The essence of liberation is not transportation but transformation
Seekers sometimes worry whether at the end of their lives they will be liberated and thus attain Krishna’s abode.
While such a worry is definitely better than worldly worry about material prosperity and pleasure, still it can, like worldly worry, be distracting. Worrying about future liberation can make us feel insecure and dis-enthuse us in our present practice of bhakti.
The best way to counter such worry is by refining our understanding of liberation – its essence is not transportation, but transformation. We become liberated not when we enter the spiritual world, but when we enter spiritual consciousness. Spiritual consciousness is defined by detachment from the material and, more importantly, attachment to the spiritual, specifically the highest spiritual reality, Krishna. Without such spiritual consciousness, even if we somehow get to the spiritual world, we won’t be able to stay there. The Srimad Bhagavatam in its ninth canto describes how the yogi-sage Durvasa went to Vishnu’s abode, but couldn’t stay there because he didn’t have the requisite consciousness.
Understanding liberation to be essentially a matter of inner transformation is empowering; it shifts our focus from worry about the future to the opportunity in the present.
In contrast, if we transform our heart and develop the pure spiritual consciousness that is the essence of liberation, then, as the Bhagavad-gita (05.19) indicates, we are already liberated even while we are still physically in material existence. Once inner transformation is effected, outer transportation is guaranteed – it’s just a matter of time, something that will naturally happen when our present body’s lifespan is exhausted.
Understanding liberation to be essentially a matter of inner transformation is empowering; it shifts our focus from worry about the future to the opportunity in the present. Every moment is a chance to progress towards liberation if we just choose Krishna and service to him instead of worldly pleasures. And choosing Krishna ensures not only our eventual liberation but also our devotional absorption and satisfaction even in this life.
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