—by Subal das Adhikari
Maya, the illusory material nature, is duping people into accepting lust in place of love. Lust is what traps the living entities, who are spiritual by nature, in this material world. It makes us accept temporary mixed happiness in place of eternal spiritual bliss. Through the attraction of the senses for the objects of the senses we try to enjoy and find happiness where there is no happiness. Therefore, we are forced to take our births again and again.
In the Vedit literature Caitanya-caritamrta, the author, Krsna-das Kaviraj, defines lust and love as follows: “Lust means to satisfy the senses of this body, and love means to satisfy Krsna’s [God’s] senses.” Real love is selfless and has no other object than pleasing the beloved. The thought of selfish pleasure never enters into this. All thoughts are directed towards the pleasure of the beloved. It will go on growing regardless of whether it is reciprocated or even if our beloved spurns us, or any other factors which cause the ending of love in the material world. Lord Caitanya prays to the Supreme Lord as follows: “I do not know anyone except Krsna as my Lord and He shall remain my Lord even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything, but He is always my worshipful Lord, unconditionally.”
Love exists in the spiritual world in its pure and perfect form. The Bhagavad-gita states that this world is a perverted reflection of the Spiritual World. It is natural for the living entities to love Krsna, but due to maya, the illusory energy, they are accepting something else in place of the greatest. Krsna is offering us unlimited pleasure, but in ignorance we are taking the temporary sense pleasures as the all in all.
The practice of Krsna consciousness revives the dormant love of God that is within each of us; once that love is tasted, all the illusory substitutes fall away. Love in the material world is misdirected, generally having a false idea of oneself as its object. Krsna consciousness redirects that love to Krsna, the real Beloved of everyone. As we are all eternally parts and parcels of the whole Spirit, Krsna, loving Him is our actual self-interest. When Lord Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, was Personally present and walked the earth planet 5,000 years ago, He displayed wonderful Childhood and Youthful Pastimes in Vrndavana, where He attracted all living entities to His blissful nature. The residents of the village He lived in, who saw Him daily, were madly in love with Krsna. Sukadeva Gosvami, the sage who first spoke the Srimad-Bhagavatam (narration of Krsna’s Pastimes), was asked by his disciple, “Why was Krsna so dear to everyone in Vrndavana, more so than the natural sons of the mothers and fathers?” Sukadeva answered this question: “Because Krsna is the Soul of all souls.” He is therefore factually the most dear, and loving Him is ultimate self-interest. Without Him, all life ceases.
Humans and the lower animals have four common activities that are necessary for maintaining the body—namely, eating, sleeping, mating and defending. But the humans have a higher intelligence and more developed consciousness than the animals. The human form of life is meant for searching out higher truths. Until a person starts asking questions—”What am I?” “What is the purpose of life?” “What is God?”—he is no better than the animals. Most people are simply engaged in satisfying the four animal propensities without any concern for spiritual development. This is a complete waste of a most valuable life.
The Vedic literature describes that there are 8,400,000 species of life, and only 400,000 species are of the human form. Before attaining this human form, we have passed through all other 8,400,000 species. This is known as transmigration of the soul. As we progress higher and higher through the various species of life beginning from the aquatics, to the plants, worms, reptiles, birds and beasts, our consciousness slowly develops just like a flower. The flower starts out as a small bud. Gradually it blossoms forth, until it is finally full-blown. The aquatics have a very limited consciousness, and this consciousness expands as we progress to higher and higher species of life. The human form is compared with the fully developed flower. Only in the human form of life can we escape from the cycle of birth and death known as samsara, and revive our loving relationship with Krsna. This is the perfection of human life—love of God. If we can attain such purified consciousness then we are fit to be transferred beyond all these material universes to enter the kingdom of God on eternal, blissful spiritual planets in the spiritual sky. Unfortunately no one today is serious about ending samsara; they do not think there is a next life or eternal planets, and so they feel they are “free” to beg, borrow or steal and there will be no reaction to sinful activities. But the fact is that by our present actions we are determining our future, next birth. As far as the lover of God or pure devotee is concerned, however, he is not even aspiring after liberation from samsara. In his unalloyed devotion, he finds the highest bliss in selfless loving service, simply carrying out Krsna’s wish as expressed through the spiritual master. Again Lord Caitanya prayed: “Oh almighty Lord! I have no desire for accumulating wealth, nor have I any desire to enjoy beautiful women, nor do I want many followers. What I want only is that I may have Your causeless devotional service in my life, birth after birth.”
