The goal of yoga and meditation, the goal of the Vedic system and the goal of human life are all the same: to become free from the wheel of birth and death, to become liberated. By nature, we are eternal living beings but we find ourselves in a situation of continual change. Day by day, hour by hour our bodies change, our relationships change, the entire world around us changes – everything is constantly changing. How can we become free from the impermanence that is a cause of suffering and be truly happy here and now?
The Secret of Eternal Happiness
Jagad Guru: In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Sri Krishna in text 51, Chapter 2:
The wise, engaged in devotional service, take refuge in the Lord, and free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing the fruits of action in the material world. In this way they can attain that state beyond all miseries.
Yoga, meditation, the Vedic system, the goal of human life are one and the same and that is to become liberated from the wheel of birth and death. We need to understand our identity as eternal spirit souls; that we are temporarily in that situation where we are experiencing that which is not our natural condition. Temporariness, mortality is not our natural condition. Immortality is our natural condition. Being immortal is not something that we become or we choose to be or whatever. But rather, it is our natural condition. That is just like wetness is a natural quality of water.
We are by nature eternal. But this eternal living being, you, the eternal living being in that body are now in a temporary body. It experienced birth and it will experience diseases and old age and finally, death. So we have a situation wherein the eternal is stuck in a temporary abode where everything keeps changing but the eternal living being keeps trying to have a solid situation. So it’s like constantly trying to be in a solid position but the floor beneath you keeps moving. So as soon as you think you’ve got a perfect relationship, or a perfect job, or a perfect life – “My life is finally together,” you know, at that point immediately things change and it’s no longer… everything’s perfect then you go to the doctor, he says, “Sorry you got cancer.”
“Shit! I just had the whole thing wired, I finally got it together. And look. It’s unfair.”
And we leave this temporary world still struggling to hold on to what we have as the foundation of our existence. We have some solidness to our life, at least this body we know, “I got this body, you know. It’s the most solid thing I know of. It’s the one thing that doesn’t appear to change. It does change but I still feel it’s still there. My dog died. My wife left me. Everything else is sort of gone but my body I still got and now you’re telling me that’s going to go, too?”
So the struggle is not really a struggle for survival. It’s the struggle of the eternal living being, who always survives, to be in a situation which doesn’t end. To be in a position that doesn’t end. To have a body that doesn’t stop. So it’s not that it’s a struggle for the living being to survive, rather, it is the struggle of this eternal living being to keep that which keeps changing to become solid and not change any more. So we’re struggling in this way. This is the contradiction between the eternal living being in this temporary world. That’s where all the misery is coming from. We are in the wrong place. The eternal living being in a temporary world – it doesn’t fit. So you don’t fit here. We’re all aliens, you see. You know they have all this stuff about, “Oh there’s an alien.”
“Oh this person’s an alien.”
We’re all aliens, come on. (laughter) And the proof is that sooner or later immigration catches us and kicks us out of this country. “Okay, you’re an eternal living being. You don’t belong here. This is a temporary place. Out you go.” That’s called death. This is the border police, the immigration cops. “You’re an alien. This isn’t your home. We’re kicking you out.” And where will you go? No matter where you go you’re an alien. No matter whether you’re in one kind of body or another kind of body, one planet another planet; you can go to another planet and there are many other people there, too, living beings there, too, and they’re also all aliens. None of them belong there either. Everybody everywhere in the material world, everybody is an alien. It’s not like, “Well, these are Earthlings and these are non-earthlings and these are Martians and whatever. No. No. All aliens. Everybody. No matter how many heads you got. (laughter) You’re not that four-headed body.
