“To become desireless means not to desire anything for sense gratification. In other words, desire for becoming Krishna conscious is actually desirelessness. To understand one’s actual position as the eternal servitor of Krishna, without falsely claiming this material body to be oneself and without falsely claiming proprietorship over anything in the world, is the perfect stage of Krishna consciousness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 2.71 Purport)
Friend1: We throw around a lot of terms, and since there is a new audience tune-in factor that would stun you, it might be helpful to review some of those Sanskrit words and English-equivalent phrases every now and then.
Friend2: You don’t think someone will eventually figure it out? I mean, no one sat and explained this stuff to me or you, and somehow we turned out okay.
Friend1: We were fortunate to remain on the path. The books kept our attention. Try that with people living in the modern day, where they can’t even stay focused on something important and serious like driving.
Friend2: Are you saying we had stick-to-itiveness?
Friend1: Haha, yes. I certainly love made-up words like that, but let’s focus on a phrase we use quite often in discussions on the science of self-realization: sense gratification.
Friend1: The context is always negative, it seems.
“Don’t be a sense gratifier. Watch out for sense gratification. The pure devotee is without sense gratification.”
Well, what is it, exactly?
Friend2: Shouldn’t the words be enough to explain?
Friend1: Yes, but we all have senses. Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin. The conduits for the senses to act. Isn’t everyone born this way? Why are we focusing on gratifying the senses, necessarily?
Friend2: Now those are good questions. We are indeed born that way, but we are not forced to remain attached. The senses relate to the body, which does not identify us. We are beyond the senses. Atma, the spirit soul, is above the material energy.
Friend1: Okay, great, we are introduced to your philosophical discussion, but what about right now? I have senses at the moment. I don’t think there is a way to shut them off.
Friend2: That is another good truth to bounce off of. We are not asking to eliminate sense interaction entirely. We have eating, sleeping, mating and defending. We have intoxication, enjoying different foods, resting comfortably, listening to music, etc. The idea is to limit these engagements.
Friend1: But why? God gave me a mouth for a reason. I should be able to speak. If I want to eat food, why not? I don’t see the point in torturing myself.
Friend2: That is the beautiful contradiction to it all. That is the reason for the intentional instruction.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: The natural tendency is to go in the direction of sense gratification. One more slice of pizza. Another round of drinks. A few more hours of sleep. Watching one more movie before calling it quits. The truth is that regulation and voluntary restriction will bring much more happiness.
Friend1: It will? How?
Friend1: I see. I could understand why someone would be confused, though.
Friend2: The Sanskrit word is kama. This can mean desire, material enjoyment, or sex life. In truth, the meanings are identical, since the ultimate way to enjoy in a material existence is sex. The entire Vedic culture is built on the foundation of keeping kama under control.
Friend1: But not eliminating it?
Friend2: You can’t. Desire will always be there. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada advises to purify desire. In this regard, the kama gradually morphs into bhakti.
Friend1: Which is devotion.
Friend2: To the Supreme Lord. Work in such a way that He is pleased. Be eager to see His happiness. A welcome benefit is simultaneous control over sense gratification. In the way that the new mother casts aside personal interest in order to take care of her child morning until night and then beyond, so the devotee will accept whatever minimal interaction is there to keep the body going.
Friend1: But we don’t want a body, correct?
Friend2: Krishna will take care of that. We have the body now; might as well make it spiritual in nature. Use it for His benefit. This world is originally His, after all. Otherwise, I will continue to be in ignorance and keep finding ways to configure the life in sense gratification for my benefit.
Friend1: Which will never work out.
Friend2: Because the senses are meant for enjoyment in the spiritual realm, where Krishna is continuously glorified, such as through sacred chants: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Instead of nature’s laws defying,
Why not always glorifying?
Senses spiritual this way turning,
Automatic control over them earning.
So that no more led astray,
Suffering in attachment’s way.
Tall and strong standing,
Assured in Vaikuntha landing.