But I don’t love Krishna?
I know we are searching for pleasure but material pleasure can not satisfy us because it is temporary and very insignificant. And I know that real pleasure can be experienced by serving Krishna in love and devotion. But I have no love for Krishna?
The problem is generally we are still very much attached to material pleasure, we are still trying to satisfy the demands of our senses for nice food, nice women, lots of money, fame, power, profit, adoration, etc. Because we have no love for Krishna our minds are full of material desires and we are spending our time and energy trying to satisfy the demands of our senses.
So what to do? Of course this is natural. We may theoretically understand that there is no point in pursuing material sense gratification, but without a higher taste, without experiencing at least some transcendental pleasure from serving Krishna, we will continue to be attached to the animalistic demands of our material body and mind for eating, sleeping, mating and defending.
In this condition, being attached to sense gratification, we have no taste, no attraction to Krishna consciousness. We do not like to chant Hare Krishna, it is not attractive to us. That is because we are in a diseased condition of life. We are suffering from the material disease. We are like a man suffering from the jaundice disease. We don’t have much experience of this disease in the west but one symptom of the jaundice disease is that the patient looses his taste for sweet things. If you give a man with jaundice some sugar candy it will taste bitter to him so he does not like to eat it, he has no taste for it. But it so happens that the cure for the jaundice disease is taking sweet things. So as the jaundice patient forces himself to eat sweet things, which he does not like to eat because they taste bitter to him due to the disease, gradually his disease is cured and he can again appreciate the sweet tastes of things. We are in the same condition, we are suffering from the material disease and as a result we have not taste, no attraction for Krishna consciousness. We don’t feel any transcendental pleasure in chanting Hare Krishna, but just as the sweet things like the sugar candy are the cure for jaundice and the patient forces himself to eat them even though he dislikes that taste, chanting Hare Krishna is the cure for the material disease and if we want to be cured from the material disease we have to force ourselves to chant the Hare Krishna mantra even though we have no taste for it, we don’t like it, it tastes bitter to us.
Cleaning the Contaminated Heart of Material Desires:
So this is how we can develop love for Krishna. We have to force ourselves to chant Hare Krishna, even though we have no taste for chanting Hare Krishna. In our current state our consciousness is contaminated, covered by the dirt of the reactions to the unlimited sinful activities we have performed in unlimited births in the material world. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu likens such a contaminated mind to a dirty mirror. If you can imagine that you have a mirror that is caked over with layers and layers of mud then in that contaminated condition you can not see yourself in that mirror. First you have to clean off all the layers of mud from the mirror, then you will be able to see your true reflection in the mirror. Lord Caitanya uses the words “ceto darpanam marjanam” in his famous prayer, Siksastakam:
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam
“All glories to the Sri Krishna sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This sankirtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.”
Marjanam means “cleanse,” and darpanam means “mirror.” The heart is a mirror. It is like a camera. Just as a camera takes all kinds of pictures of days and nights, so also our heart takes pictures and keeps them in an unconscious state. Psychologists know this. The heart takes so many pictures, and therefore it becomes covered. We do not know when it has begun, but it is a fact that because there is material contact, our real identity is covered. Therefore ceto-darpana-marjanam: one has to cleanse his heart. There are different processes to cleanse the heart—the jnana process, the yoga process, the meditation process, pious activities. Karma also cleanses the heart. If one acts very piously, his heart will gradually be cleansed. But although these processes are recommended for cleansing the heart, in this age they are all difficult.
To follow the path of philosophical knowledge one must become a very learned scholar, one must read so many books, one must go to learned professors and scholars and speculate. One must search out a person who has seen the light. So these are all philosophical processes.
Meditation is also a recommended process. One should question, “What am I?” Just consider: Am I this body? No. Am I this finger? No, this is my finger. If you contemplate your leg, you will see, “Oh, this is my leg.” Similarly, you will find everything to be “mine.” And where is that “I”? Everything is mine, but where is that “I”? When one is searching for that “I,” that is meditation. Real meditation means concentrating all the senses in that way. But that meditation process is very difficult. One must control the senses. The senses are dragging one outward, and one has to bring them inward for introspection. Therefore there are eight processes in the yoga system. The first is controlling the senses by regulative principles. Then sitting postures—that will help to concentrate the mind. If one sits leaning over, that will not help; if one sits up straight, that will help. Then controlling the breathing, then meditation, then samadhi. But today these are very, very difficult processes. No one can immediately perform them. The so-called yoga processes are fragmental—only the sitting postures and a few breathing exercises are practiced. But that cannot bring one to the perfectional stage. The actual yoga process, although a recommended Vedic process, is very difficult in this age.
