Relief and release – the two fruits of purification
Purification is an oft-heard word in spiritual circles. What does it mean? And what is its benefit?
Purification essentially has two aspects: decrease of attraction towards impure material things, and increase in attraction towards pure spiritual things, ultimately towards the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna. These two aspects respectively provide two benefits: relief and release.
Relief : As long as we are impure, our lower desires impel us towards self-defeating activities. Just as a taskmaster drags an animal against its will towards a slaughterhouse, the taskmaster-like impurities drag us against our better sense towards self-destruction. The Bhagavad-gita (18.54) indicates that when we become purified and situated on the spiritual platform (brahma-bhuta), we relish profound inner fulfillment (prasannatma). This fulfillment reforms our vision: outer pleasures that seemed irresistible when we were impure no longer hold us spellbound. The reformed vision relieves us of the whole gamut of agitating emotions triggered by our impurities – emotions centered on lamenting and craving for things we don’t have (na shocati na kankshati). It is as if the taskmaster’s ropes get cut off. No more do we have to endure the tiresome inner struggle of feeling impelled to do something and knowing that we shouldn’t do it. We relish relief, sweet and sobering.
Release : Purification also revives our original attraction to Krishna (mad-bhaktim labhate param). This attraction releases the soul’s devotional energy that had been previously dormant because impurities had restricted our desires to material things. Our revived spiritual desires fill us with phenomenal devotional energy to do wonderful things for Krishna’s pleasure, and for our and others’ ultimate benefit. We relish release, sweet and intoxicating.
Thus, purification sets us free to use our God-given talents for a life of exciting and fulfilling service – a life that also prepares us for eventually attaining eternal ecstatic life with Krishna.
"One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me."