“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.2.6)
स वै पुंसां परो धर्मो
यतो भक्तिर् अधोक्षजे
sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokṣaje
“I have heard His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explain that the best occupation is one that you follow without cause. I get that there is an underlying explanation, that there is more to the story. I know that Bhagavad-gita only begins to scratch the surface of the vast and infinitely expanding spiritual life, available to every living being.
“Without delving further, you would have to admit the obvious contradiction. It’s an occupation; i.e. work. It is something that needs to be done. There is some sort of obligation. I have that important assignment from my manager at the office. If I don’t come through on time, there will be trouble.
“If I fail often enough, I might lose my job. In other words, they will find someone else to fit the occupation. I will be tossed aside. These thoughts are in the mind of every employee. It is lurking in the shadows, with a sort of subtle acknowledgment.
“This means that work must have cause. How can we find an occupation where we go through the sacrifice and effort without some force pushing us along?”
Such an occupation has a corresponding setting. The Sanskrit word is Vaikuntha. It is the place free of anxieties. The description resonates immediately, since we experience one misery after another, beginning from the time of birth.
Who could ever survive such an ordeal again? Tightly packed up inside of someone’s stomach for many months consecutively – it would be a kind of torture for the adult. For the person who is conscious, who has experienced a degree of freedom in expression and movement, to go through birth again is terrifying.
Yet the miseries are there, from beginning to end. Even if everything is going well for me at the moment, there is no certainty of the future. My company might go bankrupt tomorrow. The country could descend into civil war, with the races clashing against each other. The government might decide to confiscate wealth from bank accounts, seizing assets so that no one can flee to a safer place.
The supreme occupation is blissful precisely because there is no cause. Only love; the true version. I work for the pleasure of the all-attractive one, whose realm is naturally free of anxieties. He is the proprietor, the lead object of worship, and the most munificent benefactor.
He does not require my service. He does not insist upon a certain standard of output, wherein a team gets divided amongst senior and junior level employees. Whatever I can do, offered with sincere effort, meant to put a smile on His face, is accepted and appreciated.
पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं
यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति
तद् अहं भक्त्य्-उपहृतम्
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)
This only further invigorates the devotee, serving as impetus for future outpourings of affection. In this way, not only does the place feature borderless land, but there is no limit to the amount of bliss to be experienced. That supreme occupation, dharma, is without motivation and without interruption, and it is the ideal destination for every living being.
This may seem well and good in theory, but there is also practical evidence available. Vaikuntha is a physical location, i.e. the spiritual world. It can also be replicated at any place, even a hellish region. While the world around me is in chaos, I could be focused in the occupation without cause, serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna.
I could spend the mornings chanting His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. I eat only after He has eaten. I read only descriptions of His pastimes and features. I interact only with those who are like-minded, who love Him as much or more than I do. I anticipate future engagement, both in this lifetime and the next.
Current deployment to extend,
Expect that never to end.
Despite not having cause,
Constant effort without pause.
Since satisfying the Supreme one,
So service steadily done.
Same occupation for everyone meant,
Not regretting a moment spent.