So the goal of the human form of life is to transcend this temporary world and reclaim our natural constitutional position in the eternal spiritual world. That’s the goal of human life – to be on the platform of eternality. Since we are eternal, we must be on a platform of existence which is eternal. If we do not exist on a platform of eternality then we are constantly going to be suffering the anxiety and the pain and the misery that comes from being in the temporary. It’s as simple as that.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy here and now. You can be happy here and now if you realize your eternality now. Just like I do not need to be in anxiety over the fact that this shirt starts getting holes and tears and so on if I know I’m not this shirt. If you know you’re not your physical body but that you are the eternal being within the body, then you do not need to have the stress or anxiety and fears connected to the temporary body. You live in this world with the same lack of anxiety over death that you now have or your lack of anxiety over whether or not your shirt has a tear in it or whether your shirt’s going to get old and you’re going to throw it away one day. Very few of us are in that situation where we are so afraid that our shirts are going to one day get old or our dresses are going to one day get old or our pants are going to one day fall apart and yet look how concerned we are about our bodies. We’re going to… “Oh boy, my body’s going to die one day. This is terrible, terrible, horrible thing.” Why is that? Why do we feel that way? Because we identify ourselves falsely with this body.
So how do we come to this eternal platform? Being eternal living beings, how do we come to the platform of eternality? What is that platform? The platform of eternality is eternal function – where can you act eternally with an eternal function. What is your eternal function? You’re an eternal living being but what’s your eternal job? You know when people ask you, first thing they ask you on the form is, “Who are you?”
“My name is such and such.”
“What is your job? What is your function? What is your work? What do you do? What is your purpose of life?” And we write down, “I am Joe Blow and my function is I am a longshore worker. I work on the docks. I work down by, you know, the shipping.”
And when that job is finished he becomes depressed, “Oh my function is gone. I have no more purpose.” And even their value, what they place on their own personal value. Their self-esteem is based upon whether or not they’re getting enough money. “It’s not that we don’t have enough money. We get $90,000 a year for pushing crates around. It’s not that that’s not enough. It’s just that the guys in California get $10,000 more than that and we’re thinking, ‘What, are we less valuable? Am I of less value than the other guy?'”
We place our value upon our work, upon our function. So if your function is, “I am a professor of Neurology at the university.” You walk down the street like a big dude. “I am important. I am valuable.” And if you’re the janitor in the university, at the same place, the same building, you work in the same place, you both work in the same nice building but you’re a janitor. You walk the same hallways. It’s just he walks with his papers and pens and you walk around with your mop. (laughter) And so you’re thinking, “I’m just a janitor. Maybe I can increase my sense of self-esteem by not calling myself a janitor and more of… calling myself a maintenance technician.” (laughter)
“Oh I’m a garbage man. I’m not a garbage man. That interferes with my value of my self-esteem to call me a garbage man! I’m a (and this is true), I’m a sanitation engineer.” (laughter)
It’s a fact, that’s what they call garbage men now. If you go up to a garbage man and say, “How long have you been a garbage man?”
They go, “What?!”
They’ll get pissed off at you. They’ll hit you over the head with the trash can. (laughter)
“I’m not a garbage man! I’m a sanitation engineer.”
“Okay, you’re a sanitation engineer. How long you been one of these sanitation engineers?”
Their self-esteem is based upon their function. So we have this temporary… and if we lose our job, we go from being a professor of Neurology at the university to being a, ahem, sanitation engineer then this is a real… it’s not the pay. The problem is the self-esteem. “I used to think of myself very highly. I used to know about how all of those brain things used to move around and I did all these stuff and I was able to talk about it and now I just carry trash around.”
The most important thing to us is not only our existence, but the purpose of our existence, our function, what we do. Oh then we also identify ourselves in other ways in connection with our function.
“I am a mother. I am a wife. My function is serving my husband. Taking care of my kids.”
“I am a husband. My function is taking care of my wife. Loving my wife and children.”
“I am a soldier, protecting my country.”
We have our love, in other words, connects with our function. Our love connects us with our function. Our function is serving that which we love.
“I love my wife, I serve my wife.”
“I love my husband, I serve my husband.”
“I love my country. I serve my country.”
“I love my whole planet. I join Greenpeace.” You see.
“I serve my planet, I’m a earthy as distinct from one of those other guys out there. I care about our planet. It’s the only planet. I love my planet.”
“I love my wife.”
“I love my dog.”
