Reality is not as rosy as our dreams, but neither is it as scary as our nightmares

We often see life with rose-tinted glasses because of the media propaganda that unending sensual bliss is available through worldly enjoyment. These fantasies are deflated when the actual pleasures are found to be meager and measly.

Unfortunately however, the fantasies soon get re-inflated because our innate need for happiness makes us gullible – it makes us believe that the drop of pleasure the world dangles before us will turn out to be oceanic the next time we indulge in it. Given our gullibility, the Gita’s unflinching characterization (08.15) of this world as a distressful place serves as a healthy reality-dose.

However, if we misapply this characterization, we can veer to the other extreme wherein nightmares about everything going wrong leave us paralyzed and paranoid. Obsessive fearfulness, the Gita (18.35) indicates, characterizes the mode of ignorance. If we consider our past level-headedly, we can note that most of the things we worried about never happened. But sometimes things did go wrong, our mind darkly whispers, thereby rationalizing and aggravating our fearfulness.

To go beyond both unhealthy dreaming and unhealthy fearing, we need to situate ourselves in spiritual reality. Gita wisdom explains that we are eternal souls presently trapped in material existence where our aspirations for pleasure are frustrated sooner or later. But those aspirations can be fulfilled at the spiritual level in our eternal relationship with Krishna. The more we take shelter of him through the practice of bhakti-yoga, the more we can negotiate the reality of material existence as we encounter it, not as we dream or dread it. Finding calmness and contentment in him, we resist both fantasy and fear.

When we thus focus on serving Krishna practically, we grow in our relationship with him, relishing therein the supreme safety and the supreme joy.

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