Similarly one can try to get knowledge by the speculative philosophical process: “This is Brahman, this is not Brahman, so what is Brahman? What is spirit soul?” Such empiric philosophical discussion is also recommended, but it is useless in this age.
The Only Way in this Age is Chanting Hare Krishna:
Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu—not only Caitanya Mahaprabhu but also the Vedic literature—says:
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
Kalau means “in this age.” Nasty eva, nasty eva, nasty eva—three times nasty eva. Eva means “certainly,” and nasti means “not.” “Certainly not, certainly not, certainly not.” What is that “certainly not”? One cannot realize oneself by karma. That is the first “certainly not.” One cannot realize oneself by jnana. That is the second “certainly not.” One cannot realize oneself by yoga. Certainly not. Kalau. Kalau means “in this age.” Kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha. In this age one certainly cannot achieve success by any of these three methods. Then what is the recommended process? Harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam. Simply chant the Hare Krishna mantra. Kevalam means “only.” Simply chant Hare Krishna. It is the easiest and most sublime process. This is recommended, practical, and authorized. So take it. Accept it in any condition of life. Chant. There is no expenditure, there is no loss. We are not chanting a secret. No. It is open. And by chanting you will cleanse your heart.
The Problems of the Material World Can Not Be Solved:
In this material world no one wants misery, but it comes. Unexpectedly, like a forest fire that starts without anyone’s striking a match, it comes. No one wants a war, but war is fought. No one wants famine, but famine comes. No one wants pestilence, but it comes. No one wants fighting, but there is fighting. No one wants misunderstanding, but there is. Why? This is like a blazing fire in the forest. And it cannot be extinguished by fire engines. This blazing fire of problems cannot be extinguished by our so-called advancement of knowledge. No. That is not possible, Just as one cannot extinguish a forest fire by sending a fire engine or by bringing some water, the problems of our life cannot be solved by material processes.
There are many examples. Prahlada Maharaja says, “My dear Lord, the father and mother are not actually the protectors of the children.” The father and mother take care of their children; that is their duty. But they are not the ultimate protectors. When nature’s law calls the child, the father and mother cannot protect him. Therefore although generally it is considered a fact that the father and mother are the protectors of the child, actually it is not a fact. If someone is sailing the ocean and he thinks he has a very nice seat, will that protect him? No. Still he may drown. A nice airplane is flying in the sky, everyone is safe, but all of a sudden it crashes. Nothing material can protect us. Suppose someone is diseased. He may engage a good physician who gives good medicine, but that will not guarantee that he will live. Then what is the ultimate guarantee? Prahlada Maharaja says, “My dear Lord, if You neglect someone, nothing can protect him.”
This is our practical experience. We can invent so many methods to solve the problems presented by the laws of material nature, but they are not sufficient. They will never solve all the problems, nor will they give actual relief. This is the fact. Therefore Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, “Maya, this external energy, is very, very strong. No one can surpass it. It is almost impossible.” Then how can one get free from this material nature? Krsna says, “Simply by surrendering unto Me one can get relief from the onslaught of material nature.” That is a fact. So we have to cleanse the heart to learn what is our relationship with God.
In the Katha Upanisad it is stated, nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam. The Supreme Absolute Personality of Godhead, or the Absolute Truth, is eternal. God is eternal, and we are also eternal. But the Vedas indicate that He is the supreme living creature. He is not dead. If He is not living, how is this world working? In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says, “Under My supervision things are going on.” In the Bible also it is said, “God created.” That is a fact. Not that at one time there was a chunk and then this happened and then that. No.
