Those who give up pleasure for principle gain life’s principal pleasure
However, the essence of spiritual life is not about giving up pleasure, but about gaining the best pleasure. Or more precisely it is about giving up material pleasure to gain devotional pleasure, which is life’s principal pleasure – a pleasure accessed through the principle of selfless service.
Even in material life, one gets higher sense of fulfilment by giving up a lower pleasure for a higher principle. For example, students may get some pleasure in fooling around in the campus, but by applying themselves to the principle of seeking education, they gradually get the higher pleasure of learning and growing and achieving something worthwhile in life.
It is the principle of selfless service that enables us to access the higher spiritual pleasure that is part of our essential spiritual nature.
We are all souls, eternal parts of Krishna, meant to delight in loving service to him. Why is devotional pleasure life’s principal pleasure?
Because it comes from our connection with the reservoir of all pleasure, Krishna. He is supremely attractive and supremely loving, fixing the mind on him is life’s principal pleasure. Krishna alone is unlimited, whereas all other sources of pleasure are limited. In fact, whatever else gives us pleasure is able to do so because, the Gita (10.41) indicates, it manifests a spark of Krishna’s all-attractiveness.
The Bhagavad-gita (05.21) points to this sacrifice when it describes that seers turn themselves away from outer pleasures and focus on the spiritual substance within. The highest spiritual substance is Krishna, and the easiest way to focus on him is by channelizing the power of love through bhakti-yoga. By imbibing the principle of selfless devotional service, we gain life’s principal pleasure.