Spiritual people are so boring. They cannot do so many things in life and are miserable with their restrictions. Is this true?
These are the common statements we hear from people on a daily basis. Most people are shocked to learn that we refrain from meat eating, intoxication, gambling and illicit sex. Since they derive great pleasure from such activities, they feel that we are weird, denying the simple contentments of life for meaningless spiritual pursuits.
Unfortunately, they cannot fathom the higher taste experienced by the devotees. We experience a transcendental pleasure and joy which does not depend on the material senses. A pleasure which is everlasting and joyfully performed. A pleasure which is free from satiation, unlike material pleasures which has a beginning and an end, which causes bondage to the material world and defeats the actual interest of the self.
Here is a simple analogy. Let’s say you and I are patients in a hospital. We are instructed to take medication and avoid various things to recover from our diseased condition. If we followed the directions conscientiously, we would be on the road to recovery, primed to enjoy healthy life outside the hospital. If we do not, we continue dwelling in the same ward.
Let’s say I decided to follow the instructions of the doctor strictly. Having a sore throat, I crave to eat paneer pizza but somehow or rather, I’m determined not to have it. I know by refraining and taking medications diligently, I will be free and healthy very shortly and I will be able to eat heartily with full satisfaction upon my release. I make a temporary sacrifice to attain the ultimate freedom from the hospital. This is the position of a devotee. He wants to get out of the hospital fast thus he restricts from sense gratification which was the very cause of his admission.
In your case, you decide to enjoy your senses while being sick. You continue eating the pizza in your diseased condition. You take the medications haphazardly and do not follow the restrictions imposed by the doctor. You have acted in a way that you are unable to fully enjoy the pizza and you continue suffering more diseases prolonging your stay in the hospital for a long long time.
Now to explain the analogy.The materialist is just like the patient who does not follow the doctor’s prescription and wants to continue enjoying his life in the hospital. Neither is he able to enjoy properly nor is he able to recover from the disease. Whereas the obedient patient is like the devotee. He agrees to undergo treatment restricting sense enjoyment which ultimately grants him full recovery to continue his regular life free from disease.
So this is the difference between the devotee and a non devotee. The devotee is undergoing voluntary tapasya (austerity) which seemingly looks weird to the rest of the world but he knows that the tapasya he is undergoing will soon free him from the bondage of repeated birth and death. The tapasya in kali yuga is no meat eating, intoxication, gambling and illicit sex and the medicine is the chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra. The Spiritual Master is the doctor who guides us out of the hospital. The temple is the hospital where we can seek treatment from Maya.
Devotees undergo voluntary Tapasya just so he can enjoy eternal uninterrupted happiness with Krsna in the spiritual world. Do you wish to come out of the hospital or would you like to be admitted longer?
The final point to note is that even though the devotee is a patient restricting sense enjoyment, he is still rejoicing more than the non devotee who thinks he is falsely enjoying.
Bhagavad Gita 5.21
Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way, the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme
Bhagavad Gita 5.22
An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them