41. Discover The Bitter Truth Of “La Dolce Vita”!

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“When the embodied being is able to transcend these three modes associated with the material body, he can become free from birth, death, old age and their distresses and can enjoy nectar even in this life.” Bhagavad Gita 14.20

The Vedas state that there is some taste beyond the three qualities of material nature.

The living entities always try to enjoy something, even the lowest creatures seek out their food and tastes; they crawl, sniff and pick something out of matter. Everyone is searching for some sort of tastes, but all these tastes are in the three qualities of material nature: ignorance, passion, and only the best of men and demigods know what is a taste in goodness. But the majority of living beings enjoy lower tastes.

However, there are other tastes that are beyond the three modes of nature which one can experience even being in this body. And it’s possible if one starts to try it out and get used to the taste of the higher nature now. It requires a bit of a practice, because this spiritual taste is not immediately and easily available to a living entity. So far we have access to material tastes only.

It is very important for us to experience different tastes. Tastes for the physical body is the same as the emotions for the mind. Tastes and emotions are very closely connected with each other. Tastes are directly linked to our emotions and needs. And as the mind has to experience various emotions, so the body requires various tastes.

There are six basic tastes or moods ( rasas ):

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“Madhu rasa” or sweet. This taste is the highest of all, and it gives a feeling of deep satisfaction, completeness and fullness. Sweet taste completes any feast when served in the end. Even if you’re full, there will always be some room for sweets. But excessive sweet taste leads to laziness, apathy, greed, and of course, diabetes.

Salty taste is called “Lavana rasa”. In a positive sense it gives an interest and zest for life. If a preparation is under-salted, it is not really tasty. It is difficult to live without a salty taste. Therefore, in any fast-food eatery places there’s salt, pepper and some other flavour enhancer on the table. But if it’s too much of salty flavour, then an excessive craving for sensual pleasure develops or, hedonism, which means that sensual pleasure becomes the purpose of life.

Sour taste is called “Amala rasa” and it gives a person a sense of ownership and competition. An excess of this taste gives rise to envy and resentment.

Bitter taste is called “Tikta rasa”, and as a natural tonic it gives a feeling of mild dissatisfaction and strife for perfection. An example of the bitter taste could be neem leaves or grapefruit. But too much of this taste brings about grief and illusion. However such states of consciousness do not exist for the soul. When the living entity is under this illusion it only seems to him that he is suffering.

Pungent taste is called “Katuka rasa”, it is found in black pepper and ginger, these are the sattvic peppers. Red hot chili is not on the list, it is a tamasic taste, Chili was introduced and imported from South America by the Portuguese and mistakenly associated with Indian culture; with Indian, but not with the Vedic. This Pungent taste gives a sense of heat and warmth, encourages people to build good warm relations and be extroverts. An excess of pungent taste stimulates anger.

And last astringent taste is called “Kashaya rasa”, one can feel it in pomegranate, persimmon or chokeberry. It gives a rough “sandpapery” or dry sensation in the mouth. On the emotional level it adds to introverted state and can lead to a state of isolation, fear or even madness.

All this are the tastes of the material world ( Jada rasas – gross tastes of the material world ) that are required to a certain extent, but unfortunately that’s all we have at our disposal. In other words, we do not have access to a higher taste, because a higher taste is derived from the spiritual energy only.

Of course the underlying main taste that makes life enjoyable is sweet. The pleasures or enjoyment in this world can’t be without sweet rasa.

There is an Italian idiom “la dolce vita” or “sweet life”. Another words, it is an ideal, everyone wants sweet life. Sweetness is associated with some success, completeness and comfort. Sweet taste is present everywhere.

A newly born child enjoys the breast milk, which is sweet. It makes a child peaceful and satisfied. As the main taste it stands out among the others and it includes all other tastes. That is why a little bit of sweet milk is enough to satisfy the baby.

But this is just the beginning. It all begins with the milk, then different sweets, chocolates, candies and finally the adult sweet sexual relationships. All these sweet experiences are the reflection of the higher taste or madhurya rasa of the spiritual realm.

