Real Relief and Joy

Why try to forget life’s hardships through mind-numbing diversions, when you can escape to the pleasure of reality?

The glories of the Lord, God of all creation, as He appears in His original form as Krishna fill the pages of the book before me. The Srimad-Bhagavatam delivers excitement, adventure, love, bravery and battles, the inner and outer struggles of real people interacting with the Lord. Immersed in a swirling eddy of soothing nectar, I forget all worries.

Life in the material world is painful and hard. Some people will say it’s full of joys, but those joys have a price, and they ebb and flow with time. The joy is never constant or certain, and it usually results from or leads to misery.

People often look for relief in imagination and entertainment—books, art, movies, theater, music, television, computer games. And they often try to enhance the entertainment with chemical intoxication, from mild to menacing. Others seek relief by absorbing themselves in their work or relationships, which often cause grief. Some people seek refuge in nature, travel, or sports.

There are as many ways to escape pain as there are people. And yet, if we are honest, we’ll admit that whatever we do to find happiness and ease pain, life is not an unending, ever-increasing source of deep and broad happiness.

In resignation we might conclude that whatever joys we get are all that can be gotten. Yet the soul seeks pleasure, having as its right and natural condition an existence of expansive spiritual bliss. We can find bliss here, but it’s independent of our material situation. It’s available through contact with the Lord. Because He is full of bliss, connecting with Him revives the happy nature of the soul, who, though infinitesimal, is of the same nature as God.

To gain the true happiness we seek, spiritual teachers throughout the ages have recommended prayer and the hearing of scripture. The descriptions of God in Vedic scripture and the intimacy of the prayer that is the Hare Krishna mantra can bring us to a broad, deep connection with God available to very few in other traditions. Vedic scripture gives us God as He is—enjoying with perfected souls in His own domain, a realm for His own pleasure. And the Hare Krishna maha- mantra gives us the ultimate names of the Lord and His supreme energy.

Vedic scripture and the maha-mantra take us beyond God as the creator, the deliverer, the terrible and jealous God who punishes evil and rewards good, to God as Krishna, the supreme enjoyer, the ultimate lover and friend.

Reading about Krishna is beyond relief; it is a positive happiness that automatically distances me from worldly struggles as I awaken to my true nature. Fully hearing Krishna’s name as I chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare has the same effect: I am at once beyond trouble and immersed in joy.

As I close my book or put down my chanting beads, the joy can stay with me by remembering Krishna’s deeds and the sound of His name. It is so simple, yet so sublime.