My dear Lynne Ludwig,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter from California dated November 27, 1972, and I have noted the contents carefully, although due to extensively travelling and preaching tour in India, I have not yet got the opportunity to reply you at length until now. Your complaint is that you have met two of my young disciples in California and they appeared to you as having "a very negative outlook towards the people they meet." Of course, I do not know the case, what are the circumstances, but kindly forgive my beloved disciples any unkindness or indiscretions on their part. After all, to give up one's life completely for serving the Lord is not so easy thing. And Maya, or the illusory material energy, she tries especially hard to try to get back and entrap those who have left her service to become Devotees. So sometimes in the neophyte stage of devotional service, in order to withstand the attack of Maya and remain strong under all conditions of temptation, young or inexperienced devotees will adopt an attitude against those things or persons possibly harmful, threatening to their tender devotional creeper. They may even over-indulge in such feelings just to protect themselves, and thus they will appear to some non-devotees, who are perhaps themselves still very enamoured by the material energy of Maya, as being negative or pessimistic.
But actual fact is that this material world is a miserable, negative place, full of danger at every step, duhkhalayam asasvatam, temporary abode of death, birth, disease and old-age, home of suffering and pain only. To come to that platform of understanding of things as they are, that is not a very common thing, and therefore such persons who attain to it, they are described as "great souls":
mam upetya punar janma duhkhalayam asasvatam napnuvanti mahatmanah samsiddhim paramam gatah (BG 8.15)
This verse is spoken by Krishna, or God, Himself in Bhagavad-gita so who can be more final authority? That means that anyone who has understood that the material worlds are places of misery and temporaryness, duhkhalayam asasvatam, they never return here again, and because they are mahatmanah, the great souls, Krishna keeps them with Him, having qualified themselves to escape this nasty place by becoming His pure devotees. So the point is that to make advancement in spiritual life, everything material, unless it is utilized to serve and please Krishna, must be viewed with a pessimistic eye. We are not very much hopeful for any lasting pleasure or satisfaction for our deepest cravings within this realm of gross matter.
You refer to the word "love" several times in your letter, but actual fact is there is no love in this material world. That is false propaganda. What they call "love" here is lust only, desire for personal sense-gratification;
kama esa krodha esa, rajoguna samudbhavah maha-sano maha-papma, viddhy enam iha vairinam
Krishna tells Arjuna, His disciple, that "It is lust only . . . which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world." In the Vedic language, their word for materialistic "love" as we call it at present day; "kama" lust for material desire, not love. The word for love, actually love we find in Vedas is "prema", meaning one's love of God, only. Outside God, there is no possibility of loving. Rather it is lusty desire the whole range of human activities, whatever and whenever, so long with this atmosphere of matter, the every activity of the human being—or any living entity—is based upon or given impetus, and thus polluted, by the attraction between male and female, sex-desire. For that sex-life, the whole universe is spinning round—and suffering! That is the harsh truth. So-called love, here, means "you gratify my senses, I'll gratify your senses," and as soon as that gratification stops: immediately there is divorce, separation, quarrel, hatred. So many things there are, going on under this false conception of love. Actual love means love of God, Krishna.