Mercy is kindness delivered from the Supreme Power. People are partaking of mercy whether they acknowledge it or not; Krishna's Mercy shines into all the acts of the universe.
Our position as living entities is that we have sensual bodies. According to Vedic wisdom we have these bodies because we wanted them:
"All beings are born to delusion Bharata, overcome by the dualities
which arise from wish and hate, O Conquerer of the foe." (7.27 Bhagavad Gita)
In delusion, hating God, we thought we could better enjoy ourselves as lords of matter and so, at our wish, we have been put into these bodies which are bound by the three-fold miseries (those arising from the body and mind, those inflicted by other living entities, and those inflicted by Nature). Chief among these are the miseries of birth, death, old age and disease. And yet this very state of temporal life, beset with unavoidable misery, is revealed, on thoughtful examination, to be the mercy of the Supreme.
In our original constitutional position we are infinitesimal fragments of the Supreme Consciousness:
"The living entities are eternally fragmental parts of Me. They are dragging on in a bitter struggle for existence in the material Nature, with the six senses including mind." (15.7 Bhagavad Gita)
We cannot lose this status, even entangled in the delusions that led to our desiring the perishable body, we cannot lose our eternal part and parcel constitution. Being put into material bodies is God's mercy, and being given the chance to return to Him is also His mercy. This constantly radiating mercy of the Lord is without cause. We are His fragmental portions and He is compassionate toward us, even if we make ourselves strangers and enemies to Him.
His mercy is clearly seen in the Sanskrit word Maya. Maya means "what is not." It also has a second meaning- "God's grace". It works this way: Maya is the illusory energy, the material world. Maya is what is perishable, what we living entities take as the real and the all-in-all. These 60 to 100 years of life, the family ties, the working hard for a living, the struggle to get on, the struggle to enjoy with mind and body, the attachment to matter as the final substance these temporal things work as illusion when we think of them as permanent. In other words, when we forget God and look on the world without Him, we are in illusion. When we do not transcend this world, that is Maya.
But Maya is also "God's grace." If we want illusion, it is granted to us. God has the power to smash us into powder for being disobedient sons, but as we go on, forgetful of Him, constructing our Times Squares of the world and living for the 'enjoyment' of our blunt, misery-bound senses, the Supreme Lord gives us does not deny us this freedom for mischievous self-damage. He has shown us the approach to Himself- to Him Who is defined as Sat–Chit–Ananda Vigraha, eternity, knowledge and bliss in their fullness and we choose instead to mate and sleep, to defend and eat alone. And for this revolt we are given more mercy; we are given more and more of what we want, even if what we want is the lower animal status, or hell. And so the transmigration of the eternal individual soul progresses.
If we live demoniac lives we are granted more of the same that is, mercy. The godly rise and reach His abode. The demons refute their eternal portion and come back to this world to enjoy the pangs of duality (i. e. pleasure and pain, life and death, heat and cold, etc.) If you study it, you can see that the world is all-merciful: whoever wants problems, has them. The Lord has granted you the facilities to spend your life as you wish. You have His instruction and can lift yourself or be your own enemy. In the Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna states:
"Fixing thy thought on Me, thou shalt, by My grace, cross over all difficulties; but if, from self-conceit, thou wilt not listen, thou shalt perish." (18.58 Bhagavad Gita)
After many births a person may find himself disillusioned with Maya and the pleasures of the body, or if he is so fortunate he may have gained some devotion toward the transcendental Lord of all life and such a person may desire to go back to Home, back to Godhead where there is real pleasure in association with Krishna.
"Those men of virtuous deeds in whom sin has come to an end, freed from the delusion of dualities, worship Me steadfast in their vows." (7.28 Bhagavad Gita)
To live for the pleasure of the merciful Lord is called devotional service. Everything is God's; the flowers, the grains, the morning, the opportunity contained in a human life, everything goes back to Him, just as the streaming sunlight, which penetrates every corner of darkness, can be followed back to its source in the sun. Life in devotional service is the offering of the consciousness in everything we do, as a gift to Krishna. We are assured in the Bhagavad Gita that He will accept our gesture.
