We are caught in the material world where we have ourselves, the material energy, and we hope to reunite with the Lord. There’s also Lord’s spiritual energy but it has nothing to do with us atm. Whatever spiritual worlds and opulences it manifests in the spiritual sky is irrelevant to materially conditioned souls. One day it will be of practical interest but not for now. We just read stories about it and that’s all we can do.
They say that Lord and His spiritual attributes, Name, form, activities, paraphernalia etc are non-different from Him. This is not exactly true – they are simultaneously one and different and we can’t understand how it actually works, not while we are under material illusion.
The Yogamāyā potency of the Lord is clearly a different entity but as she is fully spiritual it looks and feels non-different to us. Lord Balarāma manifests lots of Kṛṣṇa’s accessories and they are clearly different from Kṛṣṇa Himself but to us they are all spiritual and we’d be completely bedazzled by contact with Kṛṣṇa’s slippers just as we’d be bedazzled by the glimpse of His lotus feet.
So, let’s leave those esoteric topics alone and talk about what we see in the “real” world.
Here it’s just us, the matter, and the invisible and imperceptible Lord. We know how this triangle looks from our corner and nearly all the scriptures explain it with our angle in mind. This is all very well but as devotees our goal is to serve the Lord and so we need to learn how it all looks from His perspective. What pleases Him, what makes Him frown, what keeps Him indifferent, what aggravates Him etc etc.
Here we run into a danger of anthropomorphism. We tend to project ourselves onto the Lord. Whatever feels good to us must be appreciated by Kṛṣṇa. Whatever angers us must anger Kṛṣṇa, too. You can see it in religious debates all the time. Atheists usually cite anthropomorphism against the believers but actually they are just as guilty of projecting their own attitudes onto the Absolute.
Of course their version of the Absolute does not include God but partial aspects of the Absolute Truth are still worshiped – logic, rationality, knowledge, power, even opulence (not so much renunciation, though). They never see themselves that way but that’s their problem. We should immediately note that they hold their atheism in high regard because it brings wealth and prosperity, as it does in the West, and because it gives them power over the nature. Some are also attracted by the beauty of the universe. Beauty is one of the qualities of the Bhagavan, too, and that’s why it’s so attractive.
Atheists then imagine themselves a perfectly rational world based on knowledge and that’s where they project their personal feelings of good and bad, moral and immoral, just and unjust. Of course they think that their feelings are not emotional but rational and can be explained and accepted by everybody but that never happens because sooner or later all materialistic logic fails. Inevitably it turns out that the world cannot accommodate everyone’s desires, not in Kali Yuga, and no matter how hard you explain there will always be people with opposing views and a different set of “facts” to justify them.
But I wasn’t going to talk about atheists today. The point was that we assume Kṛṣṇa feels about things just like we do, but that is not always the case. We are conditioned beings acting out against our self-interest, why would Kṛṣṇa ever care what we think and agree with us on anything? As devotees we get our brains somewhat straightened but not in full yet. We think that as devotees what we feel is “spiritual” and therefore indicative of Kṛṣṇa’s desires, too, but good luck to those who want to untangle spiritual from material in lives of miśra-bhakti devotees.
The best way is to look at the world through the eyes of śāstra but, as I said, for our own benefit śāstra often explains the world as it looks from our corner and therefore even śāstra’s explanations warrant further investigation.
How does it feel to the Lord?
He creates the material world both for His own and for our pleasure. Kṛṣṇa, however, doesn’t create matter. We know that Mahā-Viṣṇu does but other accounts say that it’s actually Sādaśīva who impregnates total material energy and gets the world going. I reconcile this for myself by accepting that it could be simply different names for the same person used according to pastimes and activities.
Either way, Kṛṣṇa does not enjoy material energy in any shape or form. The Supersoul within our hearts is also completely free from any interest in material enjoyment. Unlike us, He doesn’t identify Himself with matter and therefore doesn’t feel for it. We watch other people doing things and we absorb their attitudes and values. We empathize, rejoice, or get aroused when watching other people’s lust. The Supersoul doesn’t fall for any of that. Like.., completely.
We think He’d appreciate this or that and disapprove of those other things but He is totally indifferent. We appeal to God for justice but forget that He does not have the same concept of justice as we do, not even close. When we condemn things like pedophilia we think that the Lord would be surely on our side, just as gays think God cannot possibly be against their gay marriages.
We think that some things in this world are fully deserved while others aren’t and therefore in need of correction, and we appeal to the Lord to put the universe in order. He surely must feel as strongly about it as we do, especially if we consider ourselves as devotees. And yet He doesn’t care.
For Him, everything is perfect already and, if we think about it, it can’t be any other way. He is God, He has all His desires immediately fulfilled to His complete satisfaction. We might not serve Him very well but His divine energies never fail. All imperfections, therefore, are only in our imagination. We want the world to be corrected to better serve us, not the Lord, who is fine with it as it is.
And yet it is also said that the Lord is very partial to His devotees. How could that be? He is either equanimous or partial, there should be no contradiction, and there isn’t, but we have to find a way to explain it.
The universe is never completely separated from the Lord. Kṛṣṇa Himself appears here from time to time and this means that parts of the universe serve Him directly. This means that He is not impartial to events surrounding His personal presence here. Devotees are parts of that experience and therefore Kṛṣṇa finds their activities pleasurable even in the material world.
Or, to put it another way – devotees’ service is NOT part of the material world but part of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, even if only connection is remembrance. Pure memories of the Lord are still fully spiritual. One day Kṛṣṇa danced on the heads of Kāliya serpent. The story was then written in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, eventually appeared in the Kṛṣṇa Book and given to us by devotees, now we remember it from time to time, and Kṛṣṇa still appreciates it. It’s not a material experience, it’s a reflection, however faint and distorted, of Kṛṣṇa own pastime. That’s what Kṛṣṇa likes about it.
The way the pastimes get deposited in our heads is kind of “material” and the reaction of our minds to them is “material”, too, but the souls who get to experience this part of the “material” world are called devotees.
Kṛṣṇa still retains His equanimity towards us as spirit souls but when the material energy engages in His glorification He is still flattered. We, as spirit souls, are lucky to be there when these stories flash through our brains. It doesn’t mean that whatever we enjoy for ourselves gets the same reception from the Lord.
He appreciates whatever pure devotees do but they never do anything for their own pleasure and are only put in situations where material energy manifests some form of service. Pure devotees are still not doers of anything, they are not little gods, just like us they are here to observe and desire. The only external difference is that material energy puts them in bodies and places connected with Kṛṣṇa, that’s all. I’m not going to speculate on their internal spiritual life.
Sometimes we don’t understand how their certain engagements could be possibly connected to the Lord but that’s our problem. If we had sufficient purity ourselves we would learn to look past it anyway.
We’d better busy ourselves with trying to learn how to please the Lord instead of asking Him to do things according to our illusory desires. He has no interest in that no matter how much service we think we’ve rendered to deserve fulfillment of our wishes. The moment we start thinking of ourselves He switches His attention off and becomes impartial, and the cold and impersonal material energy takes over. Good news is that He does not resent us for that and patiently waits for the return of our service attitude.