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- You do love your Dog -
But where Is Your Love For God?

Symptoms of Love: When we love someone we are anxious to please them. We demonstrate that by offering them gifts, taking them to places they enjoy, or cooking their favorite meal.  When we love someone we also tend to thing about them all the time and cherish pictures and items that remind us of them. The Hallmark Greeting Cards Company built an entire business from these very normal human expressions of affection. So demonstrating our love doesn't require great expense or elaborate arrangements.  It can be done with very simple gestures. Even the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna indicates that He is pleased when someone offers something as simple as a blade of grass to Him devotionally!

patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam asnami prayatatmanah

"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it." -Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Chapter 9 "The Most Confidential Knowledge", Text 26. LINK:

 In most cases what we call love in today"s world is often just a tacit business agreement for mutual sense gratification!   In other words, people use the word love to announce that they have agree to do things for each other that they hope will bring them mutual happiness.   More often then not, if the happiness doesn't come, then one of the two parties cancels the "love" contract by walking out, divorcing, and even sometimes aggressively attacking the person they formerly "Loved" with aggressive law suits and hateful propaganda. 

We all have a sense that real love isn't something that gets turned off and on like a stovetop, and yet there seems to be a lot of confusion regarding where a more fulfilling alternative is to the usual "hot-n-cold" relationship.  This is where some people find themselves allured by the higher non-physical type of spiritual love we hear about from the saints, prophets, and avatars who drew strength from non-temporal sources.   The Six Gosvamis of Vrindaban were some of those rare souls.  Although they were very successful by any material standard in regards to economic stability and social status they completely renounced those accomplishments in a way that is very similar to the more well known Saint Francis of Assisi.   Their relationship with the Supreme Lord fully matured and from that elevated state of consciousness they confirmed what the Maha-jnanas (Great Personalities) have declared for millennia:

"When one develops an unflinching sense of ownership or possessiveness in relation to Lord Visnu (God), or, in other words, when one thinks of Visnu and no one else to be the only object of love, such an awakening is called bhakti [devotion] by exalted persons like Bhisma, Prahlada, Uddhava and Narada. (Maha-jnanas)

The Six Gosvamis provided written descriptions to help us all understand the path the conditioned soul will follow as it evolves from the narcissistic material consciousness to a fully restored deeply loving relationship with the Supreme Lord.

kona bhagye kona jivera 'sraddha' yadi haya
tabe sei jiva 'sadhu-sanga' ye karaya

"If, by good fortune, a living entity develops faith in Krsna, he begins to associate with devotees.

sadhu-sanga haite haya 'sravana-kirtana'
sadhana-bhaktye haya 'sarvanartha-nivartana'

"When one is encouraged in devotional service by the association of devotees, one becomes free from all unwanted contamination by following the regulative principles (of devotion) while chanting (God's holy name) and hearing (about God's pastimes.)

anartha-nivrtti haile bhaktye 'nistha' haya
nistha haite sravanadye 'ruci' upajaya

"When one is freed from all unwanted contamination, he advances with firm faith. When firm faith in devotional service awakens, a taste for hearing and chanting also awakens.

ruci haite bhaktye haya 'asakti' pracura
asakti haite citte janme krsne prity-ankura

"After taste is awakened, a deep attachment arises, and from that attachment the seed of love for Krsna grows in the heart.

sei 'bhava' gadha haile dhare 'prema'-nama
sei prema 'prayojana' sarvananda-dhama

"When that ecstatic emotional stage intensifies, it is called love of Godhead. Such love is life's ultimate goal and the reservoir of all pleasure."- Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya Lila Chapter 23 "Life's Ultimate Goal; Love For Godhead", Text8-1. LINK:

The process of awakening ones dormant love for God described above in the Madhya-Lila is also cited in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.4.15-16), (The Nectar Of Devotion) as follows:

 "In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna. This taste leads one further forward to attachment for Krsna consciousness, which is matured in bhava, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of God. Real love for God is called prema, the highest perfectional stage of life."  In the prema stage there is constant engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.

