“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)
न शोचति न काङ्क्षति
समः सर्वेषु भूतेषु
मद्-भक्तिं लभते पराम्
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
It is more than just dogmatic insistence. The acharyas want us to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan, because it will be the best thing for us. Both long-term interest [paramartha] and short-term gain [svartha] will be satisfied.
स्वारथ परमारथ सकल सुलभ एक ही ओर |
द्वार दूसरे दीनता उचित न तुलसी तोर ||
svāratha paramāratha sakala sulabha eka hī ora |
dvāra dūsare dīnatā ucita na tulasī tora ||
“When your personal and supreme interests can be easily obtained from one place, it is not sensible for you in weakness to beg at the doors of others, O Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 54)
Goswami Tulsidas confirms the same, as does Prahlada Maharaja. Approach the Almighty directly. Bypass the impersonal Brahman and even the localized aspect of the Absolute Truth known as Paramatma.
Otherwise, you will be left in a material existence. This is more than a theoretical concept to be discussed only amongst elevated scholars. The existence has two primary features, and since they are opposed to one another, the experience is something like swinging on a pendulum.
1. Lamenting after loss
“The pain is unbearable. I cannot believe how difficult it is to move past this episode. Everyone gives the same advice, to move on, but that is easier said than done. This defeat attacks at my very core. I find it difficult to wake up in the morning. I don’t see the point to living, to moving forward.
“This is due to the loss of the association of a potential paramour. I cannot believe they did not feel the same way about me. It is unrequited love at its essence. They say that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. I beg to disagree. I am strongly on the other side. This is the most hellish experience ever.”
2. Hankering after gain
“I want this so bad. I can almost taste it. You could call the ordeal the magnificent obsession. Teachers guide us towards our passions in life. They recommend finding one and then indulging it. That will supposedly make us happy in adult life.
“Well, I am right in the middle of the storm. I want this one thing so bad that I can’t think of anything else. I will do whatever it takes. My every waking moment is dedicated to this pursuit. I will leave no stone unturned.”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the entire material existence is essentially toggling between these two extremes. Typically, we hanker first. We want something so desperately. If we are lucky enough to get it, we hanker for more. It is like pouring gasoline on the fire; the less intelligent will somehow think this is the way to extinguish the blaze.
आवृतं ज्ञानम् एतेन
āvṛtaṁ jñānam etena
“Thus, a man’s pure consciousness is covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied and which burns like fire.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.39)
At some point the lust will not be satisfied. That for which I hanker will be taken away from me. Then comes the pain of loss. You could be one point away from winning the match. You could have altered the diet slightly to enable your elderly family member to live another year or two. You could have spent some more time appreciating that important person in your life.
While the ultimate goal of spiritual life is connection with the Divine, one of the instant benefits is peacefulness. This is achieved while at the Brahman-realization level. That is to say I don’t necessarily have to meet God face-to-face in order to be in a state of equanimity.
In fact, Shri Krishna explains that after rising above hankering and lamenting, the individual is ideally situated to worship God the person. They are ready for bhakti-yoga, and fortunately the principles of that discipline are so powerful that even without achieving the proper disposition, a person can make advancement.
This is why the acharya recommends worshiping directly from the beginning. If for nothing else, find some peace in this otherwise turbulent storm of a material existence: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Acharya to warn,
Against turbulent storm.
Where hankering on one side,
And later lamentation to preside.
Swinging back and forth,
Material life in course.
Through God find peace and strength,
Power of yoga even without Brahman ascent.
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