“The more one is attracted by sense objects, the more one becomes entangled in material existence. The best way to disentangle oneself is to always engage the mind in Krishna consciousness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.5 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
In devotional service, one of the goals is to be so attached to the Supreme Lord that you become entangled by Him. Your love becomes so strong that there is nothing you can do to break away. It’s as if you’re burdened constantly, without any let up. It’s like trying to outrun an oncoming train, where you only get little spurts of rest here and there.
Of course this burden is a good thing. It is beneficial, as it meets the eternal occupation of the soul. The individual has certain characteristics that exist perpetually. One person is born in one nation and another is born in a different land. One person is born a man and another a woman. While these distinctions bring unique characteristics, through the workings of time things change.
Not so for the spirit soul. It is always blissful and full of knowledge. It always maintains a relationship to the Supreme Soul. Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu describes that relationship as simultaneously one and different, achintya-bhedabheda-tattva. The individual soul is equal to the Supreme Soul, but at the same time unequal. Devotional service is the ideal engagement resulting from this relationship, and those who have found it are happily entangled.
Bhima was trying to explain this to his friend one day. Bhima described how man already gets entangled in so many things without realizing it. Better it is to get caught up in the web of transcendental love and devotion. He attempted to illustrate the point by bringing up a recent incident from his life.
I was in India visiting relatives. Though I have gone more frequently in recent years, it’s still always a bit of a shock. The roads are what get me every time. Picture driving in New York City. Then multiply the chaos by a factor of ten. That’s really not even accurate, but it’s a way to help you understand.
I think I ran out of toothpaste one day so my uncle said he would go out and buy me some. I felt like getting out of the house so I asked if I could join him. The ride was interesting enough, as we passed by so many things on the road. At one point we pulled over to the side of the road and asked if the vendor had any fruit. Seeing that all the fruit looked rotten, my uncle chastised the man and then drove off. I got a big kick out of that.
We got the toothpaste, but as we were returning home my uncle stopped somewhere else. He was looking to get a dog for the house. Simple enough, no? Suddenly we were in this back alley that had a narrow road in the middle. We had to walk to this outdoor market that had a tent over it. I almost got hit by scooters and motorcycles as we were standing in front of the shop.
I can’t tell you how weird this place was. There were all these chickens in a cage in the front, with some pigeons as well. My uncle went in the back with the store owner to look at dogs. He was gone for quite a while. Random people would come up to me, asking for stuff. I couldn’t understand them. Then the chickens started making a lot of noise. I didn’t have a cell phone on me. I was pretty much helpless. I asked myself, “Where am I and how did I get here?”
My uncle eventually came back and things were okay again, but the episode got me to thinking. Something as simple as picking up toothpaste got me entangled in a situation foreign to me. There are so many other entanglements resulting from material desires. We get caught up in stuff without even knowing why.
Bhima explained that at least in devotional service, the entanglement is beneficial. If one creates the routine of chanting the holy names, then soon they won’t be able to give it up. Wherever they are, at least in their mind the song will always be playing, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur
ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ
“A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.5)
The most important knowledge will be there, that the Supreme Lord is all-attractive. There will be renunciation since the devotional practices will take precedent. It’s difficult to be addicted to sinful life when the entire day is filled with devotional activities. In this way the wise choice for every person is to follow bhakti-yoga.
Entangled in unexpected ways,
Changing but mental turmoil stays.
With circumstances suddenly to flip,
Trouble even during a routine trip.
Follow bhakti-yoga instead,
And into transcendence be led.
In the lotus feet of Krishna find,
The elusive peace for your troubled mind.