Self-realization leads to the understanding that everything is situated in the Supreme Lord. At that time there is no more illusion or lamentation, and everything is wonderfully harmonized. One sees the whole material universe as a manifestation of unity in diversity. On this platform everything is full of happiness, knowledge, and eternity. This is the platform of Brahman realization.
In this realized state, we perceive Lord Nārāyaṇa's presence not only in all living beings but also in all nonliving things. When the darkness of ignorance cloaking our consciousness is dissipated by the merciful light of knowledge emanating from the spiritual master, we gain spiritual vision and can see that every object is directly linked with the Supreme Lord.
There are various stages of elevation the jīva goes through, which are like different shells (koṣas) covering him. They are the coverings of food (anna-maya), life air (prāṇa-maya), mind (mano-maya, or jñāna-maya), and transcendental knowledge (vijñāna-maya). When the final shell is penetrated, the soul attains pure consciousness, enters the state of complete bliss (ānanda-maya), and experiences sac-cid-ānanda as universal. First the soul has covered consciousness, then he reaches the stage of budding consciousness, then blossoming consciousness, and finally fully blossomed consciousness. And all the while he experiences a gradual expansion of bliss—but only in relation to Lord Kṛṣṇa and His devotional service. At the final stage, flowers, fruits, plants, trees, clay—all objects and elements—become spiritualized by being used in Lord Kṛṣṇa's service. In other words, nothing is seen to be separate from the Lord. As the Īśopaniṣad (1) explains, īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvaṁ: (ISO 1) "Everything animate or inanimate that is within this universe is controlled and owned by the Lord."
To see God everywhere and in every living entity is not the final word in self-realization; one needs to see Him in all events, in every activity, in every thought influencing everyone's life, including one's own. Two things are indispensable for acquiring such a vision: first we must offer the results of all our activities to Lord Kṛṣṇa, and second, every action we perform must be done exclusively as devotional service to Him. We must constantly meditate on the fact that Lord Kṛṣṇa is the only enjoyer and proprietor of every action. As the Lord says in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.24-27),
- ahaṁ hi sarva-yajñānāṁ
- bhoktā ca prabhur eva ca
- na tu mām abhijānanti
- tattvenātaś cyavanti te
- yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi
- yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
- yat tapasyasi kaunteya
- tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam
I am the only enjoyer and master of all sacrifices. Therefore, those who do not recognize My true transcendental nature fall down. Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform—do that, O son of Kuntī, as an offering to Me.
Considering everything material, some people make a show of renunciation and reject even those things that can be used in the Lord's service. This is futile. All objects in the material world are meant not for our enjoyment or gratification but for the Lord's service. This is the mood of one in transcendental consciousness, or superconsciousness. And all activities performed in this consciousness constitute true renunciation, or yukta-vairāgya, as opposed to false renuniciation, or phalgu-vairāgya. By instructing Arjuna to act in this way, the Supreme Lord has ordered us to do so as well. It is our duty to execute His instruction. Whatever the result may be, we must be convinced that all such activities are all-auspicious. As the Lord says in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.28):
- śubhāṣubha-phalair evaṁ
- mokṣyase karma-bandhanaiḥ
- vimukto mām upaiṣyasi
In this way you will be freed from bondage to work and its auspicious and inauspicious results. With your mind fixed on Me in this principle of renunciation, you will be liberated and come to Me.
Real perfection in yoga comes when we forget our personal demands and determine what service the Lord wants from us. Personal interest must be sacrificed, along with our conceptions of good and bad, right and wrong, necessary and unnecessary, ans so on. We must emulate that great warrior Arjuna and try to find out what service the Supreme Lord wants from us. Such Kṛṣṇa conscious activities alone will lead us to the full consummation of all our duties, and the results will be all-auspicious. This degree of fixed faith is indispensable to progress.