We Have to Open Our Eyes To See:
The Vedas tell us the actual facts, but we have to open our eyes to see. Ceto-darpana-marjanam. That is the process of cleansing our hearts. When we cleanse our hearts, then we will be able to understand what Krishna and the Vedas say. We need to be purified. If a man is suffering from jaundice and you give him a piece of sugar candy, he will say that it is very bitter. But is sugar candy bitter? No, it is very sweet. And the medicine for jaundice is that sugar. Modern science prescribes this, and it is prescribed in the Vedic literature also. So if we take a great quantity of this sugar candy, then we will be relieved from jaundice. And when there is relief, then one says, “Oh, this is very sweet.” So the modern jaundice of a godless civilization can be cured by this chanting of Hare Krishna. In the beginning it may appear bitter, but when one advances, then he will see how pleasing it is.
As soon as one understands his identity, his relationship with God, then immediately he becomes happy. We are so full of miseries because we have identified ourselves with the material world. Therefore we are unhappy. Anxieties and fearfulness are due to our misidentifying with the material world. The other day I was explaining that one who identifies with this bag of bones and skin is like an animal. So by chanting Hare Krishna this misunderstanding will be cleansed. Cleansing of the heart means that one will understand that he does not belong to this material world. Aham brahmasmi: I am spirit soul. As long as one identifies oneself with England, with India, or with America, this is ignorance. Today you are an Englishman because you were born in England, but in your next life you may not take your birth in England; it may be in China or Russia or some other country. Or you may not get this human form of body. Today you are a nationalist, you are a very great follower of your country, but tomorrow if you stay in your country you may be a cow being taken to the slaughterhouse.
So we have to thoroughly know our identity. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that the actual identity of every living creature is that he is the eternal servant of God. If one thinks like that—”I am no one else’s servant; my business is to serve God”—then he is liberated. His heart is immediately cleansed, and he is liberated. And after one has reached that, then all one’s cares and anxieties in this world are over because one knows, “I am a servant of God. God will give me protection. Why should I worry about anything?” It is just like a child. A child knows that his mother and father will take care of him. He is free. If he should go to touch fire, his mother will take care of him: “Oh, my dear child, don’t touch.” The mother is always looking after him. So why don’t you put your trust in God? Actually, you are under the protection of God.
God is Supplying Us With Everything:
People go to church and say, “God, give us our daily bread.” Actually, if He did not give it to us, we would not be able to live. That is a fact. The Vedas also say that the one Supreme Personality supplies all the necessities of every other living creature. God is supplying food for everyone. We human beings have our economic problem, but what economic problem is there in societies other than human society? The bird society has no economic problem. It is only the human society that has created problems—what to eat, where to sleep, how to mate, how to defend. These are a problem to us, but the majority of creatures—the aquatics, the fish, the plants, the insects, the birds, the beasts, and the many millions upon millions of other living creatures—do not have such a problem. They are also living creatures. Don’t think that they are different from us. It is not true that we human beings are the only living creatures and that all others are dead. No. And who is providing their food and shelter? It is God. The plants and animals are not going to the office. They are not going to the university to get technological education to earn money. So how are they eating? God is supplying. The elephant eats hundreds of pounds of food. Who is supplying? Are you making arrangements for the elephant? There are millions of elephants. Who is supplying?
So the process of acknowledging that God is supplying is better than thinking, “God is dead. Why should we go to church and pray to God for bread?” In the Bhagavad-gita it is said, “Four kinds of people come to Krishna: the distressed, those who are in need of money, the wise, and the inquisitive.” One who is inquisitive, one who is wise, one who is distressed, and one who is in need of money—these four classes of men approach God. “My dear God, I am very hungry. Give me my daily bread.” That’s nice. Those who approach God in this way are pious. Although they are asking for money, for food, they are considered pious because they are approaching God. And others are just the opposite. They are impious.
Understanding Our Relationship With God:
The gross materialists who ignore their relationship with God are described in the Bhagavad-gita as asses, donkeys. Those who are working very, very hard to earn money are compared to the donkey. They will eat the same four slices of bread daily, but they are unnecessarily working to earn thousands of dollars. And others are described as “the lowest of mankind.” The human form of life is meant for God realization. It is the right of man to try to realize God. One who understands Brahman, God, is a brahmana, not others. So that is the duty of this human form of life.