"Whosoever offers to Me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, that offering of love, of the pure of heart I accept." (9.26 Bhagavad Gita)
When we offer our food to the Lord that is called prasadam, which in Sanskrit means "mercy". When we offer our speech, our bodily acts and our human consciousness, this is also devotional service, and releases us from the bondage of birth and death and brings inner peace and equipoise to all our hours. This service is the secret of yoga, described as the "plus" to life or the link with Godhead. Once it is attained, one never comes back to the perishable and sorrowful. This is confirmed by scriptures:
"Achieving that transcendental devotional service a man becomes perfect, immortal and peaceful." (Narada Bhaktisutra, Code 4)
"Great souls who are engaged in devotional service and attain the Supreme Lord do not again come back to this miserable material conditional life." (8.15 Bhagavad Gita)
But how does this state come about? If, admittedly, long long ago we chose these bodies for sensual enjoyment, in ignorance how does enlightenment come about? That too, is Krishna's mercy. We don't grow wise automatically. Whenever anyone takes a step away from dullness or ignorance, that is a manifestation of His mercy. That is why a yogi or a devotee is called a fortunate man. Every individual life is an opportunity for one to realise his actual goal and purpose those who don't miss the opportunity are receiving the mercy of the Lord. Swami Bhaktivedanta writes:
"Such pure devotional service of the Lord cannot be achieved without the mercy of the pure devotee or the bona fide Spiritual Master, and the Supreme Lord Himself. If some body is fortunate enough to find a pure devotee for his Spiritual Master, then that Spiritual Master by his causeless mercy imparts the knowledge of pure devotional service… only by the combined mercy of the Supreme Lord and the Spiritual Master." (from the Purport to Code 8, Narada Bhaktisutra)
The present age is called Kali Yuga, a period of 432,000 years symptomized by quarrel and disorder. Evidence of Kali Yuga is seen in people's turning away from God. In our own country, the USA, and in this city of New York, we can see the proud citadel of Maya in its arrogant, temporal victory. Witness the flags and towers of uptown buildings dedicated completely to the 80-100-year life span of economics, politics and sense pleasure. The insidious illusion and perversion of mass advertising has dulled millions into daily acceptance of a nightmarish war on the integrity of the human mind. Add to this the administrative cheating, the promotion of political wars, the disillusionment of the nonconformists and the bewilderment of the drug-takers and you have perfect ingredients for Kali Yuga. And it is supposed to get worse.
Simultaneously, we are witnessing the mercy of Swami Bhaktivedanta's Samkirtan movement. Swamiji is in the line of disciplic succession from Lord Chaitanya, Who originated the movement of chanting the Lord's Holy Name 500 years ago in India. Chaitanya's movement is the magnanimous light of Supreme mercy shining through the death-fog of Kali Yuga. Lord Chaitanya offers to all Mankind the invitation to sing God's Name, and join with Him in our original association.
Even an intelligent man is pelleted and polluted by the constant force of mass media; and so it grows increasingly difficult for him to see his real obligations in this life. But we do have obligations. We all have the human form of life and our single purpose should be to realise ourselves and to discover the ultimate goal for which we are living. That goal is Krishna.
By chanting God's Name in the age of Kali Yuga, The Lord is conveniently available to everyone through the Mercy of Lord Chaitanya. Swami Bhaktivedanta writes:
"Lord Chaitanya is especially merciful to the innocent, unsophisticated person. His name is Patitpama, or the deliverer of the most fallen conditioned soul." (from Teachings of Lord Chaitanya)
Lord Chaitanya is offering every man, woman and child this gift: simply chant the Lord's Name, and you will see that with this chanting, comes everything else truly desired-the blessing of the full moon of pleasure and peace. Through the magnanimity of Lord Chaitanya what is available is the greatest gift Love of Godhead, and it is simply handed over. This strong, helping hand of Lord Chaitanya is so direct that many may miss it; they think their entanglement and the world's entanglement to be so complicated that any direct solution is a hoax. But nothing is too complicated for God. Nor do those who have seriously tried the chant speak of it except in terms of strength and ecstasy and constant revivification, as though they have drunk of a secret, magic water from an eternal source.
The people who have taken to chanting in this age are fortunately released from all desires and impure hankerings even while moving in the midst of materialistic insanity. Those who are constantly chanting the Lord's Name are not troubled by impersonal conceptions of void or atheism, nor do they foolishly think themselves God. It is said that Krishna Himself takes control of such surrendered souls and brings them further to Himself, The All Attractive. In the Vedic scripture Srimad Bhagawatam, set down 5000 years ago, it is stated:
"In this age of Kali, people who are endowed with sufficient brain substance worship the Lord, Who is accompanied by His associates, by performance of Samkirtan Yajna (Sacrifice by chanting the Holy Name." (Srimad Bhagawatam 1st canto)
Again, note that the gift is "endowed." Mercy is operating. We begin to chant and the highest reciprocation between the Supreme Lord and His infinitesimal sparks is at once established and grows ever greater, more intimate, and more pure. Instead of spending our time engrossed in the senses and the temporal world, we are singing His Name; and as we sing we realise that He is the giver of all abilities, even the mis-spent. Then, how fortunate to be singing the Name of the Source- while at the Feet of the Source itself! The Lord has endowed His Name with His full presence. Hare Krishna, Hare Rama is a sound incarnation. It is not an ordinary thing. It is not a laborious exercise. Nor is the chant a secret guarded by a few priests. In this age of severely limited concentration, Samkirtan is the auspicious way to God. Here indeed is the highest mercy for the living entities.
Satsvarupa das Brahmachary (Stephen Guarino)