The animals have much easier access to sense enjoyment than we do. This is because the animals are meant for unrestricted sense pleasure. We are not. We are meant for spiritual development. The dogs will have sex right out on the street in front of everyone. Is this what we want our society to develop into?
Krsna consciousness recognizes the necessity of eating, sleeping, mating and defending, but these activities should be restricted and simplified in order to leave time and energy for spiritual pursuits. This body is a vehicle for going back to Godhead, back to home. Therefore, we should treat it as such. For example, if we have an automobile, we have to keep it operating nicely so it will get us where we want to go, but we don’t want to spend all our time polishing it. The vehicle is there to serve us, not for us to serve it. The Bhagavad-gita states: “He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the Yoga system.” (Bhagavad-gita, 6.17)
According to the varnasrama system, a man’s life is divided into four parts: student, householder, retired and renounced orders of life. The student’s life is the first part. It is meant for creating a spirit of detachment through knowledge, renunciation and devotion. During this period, the student remains celibate, studies under the spiritual master and serves him. For those who fail to develop sufficient detachment during tht first stage, the second stage is householder, or married life. Sex is allowed under certain restrictions, and a sense of detachment is also present. The third stage is the retired life. During this period the householder leaves home to prepare himself for complete detachment. The wife can accompany him as a voluntary servant, but there is no more sex life. The renounced order of life is the final stage. When the man becomes fully detached from sex life, he sends his wife home to be taken care of by the oldest son, and he becomes a mendicant. Also, those students who did not enter married life go directly to this stage. Of course, sex life is forbidden for the mendicant also.
We can see that sex is only allowed under certain restricted conditions. It is advised that this system be practiced by all civilized men for spiritual attainment. It is a gradual process for giving up attachment to the sense pleasures and developing attachment to Krsna.
An example is given wherein the sensualist is compared to the camel. The camel is a desert animal, and it relishes eating thorny twigs. The thorns cut the camel’s tongue and there is discharge of blood. The camel thinks he is eating a very tasty twig, but actually it is the taste of his own blood that he is enjoying. We are also tasting our own blood and thinking how nice it is by indulging in sex and various other sense pleasures. This material world is actually a prison house. We should be working towards getting free and entering into the real life that waits for us outside the prison boundaries. In the spiritual world, we can enjoy this life of freedom which is sac-cid-ananda—eternal, blissful, and full of knowledge. As long as we are attached to the temporary pleasures of this world, however, we cannot enter into the spiritual world. The more we indulge in material sense pleasures the longer we prolong our term of imprisonment and deny ourselves eternal bliss.
We all want to enjoy, to be lords of the material nature, but constitutionally we are not enjoyers. We are secondary enjoyers. We enjoy by serving Krsna, the Supreme Enjoyer. Serving Krsna is like pouring water on the roots of a tree. By watering the leaves and branches of a tree, there will be no effect; but when water is given to the root, all the leaves and branches of the tree are satisfied.
Everyone is looking for some happiness, some pleasure and enjoyment. This is true even in the animal society. We all want happiness because it is our nature to be happy and joyful. We are not meant to undergo sufferings, but we are suffering because we are trapped in the material world and identifying with these material bodies. There is real happiness to be found. We simply do not know where to find it. Therefore, we are accepting so many substitutes. Real happiness waits for us in the spiritual world. It is pure unalloyed bliss with no trace of suffering. By accepting the authority of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, as handed down in disciplic succession by Sri Krsna, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Rupa Gosvami, Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati, and A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, one can easily become a liberated person and attain spiritual bliss.
Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure, but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way, the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme. An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery which are due to contact with the material senses, O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them. (Bhagavad-gita, 5.21-22)
The Gita describes the goal:
Before giving up the present body, if one is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses and check the force of desire and anger, he is a yogi and is happy in this world. One whose happiness is within, who is active within, is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme. (Bhagavad-gita, 5.23-24)
Transcendentalists who have had a taste of spiritual bliss cast aside the temporary, mixed pleasures of this world. They are no longer attracted by them because they have found the real, superior quality pleasure. Indulging in sex life is like chewing the chewed. The example is given that, in India, the people eat sugar cane. They chew on it and suck out the sweet juice. Then the chewed cane is thrown in the street. Nobody wants it anymore. Similarly, we’ve been chewing on the material pleasures for millions of lifetimes. But there is really no juice there, just the same thing, over and over again. The intelligent man will see that they are tasteless and cast these “pleasures” aside. Why go on chewing the chewed? Unlimited happiness awaits us in loving service unto the Transcendental Absolute, Sri Krsna.