I’ve been alluding to this subject in the past so it deserves its own post. The gist of it is that all that we have in our lives is our relationship with Krishna, the Absolute Truth, and our apparent lack of devotion or spiritual progress is not an actual lack of anything, it’s just that Krishna reciprocates with us according to our tastes.
We could have been gopis of Vrindavana, or Krishna’s friends, or His uncles and aunts, but we don’t like to relate to Him that way, we don’t have a taste for it, we have a taste for associating with God through His external energy instead.
In that sense we are not very different from materialists, they also relate to the Absolute Truth through His external aspect. They like to lord over Lord’s property and they are given facilities to do just that. Some of them hate to be reminded that it’s all God’s property but we have no problem with that, that’s the only difference. Actually, when we know we enjoy Krishna’s mercy it kind of tastes better but it’s still our enjoyment.
Looking at interests and aspirations of various devotees one can easily see what they want in their lives. Some want to be respectable members of our community, some want to be seen as charitable, some want to be leaders, some want to be scholars whose advice is appreciated by everybody else. Some want to be mediators and try to reconcile every argument we have among ourselves. Some want to be known as strict followers, some want to be known as liberals who concentrate on the essence of Krishna consciousness rather than on external appearances and rules.
Some have an insatiable desire to correct everybody else, some want to search for errors and point them out for everybody to see, some want to blame others for betraying Prabhupada, some want to win every argument and always have a last word, some want to be seen as repositories of devotion, some revel in their powers, some prefer to sit all the battles out, betting that the little guy in the back will get Krishna’s mercy first.
Some want to be faithful husbands, some want to be perfect fathers, some want to be renunciates, some want to enjoy their senses for a little while longer. Some are concerned about their health and dietary supplements, some are into yoga, some are into books and others live their lives on the internet. Some fight for purity, some fight for broadmindedness, some want to preach, some want to live in Vrindavana and some can’t leave western creature comforts.
Some want to serve the Deities, some want to serve the Name, some like everything Indian, some hate Hinduism taking over ISKCON. Some are into kirtans, some are into bhajans, others prefer mantra weaved into a western music. Some want to give inspirational classes, some like to tell stories, some like to quote shastra, some like to quote movies….
The amazing thing is that Krishna reciprocates with everyone.
The big question is, however – is any of this stuff really tasty? We know that it is nothing compared to spiritual rasa, but we also don’t know any better. Why? Because we like our attachments to this stuff, and because we need time to lose interest in it. What happens next? Hopefully we’ll find some interests closer to Krishna.
I don’t know why but I can see so many devotees forgetting that real bhakti is sarva-upādhi-vinirmuktam – free from all material designations. This means we will not get even a drop of bhakti as long as we yearn for the above mentioned material positions.
It all has to be abandoned. Our “face”, our families, our careers, our means of livelihood, our health, our prestige, our experience, our wisdom, our intelligence, our estimates of our devotion – all has to go.
The good news is that even if we get a drop of real service to Krishna, a drop of real bhakti, our taste in the above mentioned things will disappear like a distant memory.
The fact is – there’s no perfect position for us in this world. Whatever we temporarily perceive as a safe haven, even if it’s hidden in the shade of the lotus feet of our guru, it’s an upadha, an external designation that will never satisfy the soul. Our guru comes to save us from this world, not to provide us a safe place here.
Our real business, our real interests, our real tastes lie in the spiritual realm and nothing of this world can replicate it. Give it up, there’s more to Krishna than this.
Our search for higher taste should never ever stop, not until we return to our original spiritual identity.
PS. Just because devotees do all those things it doesn’t mean they are really into it. We all have to live out our karma, but there are people who are really attached to it and those are the ones who are missing the higher taste.