“In the desert there is no water, but the mirage suggests that there is such a thing as water. In the material world there is no water, there is no happiness, but the real water of actual happiness is there in the spiritual world.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)Download this episode (right click and save)
Ultimately, bhakti-yoga is about finding happiness. Though it is equated with faith or religion by those who don’t know the scientific background to it, it has nothing to do with fear or escaping unpleasant conditions. Bhakti deals with love and the yoga aspect addresses the spirit soul, which identifies each one of us. As all are looking for happiness in some form or another, bhakti-yoga becomes an easy choice, one that delivers on the promise.
Advertising gives a good insight into the pulse of society. The different kinds of programming on television each have their specific kinds of advertisers. For instance, if watching sports, you’re likely to see car commercials. This latest car is driving through winding roads along a hillside. It boasts of many new features. The idea is that you, the viewer, will be happy only if you purchase this new car. Get rid of the stale and outdated model you’re currently driving. Upgrade and be happy.
Another commercial is for beer. Hang out with your friends and drink the best tasting adult beverage with them. You don’t want to be alone, do you? You don’t want to be a boring stiff. You want some adventure in your life and you want your friends to think that you’re a hip dude, someone with the times. So drink this beer and you won’t have any problems.
Turn on the television on a weekend morning and you’ll run into the infomercial. These are extended advertising segments, filling up timeslots that are normally reserved for programming like news, sports, cartoons, music and the like. What are these infomercials selling? Most commonly the product relates to weight loss. Purchase this new supplement and you’ll lose weight fast. Buy this exercise machine and in very little time you’ll look great. You’ll shed that holiday weight that you’ve been meaning to address. Your pants will fit again and people will marvel at how good you look.
Of course these advertisements continue to air only because of patronage. People keep buying these things. The advertisers are not dumb; they go to where the money is. All of this means that people are willing to try different things to become happy. Children will play video games for hours on end. Stressed adult workers will go to exotic destinations for vacation. People will read books about how to improve their lives.
Observing from a distance, the person practicing bhakti-yoga makes the following plea:
“You’re searching for happiness. That can’t be denied. You’re trying so many different things. Why not give bhakti-yoga a chance? The process and the result are quite straightforward. Surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, and be given full protection. Not that you’ll never die. Not that you’ll never grow old. Those are bound to happen through nature, starting at the time of birth. Instead, you’ll get happiness. You’ll get protection in the form of a secure future, where you’ll continue to have the chance to serve Krishna, which is your innate desire to begin with.
“If you don’t want to accept Krishna as God, you can worship His expansion of the Supersoul residing within the heart. If that is too difficult for you, at least respect the impersonal Brahman, which is the sum collection of all sparks of spirit. Your present religious affiliation does not preclude you from practicing bhakti. Nothing can, in fact, since you’re only trying to find happiness. Wouldn’t the people who care about you want you to be as happy as possible?”
Indeed, we know that pursuits in material life don’t lead to lasting happiness. They can’t for the very reason that death takes place. Bhakti-yoga addresses both the present and the future. In the present the identification gets adjusted to where the individual realizes that they are spirit soul, part and parcel of God. The future gets fixed too, as the cycle of birth and death ends for the God conscious soul.
anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
Rebirth guarantees a renewed search for lasting happiness. Bhakti-yoga is the culmination of all attempts at finding that happiness, and so it makes sense that rebirth would come to an end. In this process, the past gets addressed as well. All the mistakes that were made, all the regrettable acts, all the good times that are sorely missed, they get purified through achieving the ultimate reward of God’s association. The past becomes an instrument in that success, and so every negative gets transformed into a positive.
The individual is seeking happiness. This cannot be denied. Why not give bhakti-yoga a try? Why not chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare? It seems too easy for sure. It seems that our important responsibilities will get neglected, and therefore we’ll suffer. It seems like devotion to God is something better left for the end of life.
Though that end is guaranteed, its time of arrival is unknown. Therefore today could be the end of life. Those responsibilities will not mean a thing while we are quitting our body, but our consciousness certainly will. Therefore better to find bhakti-yoga today, where happiness will come automatically through the surrendering process.
In this world person every one and each,
Some kind of happiness they seek.
Everything tried despite,
Yet to reach living’s height.
Why not then bhakti-yoga take,
And the consciousness reshape?
That something better finally to come,
Even before death, have reservations none.