So, the spiritual world is the source of madhurya rasa, where the living beings exchange pure relations and pure tastes. In the material world the living beings exchange mostly their karma and inferior tastes, ruining each other’s lives.

thank_god_im_an_atheist_shirt-rb6a3737c6f3a4b21924a5755581502f7_8nax2_512However the spiritual life means to rediscover again how to exchange pure love which means to exchange the higher taste. This can be sweet by taste or sweet by mood. Sweet emotions are the kind and positive emotions.

In order to experience a higher taste, one must first at least believe that it exists, because for most people it’s a big question. They are convinced that there is nothing beyond the ordinary material life. And these doubts are not unreasonable.

Nowadays people can easily say without a second thought: “I’m an atheist, I do not believe in God”.

Well, if we interpret it into the language of the Vedas, it simply means “I’m not pious”. A person might think that he said: “I do not believe in God,” but in actuality he said, “I’m quite sinful”.

Ok, what’s the connection?   Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita 7.28:

“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination.”

Another words, Krishna explains that the foundation of faith and spiritual life is nothing else but piety. If a person has no faith, he says: “I do not believe in God!  I’m not pious, I don’t have the foundation which my faith can be based upon”.

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Just as a child can use a chair to reach the top shelf of the pantry room where the candies are kept, in the same way in order to get a higher taste of the higher realm, one needs to use some sort of leverage. If this leverage of piety is not there, then a higher taste won’t be available.

Thus the Vedas declare two things: for those who are ready to accept a direct spiritual process – Bhakti yoga, they give a higher taste of Krishna bhakti or loving service to God. But for those who are not ready, the Vedas recommend to begin climbing on a chair of piety or engage in karma kanda – self dedication to doing good, helping people, donating money for the good cause etc., in other words one needs to build the foundations of one’s piety, to be worthy of the higher taste.

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When a person is not pious, he may pass by the divine manifestations and not notice them, even directly contacting with them. Therefore, when there is no connection with a higher understanding, then there’s no emotion associated with this understanding.

When a person takes up the direct path and has access to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, His confidential sublime form as a source of everything, is a sign of one’s great piety.

So, the purpose of life in the material world is to accumulate as many material elements as possible that give the usual mundane familiar taste, get attached to them, to surround yourself with them, multiply them and to bequeath them.

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The goal of spirituality is to gradually move away from it all, gradually acquiring the higher taste, just as a caterpillar transports itself from one leaf to another by capturing one leaf before giving up the other. Such is the way of the gradual transition from the material to the spiritual energy.

The 16th century autobiographical book on Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (the incarnation of God in the Kali Yuga) has a story of life of a great saint Raghunatha Das Goswami.

He did not immediately become such a renunciant and a saint; being spiritually immature in his youth he tried to speed up the events in his life, he tried to give up all the family responsibilities for the sake of joining the Chaitanya’s spiritual revolutionary movement.

He was born as the son of a wealthy landowner, he possessed land, animals, big house, servants, a beautiful wife, and everything else that a man can only dream of. But internally Raghunatha wanted something else, something more meaningful. And when Raghunatha met Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he decided to leave home. He tried it a few times, and he had been caught and brought home a few times.

And when Chaitanya found out about it, He instructed Raghunatha:

“Be patient and return home. Do not be a crazy fellow. By and by you will be able to cross the ocean of material existence. You should not make yourself a show-off devotee and become a false renunciant. For the time being, enjoy the material world in a befitting way and do not become attached to it. Within your heart you should keep yourself very faithful, but externally you may behave like an ordinary man. Thus Krishna will soon be very pleased and deliver you from the clutches of illusion”. (Caitanya Caritamrita Madhya 16.237-239)

And when the right time came, all his family affections and attachments naturally faded away and he became one of the most renounced saints of the time.

The transition to a higher taste should be the primary goal of our life, but like any great plan, it might not be implemented straight away, but gradually step-by-step in a natural way.

And as Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita:

“All these performers who know the meaning of sacrifice become cleansed of sinful reactions, and, having tasted the nectar of the results of sacrifices, they advance toward the supreme eternal atmosphere.” (Bhagavad Gita 4.30)

Another words, human life is a life in the spirit of sacrifice that should satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Virtually all the Vedas say that to gain the higher taste, one needs to sacrifice the lower. Therefore, the essence of all spiritual practices, renunciation, sacrifice, etc. should be for the satisfaction of Lord Krishna.

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