We serve based on our love, our attachment, our affection. But this service does not go along with the eternality. Why? Because the service is temporary. I’m a neurologist temporarily. I’m a servant of my wife temporarily. I’m a servant of my husband temporarily. I’m a servant of my dog temporarily. These are all temporary. They don’t fit with the eternality. “What do you mean it’s temporary?” Well, at the very least, at the time of death it’s over. When you leave this body, you can no longer be the servant of your wife. You can no longer be the servant of your husband. You can no longer be the servant of your country. So your eternal function cannot be ‘I am servant of my church. I am servant of my country. I am servant of my family. I am servant of my community,’ whatever it is. Servant of the people. These are all temporary. So what we need is an eternal platform of loving service, loving service which is eternal. What loving service is eternal?
Many people, when they think of God, when they think of the Absolute Truth, they think of simply impersonal. That God is impersonal. But in fact, God is the Supreme Person. You are His part and parcel and you can engage in the eternal function of engaging in God’s loving service. Just like now you serve your husband, you serve your wife, you serve your family, you serve your country out of affection and love. You serve the Supreme Lord out of love and this is an eternal function that does not end when this body ends.
See, if you become attached to the forms and names of this world and you have your love in that way, directed towards the temporary – you can be temporarily in illusion that you are happy. But sooner or later, death will come. And before that comes, you’re going to be thinking about it so you can’t really be happy. And when it comes, then that service is finished. That relationship is finished. That function is finished. So you, the eternal living being, need an eternal function of love, an eternal loving function. So what is your eternal loving function? As an eternal part and parcel of God your eternal loving function is to be engaging in His loving service; to have the same loving relationship that you have with friends or with your beloved, with your father, with your mother, with your child. You have one of these relationships with the Supreme Lord. This is your natural condition. It’s not something artificial. It’s something that, in fact, you already have and simply needs to be uncovered.
Your affection for Krishna, your love for God, is already there. Your love for God is already there but covered up. In other words, it is natural for you to be loving the Supreme Lord just like it’s natural for the child to be loving his father, natural for the husband to be loving his wife or wife, husband or friend, his friend. It is natural. It’s just that you have forgotten. Being in the world of the temporary, you have forgotten your Eternal Friend. You’ve forgotten your Eternal Father. You’ve forgotten your Eternal Beloved. God is all of these.
So the practice of yoga, the practice of meditation, the practice of the Vedas, the goal is, the practice of any spiritual process – the goal is the same. Ultimately, the goal is for you to be resituated in your natural position as the loving servant of God where your attachment is for Him. Your love is for Him. Your energy is directed in His service for His pleasure and you find happiness as an eternal servant of the Supreme. In that, that is where you find your happiness. And when you leave this world, that’s called graduation time or that’s called the test. Whether you graduate or not, we’ll have to see. That will be decided. You’ll find that out at the time of death.
Graduation time means you leave this body and is your attachment more on this world, the temporary relationships and everything, or is your attachment to the Supreme Lord? So now in this life, in order to succeed, to pass that test, now you need to consciously engage in the activities which increase your attachment to God and simultaneously decrease your attachment to this material world. In other words, once you understand what the goal is – the goal is to become attached in loving service to the Supreme Lord – once you understand this is your goal, then you need to decide whether or not you want that. In other words, I’ve told you just now that there’s an option for you as far as the goal of life. I’m telling you that the goal of life is not any thing you can find in this world. That’s not the goal of life. The goal of life is something transcendental to this.
The goal of life is to be resituated in your eternal function as God’s loving servant. If you understand what I’ve said then you’ll know, “Okay, well that’s one choice.” You have another choice though, don’t you? What’s your other choice? What do most people choose? Yes? What’s the other choice? Yes, increasing your attachment. The choice is you can increase your attachment to this temporary world, to the temporary relationships of this world. So you have these choices. You have to make a conscious attempt. You have to want to become attached to God. You have to want that because only if you want that will you be motivated enough to engage in the activities which will increase your natural attachment to God. That’s the only way to do it. There’s no use chanting the names of God unless you have a motivation for doing so. And what is that motivation? The motivation must be that you want to increase your attachment for God. And God’s names have a purifying effect upon your consciousness so that your natural attachment for Him increases and your attachment for this temporary world decreases. If you want to become increasingly attached to this material world, if you want to try to find your foundation, the foundation of your existence in this world, if you want this to be your home, if you say, “Well, I’ve heard what you have to say. I understand what you’re saying but I don’t want it. I want a regular, normal life, you know. I just want to be happy, you know, like a regular normal person.”
