Cruise Control
Yoga of Love Series #2

What does it mean to be a conditioned soul? It means that our eternal blissful knowledge is obscured by the influence of the modes of material nature. It’s just like shining a pure white light through a colored lens. That same light continues to shine, but it takes on the color of the lens. In the same way, our original consciousness has become subject to the conditions, or qualities, of the modes of material nature. We are never out of touch with our original spiritual consciousness. But, our experience of it is conditioned.

Love is a symptom of the soul. We are pure spirit soul. Therefore love is what we are. We are never without that love. But it is re-qualified by the modes of passion and ignorance, manifesting as a perverted, self-centered orientation. Therefore in order to be Krishna conscious, we have to become free of this influence.

In his introduction to Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Srila Prabhupada expresses this as follows: “In our original relationship with the Supreme Lord there is real love. That love is reflected through material conditions, but reflected pervertedly, and not exactly… in this material world, love lacks continuity…” Love means giving, feeling pleasure in the happiness and well-being of others. When this same energy is reflected in a perverted manner, it becomes self-centered and exploitive. The ability to experience the happiness of selfless service is lost, thereby robbing us of the inherent self-satisfaction of the soul, causing us to jump from one thing to the next, one person to the next, endlessly seeking and never experiencing fulfillment. We have to soberly contemplate the understanding that self-centeredness is a dead end, and that actual fulfillment is only found in taking pleasure in the happiness of God and all living beings.

How do we make this internal adjustment? Imagine, if you will, the temperature of your fridge. The fridge is cooled according to the thermostat setting. The same is true of the amount of love that we carry in our hearts. We are all moving through life, according to our individual cruise-control setting, without realizing that our present setting can be voluntarily adjusted. In the mode of ignorance we are almost on empty, feeling dark and undone. In the mode of passion we begin to reach out, to be fruitive, to be goal-oriented, to seek fulfillment in things outside of ourselves. And as the mode of goodness dawns we begin to sense the inner light of self-satisfaction. In Bhagavad-gita, 17.16-17, Krishna tells us that manah-prasada, “satisfaction of the mind”, is tapo manasam, the “austerity of the mind”, an austerity that is sattvikam, “in the mode of goodness”.

The fruitive demeanor and the devotional demeanor are mutually exclusive. The fruitive demeanor is a self-centered orientation; and the goal of the devotion is simply Krishna’s satisfaction, Krishna’s pleasure. Therefore before we can be devotional, we have to relinquish the fruitive orientation. Before we can give up the desire to be the controller and the enjoyer, we have to master the art how to become internally self-satisfied. But love is self-satisfied. Therefore the easiest way to become peacefully self-satisfied is to cultivate the ability to walk through life with love in our hearts. In that way we become doubly-qualified. On the one hand we are freed of our self-centered fruitive propensity. And on the other hand, we are able to approach Krishna with love in our hearts. This is the science of Bhakti Yoga, the science of Krishna consciousness.

We have to begin to monitor our individual cruise-control setting. How much love do we carry in our hearts? Are we capable of engaging in our duties in a loving, serving mood, happily accepting that Krishna is in control? Or do we find ourselves repeatedly struggling with life, in the arena of success and failure, victory and defeat?

This cultivation of love is our tapo manasam, our “austerity of the mind”, the austerity that gradually becomes a source of nectar. We have to experience the wondrous discovery that when our hearts are filled with love, we become effortlessly indifferent to dualistic concerns. We have to discover that to live in love is a choice, and that the happiness of love is always available to us. This is the beginning of understanding that “I am not this mind”, and that happiness is an inside job, independent of external conditions. This is the mode of goodness, the doorway to the brahma-bhuta platform. And we have to cultivate it, purposely, always retracing our steps when we lose our bearings. Until we try to live in this way, we won’t actually appreciate the intensity of our self-centered orientation. Therefore Krishna refers to this shift as tapo manasam, the austerity of the mind. And because it is an austerity requiring purposeful effort, Krishna describes this quality of happiness in the mode of goodness as “Poison in the beginning; nectar in the end”.

When we first come to Krishna consciousness we are addicted to self-centered processes. Krishna consciousness is our therapy. The therapy of the soul. As we cultivate our ability to bring love into focus in our hearts, we begin to feel Krishna’s presence. We begin to understand that Krishna loves us. And we begin to look forward to each new day as an opportunity to cultivate our relationship with Krishna. The only price we have to pay, is to make the subtle effort, to adjust our cruise-control level, switching gears into the love mode, and cultivating our ability to hold that setting. Then our Krishna consciousness comes to life, so that we can experience Bhakti Yoga, our connection with Krishna, through the medium of love.

By Ishan das