“Krishna consciousness is simple for the simple”, Srila Prabhupada used to say, “simply a matter of understanding and accepting.” And, “what is the difficulty?”
Srila Prabhupada used to talk about our being Krishna conscious, on what he referred to as “the mental platform.” What is this mental platform? The mental platform means that we know the philosophy, but we don’t walk the talk. We can quote so many verses, present so many good arguments; but we’re not yet embracing Krishna within our hearts.
In days of old, a king would make a document official by stamping it with his ring, and gradually that took the form of an official rubber stamp. The rubber stamp meant that a document was authorized. But Srila Prabhupada said that we can’t rubber stamp a devotee. In other words, one can go through the authorized process of initiation, but that doesn’t make one a devotee. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada used to talk about the “show bottle”. The show bottle was placed in the drug store window in order to advertise a medical product. The liquid in the bottle would be colored just like the real medicine, but the medicine wasn’t in that liquid. It was just a show bottle.
Why did Srila Prabhupada talk about the “rubber stamp” and the “show bottle”? He talked about these things because he was talking about us. He was talking about devotees who live on the “mental platform” of Krishna consciousness. We can do our sadhana, and that’s very good. We can engage in practical service for spreading Krishna consciousness and serving the devotees. But in the purport to Bhagavad-gita 9.2, Srila Prabhupada tells us that Krishna is only interested in the love with which we perform these activities.
In Krishna consciousness, love is the medium of exchange. We daily repeat the prayer that says that Srila Prabhupada came to the western world to deliver us from impersonalism and voidism. But until we engage in Krishna consciousness with love in our hearts, we remain on the impersonal mental platform. Krishna wants our love.
I have one friend who used to be the vice-president of a major temple. He gave up Krishna consciousness. He said, “I did everything, but it just didn’t work for me.” Myself, I was initiated in 1968, and for years I did my sadhana, wondering if I would ever have a sense of loving reciprocation with Krishna. But it was only in the last so many years that I began to understand that Krishna loves me. “What changed?” The only thing that changed was that I began to learn how to open my heart and focus my love on Krishna.
Krishna is not hiding from us. He came to our planet just to tell us that all He wants is our love. Krishna is very personal. And He sends His pure devotees who travel the globe canvassing on Krishna’s behalf. So, if we are not feeling a sense of loving reciprocation with Krishna, it’s not because Krishna is hiding from us. He has already made the first move, and the ball is in our court.
How does Krishna respond? He responds in proportion to how we relate to Him. This is His promise in Bhagavad-gita. We are practicing bhakti yoga. Our connection with Krishna is through love.
When I was a kid, there was one song: “What Is This Thing Called Love?” The fact is – love is what we are. As pure spirit soul, we are never without love. But when that love is manifested through the agency of the modes of passion and ignorance it becomes expressed in a perverted manner, taking the form of self-centeredness. This is clearly stated in the Introduction to The Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
In Krishna consciousness, we have the most sophisticated understanding of God and our eternal relationship with Him. This is an enormous step forward in our journey home, to the spiritual world. But now we have to cultivate our capacity to live in love. We have to cultivate the ability to live with love as the baseline of our walk through life. In bhakti yoga, “the means and the goal are one and the same”. It is all about love.
Some devotees are inclined to think that if we do our sadhana and our service long enough and intensely enough, that one day… a light will go on… and we’ll be blessed with love for Krishna. But it doesn’t work that way, and it won’t work that way. Krishna is personal. As we cultivate the ability to focus our loving propensity on Him, He reveals Himself to us. In this way our love continues to grow. And the more it grows, the more intimate that revelation becomes.
We have to contemplate this very seriously. All of us can have a sense of loving reciprocation with Krishna right now. Krishna consciousness is “simple for the simple”. How long does it take? Srila Prabhupada says we can be Krishna conscious in a second. Krishna consciousness is being conscious of Krishna in a way that is favorable – conscious of Krishna with love in our hearts.
This practice is not as elusive as it may seem. It is our aspiration to continue to bring this subject matter into focus in a way that is tangible, in an on-going series of installments on this site. There is nothing as exciting as Krishna consciousness. We are so fortunate. Let us keep in touch. In the meantime, ask yourself, “Am I approaching Krishna with love in my heart?”