“Just in misery. I mean, not in misery but normal. You know, just regular, like you know, the whole thing. The whole – the job, the looking for mates, the finding a mate, the having children, the having the children grow up to hate you. The whole thing! I want it all! The dog that gets run over by the car. You know, the parents who die on you. I want attachment to all of this. And I want fame. I want the money. I heard what you have to say, I’d rather have the money.”
Here’s the choice – increase your attachment to God or have a million dollars.
“I want the money.”
“Okay, take the money.”
We have choices and this is the big choice. You do not… the interesting thing about this choice though is that you only have to make one choice. You don’t need to say, “I choose to serve Maya. I choose to serve illusion. I choose to serve and live in the temporary.” You don’t need to say that. You don’t need to make a conscious choice there. All you need to do is fail to make the choice to become attached to God and then automatically if you do not make the decision to become attached, increasingly attached to God then automatically Mayadevi, the illusory energy of God, makes it so that you become her servant, that you can become a servant of the temporary. It happens automatically.
If you do not make a conscious surrender, a conscious attempt or a conscious surrender process where you are actually giving your heart to God, then automatically, your heart will be with Maya or illusion. So it’s not like you’re going to be able to stay in the middle of ignorance and enlightenment. You can’t stay there. If you do not take shelter of God, then automatically you will be taking shelter of illusion. You can’t be in the middle. So there must be a positive decision to serve God, to dedicate one’s life to developing one’s attachment and love for God. If that positive decision is not there then automatically you will not engage in the activities to increase that attachment. You will not be surrendered in that way. Automatically, therefore, you will engage in other activities which increase your attachment to the temporary. Do you understand this? It’s automatic.
So every day a person must get up; a practitioner of sadhana bhakti, they must get up in the morning and have a conscious decision that they want to be attached to Krishna. They want to be attached to God therefore, they take the action of chanting on japa beads the names of God. They take the action of offering something rather than just going and eating it without offering it to Krishna. They must take action that increases their attachment to God. And they won’t take that action, you won’t take that action, you won’t make that sacrifice and engage in that austerity – you won’t do that unless you have the motivation to achieve the result of those actions. If you don’t have the desire, if you don’t make the decision – “This is what I want in life. I want to become attached to Krishna. I’m not attached to Krishna now but I want to be.” If you don’t have that ‘want to be’… “I want to be attached to God. I’m not attached to God. I have no love for God but I want to be attached to God.” If you don’t have that desire to be attached to God then you will automatically be attached to the temporary and you will automatically have to suffer the results of that by being caught on the wheel of birth and death over and over again.
So the freedom is there. Each of us has free will or freedom but it is limited. It is limited in the sense that we get to choose to serve God or not to serve God. If we choose to serve God, then automatically, we come under God’s protection. And if we do not, if we misuse that free choice and don’t make that choice to serve God, automatically, we come under the jurisdiction of the illusory energy, the laws of material nature, birth and death. And we must go through that cycle of karmic reaction until someday in the future, some lifetime in the future we decide, “I’m tired of this. I want off. I want to develop my love for God. I want to develop my attachment for God.”
So we do have that choice and I am begging you to make the choice to develop your love for Krishna. If you make that choice just once in your life, He will help you come closer to Him. And some point in your life, following the process of sadhana bhakti, you’ll come to the point where you experience surrender to God. Surrender means, it doesn’t mean, “I will try to surrender.” It doesn’t mean, “I’d like to surrender.” Surrender means that you actually give your life, place your life totally in His hands. Place your love totally in His hands. You surrender. Surrender means giving up your love. Giving up your control. Giving up your existence into God’s hands. “I surrender. Whatever is Your will that is my will. Let Your will be done. Whatever is pleasing to You, let me do that. That will satisfy me.” That is surrender. Thank you very much.