Srimad Bhagavatam 3.20.36
When Lord Brahma was attacked by the demons created by him, he surrendered to the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord ordered Brahma to cast off his impure body, which took the form of the evening twilight. The demons who were very fond of sex imagined the twilight to be a beautiful woman and got attracted to her. They observed her beautiful gestures and praised her beauty. Her form agitated their mind.
The Trap of Maya
In the Bhagavad-gita, this material world is compared to a banyan tree that has its roots upward and its branches down. urdhva-mulam adhah-shakham ashvattham prahur avyayam (15.1).
If you see the reflection of a banyan tree in water, it will have its branches down and roots up. Similarly this material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world and this reflection is situated on the desire of the living entity to enjoy independently of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Whatever we see in this material world are perverted reflections of things that exist in the spiritual world.
We see various forms in this material world. These forms exist here because such forms also exist in the spiritual world. But, the spiritual form is sac-cid-ananda – eternal existence, full of knowledge and bliss.
The material forms, on the other hand, are not eternal – they are temporary, and are also covered by ignorance. Further they are full of miseries.
Relationships exist in the material world because such relationship exists in the spiritual world.
In this material world, everyone tries to experience the relational pleasure, even animals. However, in animal life, the relationship exists in an unpolished form and is not as refined as it is in the human form.
The relational pleasure is much finer in the society of demigods. And in the absolute platform (suddha-sattva), the relationship exists in its pure uncontaminated form.
The Mayavadis do not accept the spiritual form and spiritual variegatedness. According to them anything that is full of variegatedness is maya. But that is not true. Maya (or illusion) is not in the variegatedness. It is in our attitude towards this variegatedness.
In this material world, we are trying to be the central enjoyer of everything. That is maya. We want to enjoy independently, forgetting Krishna. When we develop this attitude of independent enjoyment, we come under the grip of maya.
It is said in the Prema-vivarta:
krishna-bahirmukha hana bhoga-vancha kare
nikata-stha maya tare japatiya dhare
When we turn our face away from Krishna and desire to enjoy the material world, we are immediately victimized by maya, the illusory energy of the Lord. We get entrapped in the network of illusions and run after illusory pleasure in this material world, and thus we are deprived of the real pleasure.
Shackles of Sex Life
We seek pleasure in this material world and sex life is the basic principle of pleasure. This material world is also called maithunya-agara, or the shackles of sex life. Sex life is the seed of a network of illusions. It chains us down to this material world just like a chained elephant.
In the prison house, the criminals are shackled by chains; similarly, the criminals who are disobedient to the laws of the Lord are shackled by sex life in this material world.
It is not that someone forced us to come here and get shackled. We made our own choice.
We wanted to enjoy independently of Krishna and we are trapped in this material world, chained by the shackles of sex life. Both in its gross and subtle form, sex life is a trap.
As a firefly gets attracted to fire and gets killed by entering the fire, a person infatuated with sex life is sure to commit spiritual suicide. One who can get over this hankering is entitled to spiritual pleasure.
The spiritual pleasure, on the other hand, is unlimited and unending (anantam).
It is the real pleasure (described as brahma saukhyam) and can be experienced only in the platform of pure goodness (suddha sattva).
sukham atyantikam yat tad buddhi-grahyam atindriyam (Bhagavad-gita 6.21):
The supreme happiness is perceived through intelligence and is transcendental to the material senses. One who is established in this supreme pleasure never departs from truth and for such a person there is no higher gain. One who has experienced that higher taste will give up the taste for material pleasure.
param drishtva nivartate (Bhagavad-gita 2.59)
The material pleasure is limited and it is temporary. But in this material world, we are constantly running after this flickering pleasure.
maya-sukhaya bharam udvahato vimudhan (Srimad Bhagavatam 7.9.43)
Srimad Bhagavatam condemns this attitude. For the sake of sense gratification, we are running after illusory happiness and thus taking up various unnecessary burdens.
