What is Life?
Posted On May 7, 2021
What is life or the meaning of life? Why are we here in this material world? The meaning of life is to enjoy, and we are here in the material world because we want to enjoy independently from God.
The basic illusion that covers the soul in the material world is that he thinks he’s the enjoyer. Factually Krishna is the only enjoyer. The original sin is that we are envious of God’s position as the supreme enjoyer.
An objection often heard is, but how can I be envious of someone whom I don’t believe exists?
The envy, however, is that we try to take over Krishna’s position as the enjoyer and controller. In reality everything exists in the spiritual realm for Krishna’s pleasure. Everything on the spiritual plane revolves around Krishna’s enjoyment. But Krishna is so kind that He has made this material world, wherein the fallen souls can try and imitate Him as enjoyers and controllers.
So we have fallen, because, at one point in eternity, the idea arose in us – how come Krishna is the center of everything here? Why is He the only enjoyer? As soon as that idea manifests in the soul, he falls down to the material world.
The original position of the soul is to be enjoyed by Krishna. But in his deluded, fallen condition, the soul instead tries to enjoy a material body. So that is the original sin – to want to take Krishna’s position as the enjoyer and controller. It’s really like a disease. Sense-enjoyment, or bodily enjoyment, is like a narcotic for the soul.
In this connection I’d like to welcome you to SA – Sense-enjoyers Anonymous.
Sense-gratification is the addiction of the soul. We often talk about drug addictions. An addiction to heroin, for instance, is almost impossible to conquer. Just like a person is addicted to heroin, so the soul is addicted to sense-gratification.
In NA people get help overcoming their addiction to drugs. At the first meeting you attend, you are supposed to state your name and recognize, you are a drug-addict. You go, hello, my name is Michael and I am addicted to heroin. Hello Michael, the assembled drug-addicts greet you.
Similarly, in SA you go, Hare Krishna, my name is Jiva, and I am addicted to sense-enjoyment. Hare Krishna, Jiva, the assembled devotees greet you. The addiction the soul has to sense-enjoyment is exactly as severe and as difficult to overcome, as a person’s addiction to heroin.
In NA they teach you, that the only way to overcome your addiction to drugs, is to petition a higher power for help. You have to recognize a higher power outside yourself, and get help from that. And this method works. It is a statistical fact.
In SA we are so fortunate, that by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada we know who that higher power is, and we know how to contact Him. So by petitioning Krishna by constantly chanting his name out loudly in song, or quietly in meditation, He will help us overcome our addiction to sense-gratification.
If we refuse to accept that we are sense-enjoyment-addicts, if in stead we make it the goal of life, the result will be the disease of repeated birth and death. Some people will object, but life is not a disease. I have a good time in the material world. I don’t suffer.
But the point is that all bodily enjoyment invariably ends in suffering sooner or later for the simple reason that the inevitable destination of the body is disease, old age, and death. This would be a depressing realization, were it not for the fact that there is a solution – to return back to one’s identity as Krishna’s soul, meant to be enjoyed by Him. It can seem like a contradiction, but the truth is that if we wish to experience the highest form of happiness, we have to give up the futile attempt to become happy in the material world by bodily gratification, and surrender fully to Krishna’s enjoyment.
By assisting Krishna in His enjoyment the soul will experience a higher satisfaction than the happiness it can get from matter. And it is only in the human life-form that the option is there for the soul to return back to its original position of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. Eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, the soul can do in any life-form. Only in the human form of life can it realize its original, eternal position and purpose.
mayy arpitatmanah sabhya
mayatmana sukham yat tat
kutah syad visayatmanam
-Srimad Bhagavatam 11.14.12
“O learned Uddhava, those who fix their consciousness on Me, giving up all material desires, share with Me a happiness that cannot possibly be experienced by those engaged in sense gratification.”
“The actual purport of Vedic knowledge is explained in this verse. The word visayatmanam includes those who are cultivating material peace of mind, self-control and speculative philosophy. But even if such persons rise to the platform of sattva-guna, the mode of goodness, they do not attain perfection, because sattva-guna, being material, is also part and parcel of maya, or illusion. As stated by Sri Narada Muni:
kim va yogena sankhyena
kim va sreyobhir anyais ca
na yatratma-prado harih
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead is not inclined to award Himself even to one who executes the yoga system, speculative philosophy, the renounced order of life or Vedic studies. Indeed, no so-called materially auspicious process can induce the Lord to reveal Himself.” (Bhag. 4.31.12) According to Srila Sridhara Svami, one enjoys the happiness spoken of in this verse while associating, in one’s own spiritual body, with the supreme transcendental form of the Lord. The Lord’s transcendental form is filled with infinite, wonderful qualities, and the happiness of being with the Lord is unlimited. Unfortunately, materialistic people cannot possibly imagine such happiness, since they are not at all inclined to love the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
[Translation & Purport credit: Srimad Bhagavatam Class]
By Jahnu Das, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Mayapur, West Bengal, India