The Secret of Enlightened Enjoyment
“I want enlightenment, but I can’t give up enjoyment. What should I do?” This is the predicament of many of us as aspiring devotees who find ourselves caught in an inner tug of war between our spiritual aspirations and our material addictions.
Gita wisdom solves our predicament by exposing its false premise: the misconception that enlightenment is itself not enjoyable. The Gitareveals the secret that enlightenment offers us the supreme happiness in contrast with which even the best material enjoyment pales into insignificance.
The journey to enlightened enjoyment begins with the preliminary teaching of the Gita that we are not our material bodies but are spiritual souls. As souls, we have a natural capacity and an eternal birthrightto relish unlimited enlightened happiness by devotionally connecting with Krishna, who is the reservoir of all happiness.
To attain this happiness, we need to redirect our thoughts from the material to the spiritual, from worldly objects to the source of all those objects: Krishna. Because our mind is habituated, even addicted, to contemplating on worldly objects in the hope of getting some pleasure, the prospect of giving up that worldly contemplation and enjoyment seems like poison.
Fortunately, we can tolerate the poison by gently but firmly fixing our mind on Krishna. To make meditation on him easier, Krishna makes himself available to us in various accessible and relishable manifestations like his sweet holy names and his gorgeous Deities.When we consciously and lovingly contemplate on such manifestations of Krishna, that contemplation becomes the channel which gradually fills and eventually floods our consciousness with uninterrupted, unending fulfilment that is akin to a constant flow of nectar. The Bhagavad-gita (18.37) states this secret of enlightened enjoyment poetically: that which tastes like poison in the beginning will taste like nectar in the end.
“That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.”