For the godly, illusion is occasional; for the ungodly, illumination is occasional
We live in a world where illusion reigns. The Bhagavad-gita (02.60) states that illusion can snare even the godly, even those who are discerning and determined.
If they are not transcendental to illusion, why are they considered godly? Because they are resilient amidst illusion. As soon as they realize that they have slipped or fallen, they pick themselves up and resume their life of virtue. Their lapses into illusion are incidental and occasional.
Opposite are the ungodly: their stay in illusion is intentional and perpetual. Believing that illusory sensual pleasures are life’s defining purpose (16.11), they rationalize, normalize and maximize illusion. They become so dominated by illusion that they do even religious activities for illusory purposes, for showing off how pious they are (16.15).
When life’s inevitable reversals batter them, driving home the ephemerality of worldly pleasures, they get some realization and renunciation. Unfortunately, that illumination doesn’t last for long. Why not? Because the same external forces that trigger detachment soon present allurement too. For illumination to be steady, they need to shift their focus from externals to internals: to the supremely illuminating spiritual reality, God, Krishna. Only by sustained connection with God can they gradually rise from ungodliness to godliness.
What does all this imply for us seekers who are living in today’s ungodly culture and are having formidable ungodly tendencies? If we give in to the ungodly forces within and without, our illumination will only be occasional; we will regularly relapse into illusion.
Thankfully however, if we nourish our godly core by striving to stay connected with Krishna, then we increasingly move into the ranks of the godly. And the steadier and stronger we make our Krishna-connection, our lapses into illusion will become increasingly shorter and rarer till ultimately our illumination becomes perennial and relishable.
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