(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 24 November 2021, Goloka Dhama, Germany, Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.40)
I like to offer a little analogy of a group of people who were living in an oasis in the middle of a desert. One day, a stranger appeared there. This stranger brought very exotic fruits, very nice and tasty, something they had never tasted in the desert, something extraordinary. So everyone was impressed because desert life is limited to some dates, dried fruits and some camel milk. What else do they eat in the desert? Maybe some stewed cactus! But all in all, it gets a little bit limited after a while. So anyhow, the stranger was saying that actually these foods were coming from a wonderful land where everything was green. Most people said, “Come on, you know he is trying to be interesting, he just found it in another oasis. There are no such things there.” Others said, “There must be!” They had some faith and on the strength of their faith, they decided that they were ready to travel with the stranger and go into the desert to find this wonderful land.
Now, the oasis in our analogy is the oasis of sense gratification. Because they got a higher taste, they got some faith and were ready to leave the oasis of sense gratification. But immediately as they went into the desert, they were confronted with the burning sun of lust on their head, now unsheltered. Whereas in the oasis, they had some shelter for the lust in the form of sense gratification. So this is a very difficult phase and some people could not make it, some turned back whereas some just lost it and went off into the desert. A few persevered and those who persevered eventually came to a new oasis, the oasis of the mode of goodness. In the oasis of sense gratification, one is enjoying material life. In the oasis of goodness, one is enjoying spiritual life. But the enjoying propensity, the self-centeredness is still there. Therefore, the oasis of goodness is not good enough. One still has to go further. What really makes the breakthrough is if one lives a life of sacrifice – if one exits the oasis of goodness and voluntarily goes back into the desert for the welfare of others.
It is there that one can overcome this ātmendriya – this self-centeredness in trying to satisfy one’s own senses. In the oasis of uncontrolled sense gratification, the senses are ruling – the senses and the mind. In the oasis of goodness, the senses are controlled by regulated principles but are still pushing very strongly. It is therefore still a struggle. Like I said, particularly in this age, it is the sankirtana yajna – the congregational sharing of the transcendental glorification of Krsna and His Holy Name – that can make the difference. It is there where we can really rise above. It is said that balavān indriya-grāmo vidvāṁsam api karṣati (Srimad Bhagavatam 9.19.17) – the senses are so strong that even a man of learning is struggling, even one who knows is still in trouble because the knowledge is a symptom of the mode of goodness – knowledge is not enough. One cannot be Krsna conscious just on the strength of higher knowledge. Then one is weak and one will be prone to fall down. It is only when we are getting a taste in devotional service that one breaks through!