“The basic principle of the living condition is that we have a general propensity to love someone. No one can live without loving someone else. This propensity is present in every living being. Even an animal like a tiger has this loving propensity at least in a dormant stage, and it is certainly present in the human beings.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Preface)
“Isn’t life all about love? Isn’t that the secret? Live for others. Sacrifice for the interest of someone else. Don’t be selfish. Don’t always think of just yourself.
“This is good not only for the society around you, but for your mental wellbeing, also. Growing up, I always heard this principle: It is better to give than to receive. Usually, this was said around the holiday season, when children were making their gift list for the parents.
“Instead of, ‘I want this and I want that,’ try to think of others. You will be happier in making others happy. Isn’t this the focus? Shouldn’t that be the objective of spiritual life, to lift others up?”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that every person has a propensity to love. It is within the nature of the soul itself, which is the essence of identity. This means that the loving propensity is there within the animal community, as well.
There is a correlation with spiritual life, as this loving propensity is part of dharma. Dharma is the essence of the existence. It is the property or properties which cannot be removed from the object. As long as I exist, I will have the tendency to love.
Spiritual life is taking this propensity and placing it in the proper direction. Every other exhibition of love has defects and limitations. For instance, I may decide to serve my country. I love the land of my birth.
I serve to the extent of risking my life. I get deployed to foreign countries to deal with hostile actors. I lose some of my closest friends in the process. I am separated from my family for months at a time. I can’t make any long-term plans precisely because I cannot guarantee living into the future.
When I return home, barely anyone appreciates me. An influential group of citizens thinks that I am a murderer, that I have caused trouble in otherwise peaceful populations. They spit on me as I walk by on the street. They hate my very existence.
When love is in the area of sense gratification, this is the vulnerability. Love can turn into hate. The other side might not appreciate what I do for them. Moreover, my consciousness has not reached the proper elevation, to where I won’t have to repeat the experience in the future.
Love of God is like watering the root of the tree. The leaves and branches automatically receive nourishment. This outpouring of love lacks the defect of missing reciprocation. It also cannot be checked by time and circumstances.
Someone like Prahlada Maharaja loves God through the innocence of childhood, all the way to the end of life. He continues in the loving service no matter where he ends up. Whether he is being vilified and tortured by his father or receiving boons directly from Narasimhadeva, Prahlada is steady in his service.
The Vaishnava tries to help others to exercise the same love. This is the true boon of the human birth, to find God and never let Him go.
Now that His mercy to know,
Never to let go.
If choice that is mine,
That in devotion to find.
Whether high or in destitution,
This my firm resolution.
From Prahlada taking inspiration,
Who steady in determination.