Krishna consciousness is Yoga in Action
When the yogi, by practice of yoga, disciplines his mental activities and becomes situated in Transcendence–devoid of all material desires–he is said to have attained yoga. (Bhagavad-gita 6.18)
A person practicing Krishna consciousness is a yogi and he is different from an ordinary person. An ordinary person is on the bodily platform, he thinks that he is his material body and he believes by satisfying the senses of his material body he will become happy. This is called maya or ‘that which is not’ or illusion.
The conception, that one is his material body, is a mistake, an illusion. So the ordinary person, bewildered by this illusion of maya, works very, very hard to get things that will satisfy his senses in the mistaken belief that if he satisfies his senses he will be happy.
The problem is the ordinary person does not know he is not the material body, but the spirit soul within the body, and that satisfying the demands of the senses of the material body has no connection whatsoever with satisfying his actual self, the spirit soul.
It is something like if the driver of a motor car identifies with the car and begins to think he is the car and forgets about his own needs and works only to satisfy the needs of the motor car. The car needs petrol and oil and other things. So if the driver identifies with the car, thinking the car to be himself, and simply works to supply the petrol and oil the car needs, then he will starve himself. He has made a great mistake. He is not the motor car and satisfying the needs of the motor car will not satisfy himself.
So the ordinary person in the material world is like this, he misidentifies his self as his body and he simply works very hard to try and obtain things that will satisfy the senses of his body. These bodily needs are summarized as: eating, sleeping, mating and defending. So ordinary people are completely consumed by trying to arrange to feed themselves and their families nicely, to get a nice house to sleep and have sex in, and to defend themselves and the things they have. These are simply the needs of the material body, but we are not the material body, we are the spirit soul within the material body, just like the driver within the car.
Although the devotees also have material bodies and have to maintain them (so they can use them to serve Krishna) they do not identify with their material bodies. They know they are not the material body but the spirit soul within the body and are aware the food for the spirit soul is hearing and chanting about Krishna and honoring Krishna prasadam and engaging the body in devotional service under the direction of a pure devotee of Krishna.
So the activities of the devotee or yogi are distinguished from those of an ordinary person because they are not disturbed by any material desires–of which sex is the chief. A perfect yogi is so well disciplined in the activities of the mind that he can no longer be disturbed by any kind of material desire. This perfectional stage can automatically be attained by persons in Krishna consciousness, as is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam(9.4.18-20):
“King Ambarisa first of all engaged his mind on the lotus feet of Lord Krsna; then, one after another, he engaged his words in describing the transcendental qualities of the Lord, his hands in mopping the temple of the Lord, his ears in hearing of the activities of the Lord, his eyes in seeing the transcendental forms of the Lord, his body in touching the bodies of the devotees, his sense of smell in smelling the scents of the lotus flower offered to the Lord, his tongue in tasting the tulasi leaf offered at the lotus feet of the Lord, his legs in going to places of pilgrimage and the temple of the Lord, his head in offering obeisances unto the Lord and his desires in executing the mission of the Lord. All these transcendental activities are quite befitting a pure devotee.”
This transcendental stage may be impossible for the followers of the impersonalist path to achieve, but it becomes very easy and practical for a person in Krishna consciousness, as is apparent in the above description of the engagements of Maharaja Ambarisa. Unless the mind is fixed on the lotus feet of the Lord by constant remembrance, such transcendental engagements are not practical. In the devotional service of the Lord, therefore, these prescribed activities are called arcana, or engaging all the senses in the service of the Lord.
The senses and the mind require engagements. It is not possible to simply stop activities. Therefore, for people in general–especially those who are not in the renounced order of life–engagement of the senses and the mind as described above is the perfect process for transcendental achievement, which is called yukta in the Bhagavad-gita.
Although it is relatively easy to understand, in theory, that we are not the material body but the spirit soul within the body, this theoretical understanding will not be sufficient to enable us to control the senses and to free us from the disturbance of material attachments.
To become truly transcendental to the desires of our material senses we have to engage those senses in the service of Krishna. It is not possible to give up activities, it is not possible to stop the mind from thinking about and meditating on things. The impersonalists try to make the mind ‘still’ and try to stop activities. But they always fail in the end because both the mind and the senses are active by nature and any attempt to supress this activity is artificial and will not last.
For example you can force a basketball to stay under the water with your hands. But it will not stay there by itself. You have to exert a constant force and as soon as you slacken that force the basketball will pop up and float on the top of the water again… So artificial repression of the senses is like that. A person can understand it is bad not to have illicit sex for example, and he can believe in this, and he can force himself to avoid such activities. But without positive service, positive engagement in Krishna consciousness his attempts to repress his sex desire are just like trying to hold that basketball under the water. As soon as he becomes a little weak and loosens his hold a little that basketball is going to pop up again and float on top of the water.
So the secret to controlling the senses is, as we see in the example of Maharaja Ambrisa above, to engage all the senses in the service of Krishna. And the most important sense we have to engage is the tongue. The tongue has two activities: vibrating and tasting. If we can limit the tongue to only vibrating Krishna katha, only talking about Krishna, and limit it to only tasting Krishna prasadam, foodstuffs cooked by devotees with love and offered to Krishna, then automatically we will be able to control our other senses.
It is a great science and there are other points also but the most important principle is the senses can not be controlled simply by repression. The senses need some positive engagement in Krishna consciousness. Therefore devotional service, activities which engage our senses in real work under the direction of the bona fide spiritual master for the pleasure of Krishna, are required.
If we can keep all our senses constantly engaged in the service of Krishna then there will be no time left for serving maya. Therefore we have to aim to be engaged in serving Krishna, hearing about Krishna, chanting Hare Krishna, reading Prabhupada’s books, etc., 24 hours a day. Because, as the Christian’s say: “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” And that is very true actually. In reality we are all eternally servants. We have no option but to serve. And we can only choose between serving Krishna and serving maya. So if we are not serving Krishna we are serving maya. There is no third option…
So we need to come to the platform of serving Krishna 24 hours a day…