This is one of the biggest illusions that humanity has been chasing since millenniums. People diligently strive for possessions, positions and popularity within this world. And what goads men to seek power and control within this world, even at the risk of losing out on their spiritual growth and inner fulfilment?
The need for love
The subtle driving force behind these pursuits is the need to love and to feel loved. In a desperate attempt to seek love in this world, people imagine that having things external of themselves would help them purchase this love. They hope to be loved for what they have and for what they do. However, most men and women experience that despite years of endeavour on the external front, they feel hollow from within.
In contrast if someone feels internally loved by God, he doesn’t care for the personal glory and fame of this world. A devotee’s sincere desire and endeavour to connect to Krishna makes him indifferent to the razzle dazzle of this world.
What’s wrong with the glory of this world?
It’s a poor substitute for real happiness. And the main reason for this is that the fame and glory here is transitory. One day you could be a hero and the next day you could be berated by your own fans. Many Indian cricketers have seen this display of extreme emotions from the very people who once eulogized them. If you take your fame seriously, and enjoy the praises, you’d be doubly miserable when people throw brickbats at you. And the world is so designed that sooner or later you would make mistakes or even if you don’t, there would always be people envious of you, and they’d have plenty of reasons to berate you.
Millions of years ago, the virtuous king Chitraketu enjoyed abundant prosperity and happiness. Due to a certain misunderstanding that arose between him and mother Parvati, he was cursed to be a demon. And then he was hated by all; all the great demi-gods and sages wished for his death. Earlier as King Chitraketu he thought having a son would make him happy, and it did. But the untimely death of the child totally devastated him. That’s the way the world is made; whoever you are and whatever you do or achieve here, you’d be painfully stripped of it all sooner or later. And while you possessed them, if you hadn’t sought connection to a reality beyond these fleeting things, you would be miserable.
More misery with the passing of time
Time passes swiftly; with our need for inner contentment not being met by external possessions, we’d soon get older, and the pain would only get more acute. When people don’t get love by external things, they try harder to seek more of it. Meanwhile, the unfulfilled void within becomes bigger, our loneliness more pronounced. Cases of cynical and depressed people in their middle and old ages are not uncommon in this world. The more we are disconnected from our inner self, and the more desperately we are seeking fulfilment from this world, the more saddened we’d be by the way the world treats us.
The real happiness
The world outside of ourselves has nothing tangible to offer us, for we are not these perishable bodies. Neither do we belong to this world. We are pure spirit souls, and only when we connect to the Supreme Spirit, God, can we experience unending happiness of the spiritual realm.
We have often seen that the rich and famous, despite access to an unlimited variety of pleasures seek solace through a spiritual path.
George Harrison realized this in the later 1960’s. Despite being a legendary Beatles singer, and the heart throb of millions the world over, he sought something deeper in life. Srila Prabhupada’s presentation of Krishna Consciousness attracted his heart, and through the simple, and endearing way Krishna presents Himself to His devotees charmed George Harrison’s heart. In his preface to Srila Prabhupada’s Krishna- the Supreme Personality of Godhead, George writes,
“Everybody is looking for Krishna.
Some don’t realize that they are, but they are.
KRISHNA is GOD, the source of all that exists, the Cause of all that is, was, or ever will be.
As GOD is unlimited, HE has many Names.
Allah-Buddha-Jehova-Rama: ALL are KRISHNA, all are ONE.”
As Hare Krishna devotees, we do strive to do well in our careers, but that’s not the goal of our lives. Our careers and external achievements are not an end in themselves; rather they are the means to connect internally to Krishna. This way our external pursuits carry meaning to our lives; they help us in our spiritual journey back home to the kingdom of God.