Does Enlightenment Depend on Our Efforts?
Today I was asked a fantastic question:
There is no other cause to bhakti than bhakti itself. We need the causeless mercy of Srimate Radharani, Nityananda Rama and our guru to attain pure love. Does that mean that it is actually Srimate Radhikas love for Krishna that we, when we …are back with our spritual bodies, experience and offer to Krishna??? Is thinking that love of Krishna has it’s source in us a form of bewilderment, just like it is complete illusion to think that we are the doers of activities and the source of different qualities in this world? What we really are responsible for is our desires, but if we desire to put ourselves in a position where we can accept causeless mercy and bhakti, isn’t that a form of love already?
What a wonderful, wonderful question! I hope Sri Sri Radha and Krsna bless you immensely just for asking this excellent question!
Your question 1: Since only love can cause love, all love therefore comes from the original goddess of love – Srimati Radharani. Does that mean that the divine love we eventually attain for Krsna is really her love, not ours?
To answer: imagine an international music store, and look at all the different types of instruments that make music by being blown into. Flutes, Saxophones, Clarinets, etc. And in each group there are thousands of sub-types: Indian bamboo flutes, Japanese bamboo flutes, European silver flutes, Piccolos, South American pa-pipes, etc. etc. etc. etc.
Every single instrument makes music as a result of your breath blowing in it. Therefore the only cause of any music produced is your breath. It is similar to the fact that any love that we experience or express (divine or mundane) is ultimately the love expanded by the Goddess of love, Srimati Radharani.
But the sound produced by each and every instrument is individual and unique! The same breath blowing into different flutes produces uniquely different sounds. This is similar to the fact that each and every one of us experiences and expresses love as our own unique individual experience and expression.
So, the answer to your question is “simultaneously yes and no.” Yes Radharani’s love is the “life’s breath” of all love that exists. But when we offer our love to Krsna (or in anyway) it is actually our own unique individualized expression of Radharani’s love – so it is also our own.
Thus it is neither complete illusion nor complete reality to think that love of Krishna has it’s source in us. Love of Krsna has it’s source in Radhrani, the Goddess of Love just like the musicians breath emanates from her mouth. But that love of Krsna finds expression by coming THROUGH our individual, unique identities – just like the musicians breath creates unique music as it passes through unique types of instruments.
Although the breath of the musician is fundamentally important, the shape and quality of the instrument is also essential.
(This is also the case in how the living soul does activities within the world, while not entirely being the “doer.” All activity originates with the will of the individual soul – but that will is powerless to have any effect except when the supersoul enables that will to generate a tangible effect on the world.)
You say, “What we really are responsible for is our desires.” I think you hit the nail on the head!
You go on to say, “But if we desire to put ourselves in a position where we can accept causeless mercy and bhakti, isn’t that a form of love already?”
Again, you hit the nail on the head. Ontologically it becomes rather rigorous:
Q: How to we become enlightened to divine love of the divine beloved?
A: We cannot manufacture love, it most come of its own accord.
Q: Than how to we get it?
A: You must catch it, like you catch a disease from a person infected with a disease. So you must get divine love by coming into contact with a person who has divine love.
Q: Is this pure chance, then – determining who has the fortune to come into contact with lovers of the divine?
A: Not at all. To catch a disease from an infected person requires more than chance distant contact. There must be an intimate transaction between the two parties for the germ to be able to transfer. To get love of godhead you must OPEN yourself up to it. Be WILLING to accept it. Be DESIROUS of accepting it.
Therefore although we cannot manufacture realization of divine love, we CAN manufacture the situation that will cause divine love to descend into our hearts. In fact it is our first and foremost duty and adventure and quest and mission to do so!
Think of it like being a poor person and begging money from a rich person. TWO things have to coincide: (1) you have to make the EFFORT to beg, and (2) she has to have the MERCY to respond. This is how we attain divine love – it is a combination of our effort to beg for the rarest of all rarities, and the merciful response to our begging by those who have been blessed by the Mercy of Sri Radha.
I hope this helps. Thank you for the opportunity to attempt to express these wonderful topics.