In every human society there is some system that is called “religion” and by which one may try to understand God. It doesn’t matter whether it is the Christian religion, the Muhammadan religion, or the Hindu religion. It doesn’t matter. The system is to understand God and our relationship with Him. That’s all. This is the duty of the human beings, and if this duty is ignored in human society, then it is animal society. Animals have no power to understand what is God and their relationship with God. Their only interests are eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. If we are only concerned with these things, then what are we? We are animals. Therefore the Bhagavad-gita says that those who ignore this opportunity are the “lowest of mankind.” They were born in the material world in the human form of life yet did not utilize it for God realization but simply for the animal propensities. Therefore they are the lowest of mankind. And there are other persons who are very proud of their knowledge. But what is that knowledge? “There is no God. I am God.” Their actual knowledge has been taken away by maya. If they are God, then how have they become dog? There are so many arguments against them, but they simply defy God. Atheism. Because they have taken to the process of atheism, their actual knowledge is stolen away. Actual knowledge means to know what is God and our relationship with God. If one does not know this, then it is to be understood that his knowledge has been taken away by maya.
So in this way, if we try to understand our relationship with God, there are ways and means. There are books, and there is knowledge, so why not take advantage of them? Everyone should take advantage of this knowledge. Try to understand that in the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic literatures, everywhere, it is said that God is great and that although we are qualitatively one with God, we are minute. The ocean and the minute particle of water have the same quality, but the quantity of salt in the drop of water and the quantity of salt in the ocean are different. They are qualitatively one but quantitatively different. Similarly, God is all-powerful, and we have some power. God creates everything, and we can create a small machine to fly, just like the small machines with which children play. But God can create millions of planets flying in the air. That is the qualification of God. You cannot create any planets. Even if you can create a planet, what is the benefit of that? There are millions of planets created by God. But you also have the creative power. God has power, and you have power. But His is so great that yours cannot compare to it. If you say, “I am God,” that is foolishness. You can claim that you are God, but what acts have you performed so extraordinary that you can claim that you are God? This is ignorance. The knowledge of one who thinks himself God has been taken away by the spell of maya. So our relationship is that God is great and we are minute. In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna clearly says, “All living entities are My parts and parcels. Qualitatively they are one with Me, but quantitatively they are different.” So we are simultaneously one with and different from God. That is our relationship. We are one because we have the same qualities as God. But if we study ourselves minutely, we will find that although we have some great qualities, God has them all in greater quantities.
We cannot have anything that is not in God. That is not possible. Therefore in the Vedanta-sutra it is said that everything that we have is also found in God. It is emanating from God. So our relationship is that because we are small, because we are minute, we are the eternal servitors of God. In this material world also, in ordinary behavior, we see that a man goes to serve another man because the other man is greater than he and can pay him a nice salary. So naturally the conclusion is that if we are small, our duty is to serve God. We have no other business. We are all different parts and parcels of the original entity.
A screw that is connected with a machine is valuable because it is working with the whole machine. And if the screw is taken away from the machine, or if it is faulty, it is worthless. My finger is worth millions of dollars as long as it is attached to this body and is serving the body. And if it is cut off from this body, then what is it worth? Nothing. Similarly, our relationship is that we are very small particles of God; therefore our duty is to dovetail our energies with Him and cooperate with Him. That is our relationship. Otherwise we are worthless. We are cut off. When the finger becomes useless the doctor says, “Oh, amputate this finger. Otherwise the body will be poisoned.” Similarly, when we become godless we are cut off from our relationship with God and suffer in this material world. If we try to join again with the Supreme Lord, then our relationship is revived.
So the summary is that we can revive our dormant love for Krishna by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra. The chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra will clean the mirror of our heart and when all the dirty things are washed away by the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra we will be able to see things as they are, we will realize the pointlessness of sense gratification in the material world and we will realize our eternal loving relationship with Krishna and our dormant love for Krishna will be reawakened and we will feel love for Krishna. And as our love for Krishna increases automatically our attachment to sense gratification in the material world will decrease. This is the “higher taste” that we must achieve if we are to become firmly fixed in Krishna consciousness.
[adapted from Srila Prabhupada’s Science of Self-Realization, Chapter 8]