“Being attracted by external opulence, the non-devotee always forgets his intimate relationship with Krishna. Such a person does not like the idea of becoming Krishna conscious.”
– Srila Prabhupada (Purport to Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya, 12.184)
The four quadrants of a relationship with God
Now, let us merge both figures 1 and 2.
You have four quadrants in this new image in your mind (figure 3).
On the bottom left, we have quadrant 1- the space of no effort and no remembrance of God (Krishna).
On the bottom right is quadrant 2 – effort/struggle and no remembrance of Krishna.
On the top right we have quadrant 3 – the area of struggle/effort and remembering Krishna.
On the top left is the space of quadrant 4 – no struggle but total dependence on Krishna.
When you drive a car, you know when and how to change gears. Similarly, as you drive your spiritual life, you can know which quadrant you are situated in, and accordingly move higher up.
At any given point in time, simply ask a question: “Which quadrant am I in, right now?”
Lifestyle in four quadrants
Quadrant – 1: Relationship with God – Non-existent
Those living in quadrant 1 neither remember Krishna nor invest the concerted effort to progress in spiritual life. Of the three modes of nature, it is Tamo – or mode of Ignorance that binds them tightly. This is when illusion gets us and we land up doing things that betray our own values. This is a zone of sense gratification where our mind drives the chariot of our lives.
Bhakta das drives his car on a highway and it breaks down. If he lives in quadrant 1, he’d simply lament and curse the road or shout expletives.
Since he neither remembers God nor puts an effort to serve God, his relationship with Krishna is non-existent.
Quadrant – 2: Relationship with God – Passive
A quadrant 2 lifestyle is characterized by sincere effort and hard work. But the essence of Bhakti Yoga is to always remember Krishna and a practitioner fails on this front. Although it takes only a few moments to sincerely call out to God in love, our busyness sucks the nectar of remembering God from our lives, and we live with faith in our own abilities more than God’s help. Amongst the three modes, it is Rajo – Passion that binds a practitioner here. While in quadrant 1, it was his mind that held the reins of the chariot of his life, here in quadrant 2, one’s intelligence is active. He plans, organizes, studies, and takes charge of his life. But again God is conspicuous by absence, and instead of sense gratification, now it’s a zone of Struggle. You are holding the reins of the chariot of your life- you are in charge and you struggle.
Bhakta das – if he lived in quadrant 2- would call a mechanic and somehow manage to get help. He’d focus on solving the sudden crisis ASAP. He has faith in his own abilities and doesn’t consider depending on Krishna.
He is making a journey closer to Krishna by putting in some effort. Since he is externally a devotee, he does render some services to Krishna, albeit he is not aware of Krishna’s love and omnipotence. Even if he intellectually knows Krishna to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, still, he doesn’t believe in or trust Krishna’s protection. Therefore he doesn’t remember God favourably and his relationship remains passive.
Quadrant – 3: Relationship with God – Active
Quadrant 3 is when you add the element of Sattva – Goodness because now you have begun to take shelter of God. You remember Krishna while you continue the struggle. Your intelligence is active, yet you are also adding the principle of depending on Krishna in your life. You’ve begun to realize that it’s difficult to do things on your own – a lot of things aren’t in your control.
This is the ideal stage of our spiritual practice – where we put in the effort and also remember God with love.
Krishna asks Arjuna to remember Him and also fight the war (Bhagavad Gita 8.7). He was asking Arjuna to position himself in Quadrant 3.
To be continued…