A resolution to end all your woes and make your every new year fulfilling.
I will quit drinking this year.” “I will quit smoking.” “I will spend more time with family and friends.”
These are a few of the resolutions people make and break every New Year.Other New Years resolutions that top the list are losing weight, saving money, better managing stress, finding a soul mate, fighting less with others, getting married, finding a better job, getting out of debt, becoming more organized-and so many others.
A close look at this common list reveals the woes people feel. Why vow to change something that’s making you happy? Obviously, many people have become addicted to drinking smoking, overeating, and other undesirable habits. They have stressed personal and family lives, and this stress seems to be increasing.Though the practice of taking a vow is a positive step toward change, as the famous adage states, “Vows made in storms are forgotten in calm.” In the passion and hope of a new year, vows are made, and in the dullness and mediocrity of the year that follows, they are broken.
Most of our New Years resolutions relate to our indulgence in gross sense enjoyment-activities that fill our hearts with greed, envy, and hatred. Our lives, like the characters on today’s reality shows, are being steered by degrading human emotions. Human emotions have become a toy in the hands of the media, who then present to us a culture of one-nightstands, infidelity, and intoxication as more emotionally fulfilling than the staid, dry lives we’ve been living. Such a lifestyle impacts society in myriad ways, including increased suicides, obesity, addiction, and burglary. The list is endless, which just points to the fact that there is real suffering driving people to make their New Years resolutions.
It does not take deep analysis to understand the cause behind this degradation: the decrease in spiritual values both in society and in ourselves. Without strong spiritual values and the emotional satisfaction that comes from a relationship with God, the heart tends to seek emotional fulfillment in places that don’t fulfill but leave us dry and dissatisfied and sometimes in trouble.We look for fulfillment through friendship, marriage, social networking, reading novels, sports, exotic travel, and when we don’t find it we wander into other pursuits. We need to ask ourselves,“Where am I heading?” It’s time for us to slow down and relook at our dry lives. Yes, we have closed our hearts to God. We have thrown spirituality out of our lives. When a living being-a soul-cuts off his or her connection with the Supersoul, he or she dies even as the heart continues to pump blood..
We have to realize that the degraded, karma-producing activities of sense enjoyment we engage in are the brutal enemy of spiritual emotion.They gradually harden the heart and in the end, leave it feeling barren. If we want to feel true, deep, and lasting emotion we have to revive something true and deep and lasting about ourselves: our relationship with Krishna.Revival of this relationship waters the seed of love in the heart. This process is called bhakti.
Bhakti, or devotional service to Krishna, is a way to engage the heart in spiritual love, and those who practice it brim so full with spiritual emotion that they no longer feel driven to do things that make them unhappy.
His Holiness Devamrta Swami, a prominent ISKCON guru, explains how the absence of emotional fulfillment creates a dangerous void in society and that this void is alleviated by practicing Krishna consciousness. In his book Bhakti-bhava he writes, “Krishna is the most expert at having emotional desires and fulfilling emotional desires.Lord Krishna has an attribute known as svarajya-laksmi.That means He has the ability to independently fulfill His emotional desires.” We have emotional desires because we are part of Krishna, but when He is absent from our lives our desires remain unfulfilled-we are unable to satisfy them without Him.
What is everyone’s greatest desire? To feel love and be loved. The greatest love is true to ourselves, and that love is love of Krishna. Therefore, our greatest fulfillment begins when we open our heart to loving Krishna. Krishna consciousness is not just a religious belief but the pinnacle of emotional expression and fulfillment. Nothing else in this world and no other religious process can do for us what Krishna consciousness can do in terms of awakening deep and satisfying emotions because only Krishna is capable of reciprocating with us perfectly.
This path of establishing a relationship with God takes focus. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (2.41), vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana: those who are on this path are resolute in purpose and their aim is one. Those who want to taste full satisfaction will have little time for tangents. Srila Prabhupada assures us it will take patience and perseverance if we wish to be successful.
Yet the determination pays off in so many ways. Practicing Krishna consciousness benefits us mentally, physically, socially, and economically. For example, a regulated life centered on Krishna saves us the time and energy we would have otherwise wasted in developing habits we later need to extract ourselves from.
So this New Years, when we resolve to become better people or quit our bad habits, pray to Krishna to give us the strength to keep these resolutions. Even that step toward Him will help revive our relationship with Him. Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.27, purport) states, “Lord Krishna is satya-sankalpa, or He whose desire, intention, purpose or resolve always comes to pass.Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura mentions that one should determine to revive one’s lost relationship with the Supreme Lord Krishna through the infallible means of devotional service, which can be executed at any time or in any place. Our sankalpa, or determination,