Digging for gold requires dealing with dirt
Few activities captivate the human imagination as much as the hope of finding underground gold. However, such fantasies often overlook the reality that that gold excavation requires laborious digging, which necessitates dealing with dirt, sometimes tons of dirt.
Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.7.21) uses gold excavation as a metaphor for the spiritual quest. Buried deep inside us, below layers and layers of material misconceptions is our spiritual core – the essence of who we are: the soul. The soul is a part of God, Krishna, who is the reservoir of unlimited happiness. When we realize our spiritual identity, we gain access to everlasting joy.
Spiritual growth requires digging out the dirt of misconceptions that crowd our heart. The most fundamental misconception is about where we can find happiness. Living in the material world, amidst a materialistic culture, driven by material senses, we naturally conceive happiness in material terms. But material pleasures are at best short-lived and end in disappointment and frustration. Rejecting the lure of such pleasures is like the laborious digging on the spiritual path.
Nonetheless, just as attaining the gold is worth the labor of digging, attaining spiritual happiness is well worth the labor of digging within, that is, of rejecting worldly pleasures and nourishing our higher aspirations. The Bhagavad-gita (18.37) conveys this combination of rigor and reward while describing higher joys metaphorically: they taste like poison initially, but nectar eventually.
This laborious digging is made much easier by the path of bhakti-yoga, which gives us easy access to Krishna. When we focus on remembering and serving him – not on rejecting worldly pleasures – we can tolerate the poison and glimpse the nectar even as novitiates.
By regularly reminding ourselves that reaching gold necessitates digging, we can determinedly persevere through the austerities on the spiritual path and ultimately reach the spiritual gold of eternal devotional happiness.
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