The curse of illusion
There Bhagavad-Geeta says: “Out of thousands of men hardly anyone strives for perfection. Out of those striving yogis also, hardly anyone knows me in essence.” When I first read it, I was surprised. Consider its first part: Out of thousands of men, hardly anyone would seriously attempt linking with God. This is easily understandable, because there is a visible proof of it.
It is the other part of the verse which amazed me. Why hardly anyone from the ones who are attempting to link with God will know God in reality? One would assume that if someone is taking the trouble of doing this difficult exercise, he or she should succeed in knowing God in the true sense.
Lord Krishna states that they don’t, and now I realise why. God is the repository of everything, material as well as spiritual. And we can and do approach Him for either or both of the two. However, what does practically everyone aspire for? Material boons of course! Why? There is an overpowering illusion or ‘maya’ due to which everyone prefers material over spiritual.
Why do they do so? Because they fail to realise the spiritual aspect of God. Like everyone else, they remain focused on the material aspects of life. God is not the intended target for them; material benefits are.
A man seeks God for four reasons: When in trouble, when seeking material benefits, when one is inquisitive about God, and when one is cognizant of God. Obviously, the last one is the greatest beneficiary; he or she will get close to God. Once someone has tasted the resulting bliss, he or she is likely to continue pursuing the connection with God single-mindedly.
Therefore, we have two choices: Seek material objects and remain in perpetual bondage to the birth and death cycle, or seek God in the spiritual sense and get freed from this cycle. For those who stick with God, they get an additional advantage; they will feel liberated even while living.