The spiritual aspirants always try to keep themselves away from this sex pleasure. Sri Yamunacharya, a great saint and devotee says: Since my mind has been engaged in the service of the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, and I have been enjoying an ever new transcendental humor, whenever I think of sex life with a woman, my face at once turns from it, and I spit at the thought.
Giving up sex life doesn’t really mean that we are giving up something. We are just giving up what is unnatural to the soul – something that is depriving us of our real pleasure. Actually, we are giving up nonsense and taking up the real life of regulative principles.
The Supreme Pleasure
The real pleasure can be experienced only when we establish our lost relationship with Krishna.
When we are entrapped in this material world, we forget that relationship and try to enjoy materially. But we are starved. We seek relational pleasure everywhere in this material world.
Like a hungry man trying to eat food, we try to enjoy everything that is available at our disposal for pleasing our senses. We try to possess them. But unfortunately, in this material world, the pleasure is limited.
But, we can experience the real unlimited and unending spiritual pleasure even in this material world.
It is not a postdated cheque which is attained after a prolonged period of spiritual practice. Even in our present condition, we can experience it by learning how to enjoy the existential pleasure of devotional service.
We need not have to learn how to enjoy material life; that has become natural for us in this conditioned existence. But to enjoy spiritual life, we have to put in efforts and learn. The process of sadhana bhakti is to purify ourselves and our sense of enjoyment.
The first step in learning to enjoy in relationship with Krishna is to understand that everything in the material world and spiritual world actually belongs to Krishna. Each one of us belongs to Him. And we enjoy the love of Krishna.
The desire to gratify one’s own senses is called lust (kāma). The desire to please Krishna by our activities is called love (prema). This relationship with Krishna is the most pleasurable experience.
At present, we are being dictated by our mind and senses and thus we seek sensual pleasure. We should not allow that to happen. Instead, we should train our mind to take real pleasure in knowing about Krishna and in remembering and glorifying His transcendental name, form, qualities, pastimes, etc.
We have to lead a life based on the regulative principles of devotional service (sādhana-bhakti) which includes:
- chanting the holy names of the Lord
- hearing His glories (tvad-vīrya-gāyana-mahāmṛta-magna-cittaḥ)
- worshipping Him, and
- dedicating our activities to satisfy Him
This is the only way to awaken our original consciousness to enjoy in relationship with Krishna. This is the supreme transcendental pleasure.
Learning to Experience Real Pleasure
Learning how to enjoy real pleasure in relationship with Krishna is a wonderful experience in itself.
For a devotee, there is no hard struggle for material existence. Isn’t this the mercy of the Lord?
We should always be dependent on Guru and Krishna. When we realize our dependence on the Lord, we develop the faith that He will take care of us. We will be astonished to see how lovingly the Lord is following us and keeping us in devotional service despite all our drawbacks and sinful tendencies.
This is the way to enjoy a regulated life of devotional service even when we are on the path of spiritual perfection. If we don’t know this secret and keep our spiritual life dry, the senses will automatically be pulled towards the objects of worldly pleasure.
If we try to ignite fire and at the same time pour water, it is only a waste of time. In the present condition we are like a patient who is getting cured by taking medicines, following the diet and other regulations as prescribed by the doctor. Now, if we violate these regulations, the disease will relapse.
Therefore to be successful in the path of bhakti, we should meticulously follow the regulative principles of bhakti as instructed by Srila Prabhupada – no meat eating, no intoxication, no illicit sex and no gambling.
For a beginner on this path, material enjoyment may overtake the enjoyment in devotional service, but by following the orders of the spiritual master and sticking to regulative devotional service can help one develop detachment from material pleasure.
It is not possible to free ourselves of the material existence without the mercy of the Lord. The Supreme Lord accompanies all the living entities as the Supersoul in their heart. He is the supreme spiritual master who helps us from within as the chaitya guru. When we stick to the regulative principles of devotional service, the Supreme Lord reciprocates and guides us in becoming free from the miserable material existence.