting holy names within.
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