“A pure soul is the eternal servant of God as His fragmental part and parcel. He comes into contact with maya (illusion) due to the desire to lord it over maya, and that is the cause of his many sufferings. As long as he is in contact with matter, he has to execute work in terms of material necessities. Krishna consciousness, however, brings one into spiritual life even while one is within the jurisdiction of matter, for it is an arousing of spiritual existence by practice in the material world.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 5.29 Purport)
“I particularly do not like weddings. I am speaking of the event in general, not the actual institution that it creates. I am not a big party person to begin with, and a wedding is like the biggest party you can imagine.
“I just don’t know what to do. There are too many people in attendance. In the usual case, I barely know anyone. It is awkward just sitting there with strangers at a table. You try to make small talk, but the others are just as reserved in their approach.
“The thing is, I know I will be stuck in that situation for a few hours. Therefore, I try to make the best of it. I force myself to interact, to enjoy a little. I don’t expect any long-term benefits. I know that the satisfaction, if any, will be short-lived.
“I bring up this example to compare with the entire experience of material living. We are in the land of birth and death. As soon as there is birth, death must follow. No one knows exactly when, but eventually the end will arrive.
“There is concern, trepidation, anxiety, fear, and so many other negative emotions experienced throughout the journey. It is really miserable, if you think about it. However, as long as we are stuck here, we might as well try to enjoy.
“Do you see what I am saying? What the spiritual teachers condemn is actually a coping mechanism. That is how I see it. What else are people supposed to do? We are stuck here. It is a miserable situation, but why dwell on the misery?”
As His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains, the contact with matter is the cause of many sufferings. The contact takes place due to an initial desire. It is like begging the parents to buy you a new video game system. They eventually relent. Afterwards, the games cause you so much distress that you wish you were no longer living.
The association is the root cause of the suffering, and the association took place through desire. Material existence is the same way. Simply change desire. Move towards spiritual association and the suffering will change.
As we are indeed in the situation of material existence at the moment, we can find spiritual life through practice. We can attempt spiritual living without waiting until the release from the conditioned state. This is the true purpose to religion.
We practice through a change in consciousness. We alter consciousness through activity, which is otherwise known as karma. The difference with this work is that it is karma-free, in that there are no reactions related to a material body.
One example of work that is practice in the material world for arousing the spiritual consciousness is chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Another way is through reading and hearing. Access sacred texts such as Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam. These are gifts from God preserved over countless generations.
“Since Krishna is the supreme father, His affection for the living entity is eternal. When the living entity falls down into the material world, the Supreme Lord, through His svamsha expansion (Paramatma), keeps company with the living entity. In this way the living entity may some day return home, back to Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.28.53 Purport)
As association with the material is the cause of many sufferings, the link to the Supreme Lord is the cause of repeated enjoyment. The all-attractive one, Shri Krishna, is my only hope for permanent happiness. He is the light at the end of the tunnel. He is the lone reality to this world of illusion, and He will remain my greatest well-wisher into the infinite future, even if I happen to forget Him.
Even in my wildest dreams,
Misery and torture it seems.
Because death spoiler to play,
Destined for destruction’s way.
But possible to change course,
When made aware of the source.
That birth caused by initial desire,
Now for transcendence aspire.