Avoiding Maya’s Traps
A conversation with His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Srila Prabhupada [hearing the bells and music from a passing ice cream truck]: What is that?
Disciple: An ice cream truck, Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, ice cream. [Laughter.] You are taking ice cream? Huh?
Disciple: No, Srila Prabhupada. Sometimes they make it with eggs or slaughterhouse by-products or who knows what. But anyway, the trucks go up and down the street.
Srila Prabhupada: Canvassing?
Srila Prabhupada [laughing as the ice- cream-truck music grows louder]: Don’t take ice cream. This is maya. [Laughter.] “Come on, come on—enjoy me. Come on, come on—enjoy me.” [He says it musically and laughs.] As soon as you enjoy, you become entrapped. That’s all.
Just like fishing tackle. The fisherman throws the bait and invites the fish, “Come on—enjoy me. Come on, come on—enjoy me.” And as soon as the fish tries to enjoy—hupp! [Laughter.] Finished. [Prabhupada imitates the choking sound of a hooked fish.] And then the fisherman looks at the fish and says, “Where will you go now? Come on into my bag. Yes. I’ll fry you nicely.”
You see? So these things are all explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The fish loses his life because of his uncontrolled tongue. He cannot check the dictation of the tongue; therefore, he loses his life. You see?
Similarly with the deer in the forest. The hunter will play very nice flute, and all the deer will assemble to hear him playing so nicely. In that way the hunter gets one of the deer into his trap, and the deer loses his life. In other words, just as the fish loses his life by tasting, the deer loses his life by hearing.
Tasting. Hearing. And the elephant is caught by sexual attraction. Do you know how the elephant is captured? Yes, a trained she-elephant goes to the male elephant, and he follows and drops into a big pit. He remains there for some time. Then he’s shackled and taken away. In this way the Bhagavatam offers various examples of how our material senses can trap us in illusion.
That big black bee—what is it called? Bhramara? What is the English name for that big black bee? [Making an illustrative buzzing sound:] Onnnhhh.
Srila Prabhupada: It may be. In any case, he is entrapped by smelling the lotus flower. He enters within the lotus flower and loses his life.
So, being pulled by just one uncontrolled sense, each of these different creatures is losing his life. And yet in this modern so-called civilization, we have got all our senses uncontrolled. So, just imagine, what our position is? These examples are from the animal and insect kingdoms, wherein only one uncontrolled sense is prominent. But in this modern so- called civilization, all our senses are uncontrolled. So what is our position? You see?
In this connection another example is given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Imagine a man who has got six wives, and he has entered his house, and suddenly all the wives are dragging him—“You come to my room.” You see? One wife has taken his left hand, another has taken his right hand, still another has taken his left leg, and yet another has taken his right leg, and so forth. And he’s wondering, “Where shall I go?”
You see? So in this modern society, this is our position as human beings—overwhelmed by so many senses which to date we have neglected to control. Instead of controlling the senses, most people are becoming servants of the senses. Most people are losing their opportunity, this great opportunity of human life—to control the senses in Krishna’s service and then go back to His eternal abode.
[A disciple raises his hand.] Yes?
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, those people who focus their attention on advancing to the higher material planets, where sense enjoyment is even more easily available—do they have even more opportunity to become entrapped?
Srila Prabhupada: No. Anyone within this material world is entrapped by this sense enjoyment. Either in the higher planets or in these middle planets or in the lower planets. For instance, among the human beings there is sense impetus, and among the lower animals there is sense impetus.
So both the human beings and the animals have sense impetus. Therefore we must ask, What is this so-called human being? We so-called civilized beings—what are we doing? The same thing that the lower animals are doing, namely eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. The same thing that the dog is doing.
Anyway, wherever you go in the material world, either in the higher planets or in these middle planets or in the lower planets, sense gratification is prominent. Only in the spiritual world is there no sense gratification. In the spiritual world there is simply an endeavor to satisfy Krishna. Here everyone is merely trying to satisfy his own senses. That is the law of the material world. That is material life. And as long as you go on trying merely to satisfy your own senses, you will stay in this material world.
But as soon as you turn your senses toward satisfying the senses of Krishna, you reawaken your spiritual life. It’s a very simple thing. Hrishikena hrishikesha-sevanam: use your senses to satisfy Krishna, the Lord, the master of your senses. That is bhakti. That is devotional service.
You have senses. So you have to satisfy them. Because you have these senses, you have to satisfy them. The question is how you can actually satisfy them. The proper method. But you do not know the proper method. The conditioned soul does not know that when he simply tries to satisfy Krishna’s senses, his senses will be automatically satisfied.
For instance, as I have said many times, if I want to see to the health of a tree’s branches and leaves, I do not pour water directly on them. Rather, I pour water on the root. Or if I want to see to the health of my arms and fingers, instead of trying to feed them directly I give the foodstuffs to my stomach, and automatically my arms and fingers are satisfied.
This secret we are missing. We are thinking we shall be happy by trying to satisfy our senses directly. Krishna consciousness means don’t try to satisfy your senses directly—try to satisfy the senses of Krishna. Automatically your senses will be satisfied. This is the secret of Krishna consciousness.
The opposite party—the karmis, or materialists—they are thinking, “Oh, why shall I satisfy Krishna? Why shall I work for Krishna the whole day and night? Let me work for my own satisfaction.” The devotees are working the whole day and night for Krishna, and the karmis are thinking, “What fools they are. We are very intelligent. The whole day and night we are working for our own sense gratification, and what benefit are they getting from working for Krishna?”
This is the difference between the materialists and the spiritualists. The spiritualists’ endeavor is to work the whole day and night strenuously, without any halt, simply for Krishna. That is spiritual life. And the materialists make the same endeavor, always trying to satisfy their personal senses. This is the difference between the materialists and spiritualists.
So the Krishna consciousness movement means that we have to train our senses to satisfy Krishna. That’s all. For so many thousands and millions of lifetimes we have simply tried to satisfy our personal senses. Let this lifetime be dedicated for satisfying Krishna’s senses. That is Krishna consciousness. At least dedicate this one lifetime. For so many lifetimes we have simply tried to satisfy our personal senses. Let this lifetime—at least this one lifetime—be dedicated for satisfying Krishna’s senses. Let me try and then see what happens. And we will not be the loser. Even if we sometimes wonder whether we are being inconvenienced by not directly satisfying our senses, still we will not be the loser.