This is a difficult subject to write about. On one hand it’s very simple – we, the fallen souls, envy God’s powers, and so I could go through them one by one, how we want to be as strong, rich, or as famous as Kṛsṇa. Easy, right?
Not so fast. Our envy lies at the heart of our hearts, it’s spiritual in nature, it existed before we were placed in the material world, while all the comparisons with Kṛṣṇa I can make now are based on our current conditioning. We can compare Kṛṣṇa’s strength, for example, to our estimate of how strong Hiraṇyakaśipu was. We can compare His beauty to our current standards of beauty, and so on.
We would also speak of our current, conditioned attitudes to these opulences. We might feel indifferent to fame and so consider ourselves free from that kind of envy. Well, no one is indifferent to fame, ie recognition by fellow human beings, but we might be relatively indifferent to strength or beauty, depending on our gender. None of it addresses our original envy and all of it reflects our false egos.
How can I talk about *my* envy of Kṛṣṇa if it’s based on my false ego? What is truly mine in this case? Articulating our inner heart desires is nay impossible. Even figuring out what is it exactly that we want with Kṛṣṇa is impossible, let along putting it into words.
There’s another problem here, too – we don’t speak from the heart. All the thinking, talking, and typing is done by material bodies and minds which work under the influence of the material nature, ideally engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service but we can never be 100 percent sure about that. Even if they are, they still work under the influence of higher powers, not our inner selves. Kṛṣṇa always censors what we do here, I can’t make a single keystroke without His ultimate permission.
This arrangement is for our benefit, of course, so that we don’t do anything stupid and screw up our spiritual lives through inevitable offenses, but it still means it’s nearly impossible to express our hearts’ desires. Moreover, envy is such a corrupting quality that we should never speak of it in public, it’s contagious, it’s a can of worms that should never be opened.
Holy Name will slowly work its way through layers of dirt and grime in our hearts and, in due course of time, defeat envy, too, but there is a problem with that scenario – our envy is OURS, it’s what we want and Kṛṣṇa would never force us to love Him against our will. The Holy Name would probably only strengthen our determination to confront and challenge Him, because Kṛṣṇa always reciprocates. If that’s how we want to relate to Him, that’s what we get.
Deep meditation on Kṛṣṇa through envy is entirely possible, that’s what Śiśupāla did, as I mentioned yesterday. It should be possible for us, too, we can be totally absorbed in Kṛṣṇa, 24/7 without a break, but it would be relationship of envy, which we can’t even express in material words due to limitations I described above.
Occasionally I get glimpses of that envy, it just flashes in front of me, takes over all of my being for a second or two before my mind gathers itself and my intelligence tells me I can’t indulge myself that way. As I said, I can’t articulate these feelings, can’t classify, qualify, or quantify them. Sometimes they are triggered by clear external factors, though, and in these moments I can sort of understand what really bothers me.
For example, I can’t accept Kṛṣṇa being the only bhoktā, the only enjoyer. I can’t see myself as eternal bhoga, to be enjoyed. I want to be an enjoyer just like Him, within reason, of course. I draw a line between what is His and what could be mine. If I don’t get what I think should be mine my fuse goes off. I can’t accept that everything, including my body and my inner being is meant strictly for Kṛṣṇa’s enjoyment. Nothing is meant for us. Well, the material world is, of course, but that’s not where we want to find ourselves again and again, is it?
From reading about lives of people in the spiritual world it’s easy to imagine them as being legitimate enjoyers, especially on Vaikuṇṭhas. They even get the same form as the Lord there, and all the facilities, including wives and husbands. They just don’t die and don’t suffer – sounds perfect for me.
Or is it false ego talking? Aren’t we all meant for Goloka Vṛndāvana? Isn’t it our spiritual home? Some forcefully insist that for real devotees Vaikuṇṭha is like a living hell, in our sampradāya there shouldn’t be any thoughts of getting Vaikuṇṭha liberation, be it sālokya or sārūpya.
It’s all very nice, but there’s also the reality of our current spiritual predicament. Far from being on Vaikuṇṭha, Kṛṣṇa banned us far away into the depths of the material world, and we shouldn’t think, even for a second, that we didn’t deserve it. This is exactly what we wanted, exactly how far away from Kṛṣṇa we desired to be.
So, even if stripped of our material conditioning, this is still what we want deep in our hearts. Envy is our life and soul. Well, I shouldn’t speak for others but mine clearly is.
Even more – you can’t clap with one hand, if our predicament is the result of our relationships with Kṛṣṇa turning sour then He shares some responsibility for it, too. He did or didn’t do something for us to make us turn away from Him this way. We know for a fact that He can be absolutely heartless, too. He can be colder than death, being the Absolute and all. Just look how He treated His devotees in His own Vṛndāvana. He hooked them up first and then left them wilt and shrivel out of separation from Him for many many years until they died, without relief.
We say that their separation is the highest rasa but we should also admit that it is extremely painful, it’s not a walk in the park.
Perhaps we were just like them but couldn’t pass the test of time and found ourselves different interests, which are better served down here, away from Kṛṣṇa and the associated pain. Now they try to lure us back with promises of eternal bliss. Thank you, but we’ve been there before, and this bliss is not what we understand by bliss in our current material condition.
Important point, however, is that they try to lure us back. We will never make it back to Kṛṣṇa on our own, we need to be dragged back there, kicking and screaming. We will never find enough attraction to Kṛṣṇa in our own hearts to make it all the way across the material ocean. We just don’t have the necessary love for Him, and it won’t arise simply from chanting the Holy Name, for reasons I already mentioned – chanting would only strengthen our existing convictions.
That’s why devotee association is so important – that’s where we can get the taste of real devotion, which we don’t have ourselves. The Holy Name along can’t grant us this taste, unless there’s some special mercy. Love of Kṛṣṇa can be learned only from other devotees.
That’s the only way to overcome our inner, spiritual envy. We have to learn proper relationships with Kṛṣṇa from others, our own having been doomed. We failed in it already, it’s gone, we can’t restore it on our own, Kṛṣṇa wouldn’t listen, we need someone else to bring us back and beg Kṛṣṇa on our behalf.
Good news is that only one eleventh of a second of such association can save us forever. Bad news is that we usually misuse this time on worrying about inconsequential things or try to learn something else from our gurus instead.
Not to despair, chanting will cleanse our hearts from material grime and then it will become easier to take full advantage of association given to us.
Just to reiterate – listening to our hearts in our current state is useless and possibly even dangerous, needs to be ignored in favor of the words of our guru.