So, by the slow process of devotional service, under the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master, one can attain the highest stage, being freed from all material attachment, from the fearfulness of one's individual spiritual personality, and from the frustrations that result in void philosophy. Then one can ultimately attain to the abode of the Supreme Lord. 

- Where Is Your Love For God? -
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

The following conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place on an early-morning walk in April 1974 in Hyderabad, India.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: How do you instruct the people in general?
Devotee:  I try to follow what Lord Caitanya taught, and what is taught in all Vedic literature: that people should understand their relationship with God, learn how to act in that relationship, and know that the goal of life is to come to the stage of pure love of God. So we acquaint people with the principles of devotional service and tell them how they can practice it.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: But people will say, "We have not forgotten God. We go to church regularly. So how have we forgotten God?"
Devotee:  Well, we don't encourage them to change their religion --

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami:
No. Your charge is that they have forgotten God. They will answer, "We have not forgotten God. We are going to church. How have we forgotten God?"
Devotee:  Because they're not actively serving Him. We see that some people say they are theists but they don't do any practical service for God.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: But what is the meaning of service?
Devotee:  Service means acting in a relationship of love. But people are simply serving their stomachs --

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami:
"But if I haven't got love for God, why am I coming to church?"

Devotee:  We are educating them about who God is. They go to church, but they don't know who God actually is.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami:
"Whatever He may be, when I offer my prayers I remember God. I don't have a clear idea, but I have my own conception of God." So, what is the answer?
Devotee:  But there are symptoms of service to God. We don't discourage Christians from worshiping God in church, but if they're actually serving God they should show symptoms of developing love of God.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: Yes. That is already answered: "If I haven't got love for God, why am I coming to church? I could use the time I spend in church to earn some money."

Devotee:  But love is not based on sentimentality. Love is practical. We can judge how much a man is developing love for God by what his activities are.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: "So what have you found in me that lets you conclude I have no love for God? What have you seen in me?"

Devotee:  You go to church for only one hour all week.
HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: "That may be --
Devotee:  The rest of the time is not spent serving God.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: "But that does not mean I do not love God."
Devotee:  We are spreading love of God all over the world to people who have not developed that love, so if you have love for God you should willingly support this work.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: But the Christians are also preaching. The Christian "missionaries will say, "We are going all over the world. We have made so many Christians. So why do you say that you are better than us? We are doing the same thing as you."

Devotee:  If a person has love of God, though, his love is not simply confined to his own work. God is one, so why not help us?

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: "No, no. We are already preaching Christianity all over the world. The number of Christians is greater than the number of Krsna devotees. Our preaching is better than yours."

Devotee:  We are only requesting you to chant Hare Krsna.
HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: "That is only a process. You are requesting people to chant Hare Krsna; we are requesting them to pray: 'Give us our daily bread.' Your process is chanting; ours is prayer. So, there is no difference."

Devotee:  But when we chant Hare Krsna, we are praying to God, "Please let me serve You."
HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: "That is already settled. We are also serving: we are preaching Christianity."

Devotee:  But we are serving twenty-four hours a day.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: "That may be. You may be engaged in serving God twenty-four hours a day, and I may be engaged eight hours a day. But that does not mean I have no love for God."

Devotee:  It has already been predicted in the sastra, the Vedic scriptures, that this method of chanting the holy name of God will be accepted by everyone.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: "That may be in your sastra, but we follow our Bible. We go to church and sing hymns."
Devotee:  The fact is that you do not know who God is; you do not know how God works.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: "No. I know in my own way."

Devotee:  They may give all these arguments, but we see that most Christians do not even follow the teachings in their own Bible.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: Here you have come to the real point. If you love God, then why do you disobey Him? Your disobedience means that you do not love God. Jesus Christ says, "Thou shalt not kill." Then why are you killing so many millions of cows in the slaughterhouses? "This is the charge I give to the Christians".

Devotee:  But they say, "We are allowed to kill animals. Besides, I accept Christ as my saviour; therefore I'm saved. I'm following Christianity closely."

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: No, no. If you love God, then why are you disobeying His order? There is an open declaration by Jesus Christ: "Thou shalt not kill." But you are deliberately disobeying him. So where is your love for God?