In the Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Person states:
One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living being. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me. One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.
In this description, it is clear that it is not possible for one to enter into the kingdom of God except through the path of loving service to the Supreme. And in order for this actual attitude of love toward the Supreme Lord to exist, one must also simultaneously be free from any hatred or prejudice toward another living being. In other words, you must see everyone equally. You experience love not only for the Supreme Lord, but also for all of His parts and parcels.
Holding On to Anger
Holding on to antagonism or anger will make it impossible for you to taste love for God. There is a direct correlation between your desire to hold on to anger and your inability to enter the spiritual world because the spiritual world is the world of love, without any hatred. If you want to have love for God but simultaneously want to continue to be angry at God or at others—the spouse who did you ill, the opposing businessman who defeated your plans for expansion, or your parents, friends or neighbors—you’ll find that it’s not possible, because when you have love for God, that love extends everywhere. Love for God encompasses everyone because all living beings are His children.
Your anger may be directed toward the Supreme Lord Himself because He let a bad thing happen in your life. Maybe your child or a close relative died in a car accident and you want to hold on to your anger at God. Now, you can’t hold on to the anger and simultaneously open your heart up to love because holding on to that hatred means keeping something that will be vanquished if you let the flood of love for God enter into you. Just like if you want to hold on to a dark spot, then you can’t let in the light. As soon as you let the light in, the dark spot’s going to disappear. You’re afraid to let the light in because you know that to do so will take away that which is so important to you, and that is being angry at such-and-such a person.
Anger Hurts You More Than Anyone Else
There’s a saying that a person who gets angry is only hurting himself. When somebody else is angry at you, it doesn’t hurt you as much as it hurts him. When you’re angry at someone else, it hurts you spiritually. For example, if a person is angry at God, then he himself is the one who is hurt. How? By not being able to have the happiness that comes from loving the Supreme Lord. He wants so much to hold on to his anger at God that he will sacrifice his own happiness. By holding on to his anger, he feels that he’ll bring God into line or make God apologize to him. He thinks, “I’m not going to serve You or love You until You beg forgiveness for what You’ve done to me and mend Your ways. You are the cause of my suffering, and I’m just going to sit on Your doorstep and protest Your ill treatment of me. And how will I protest? I will burn myself to death in front of You. What is that fire that will consume me? It is my anger at and hatred of You.”
You cannot love God and be angry with Him because as soon as you surrender to Him, immediately you’re feeling, “I’m sorry.” But when you’re angry with God, you don’t want to apologize to Him. Instead, you want God to apologize to you, and you’re going to hold on to your anger until He does.
Love Your Enemy
It’s not just anger at the Supreme Lord that hurts you. The fact is, as long as you’re angry with even a spark of God, then you cannot surrender to God. The reason is that when you love God, such love expands to all of His children.
Let’s cite an analogy. God is the center of my hand. As soon as you put blood into the center of this hand, it automatically goes to the fingers. Love is the lifeblood, and if you love God, you can’t just put a tourniquet around a finger and not let any of that love flow there. You can’t have ninety-five percent of your heart experiencing love for God and not let such love flood into the other five percent. The fact is, when you experience love, you experience forgiveness. And when you experience forgiveness, then the false ego has to disappear. It no longer matters that someone has offended you and that you were right and he was wrong. It’s simply love that is there.
Therefore, Jesus Christ taught, “Love your enemy.” You have to come to the point where you’re loving even your enemy. Why? Because your enemy is also part and parcel of God, and if you’re loving God completely, then your love will go even to your enemy. You cannot discriminate. Love for God is actually universal love. It has no boundary. You can’t put a fence there. It’s all-expansive. It expands to all living beings, including enemies.
Therefore, if you want to hold on to your anger and hatred for some person, then you will not be able to taste the nectar of love for the Supreme Person. Since your anger and hatred for everyone will disappear as soon as you let love for God into your heart and you don’t want that to happen, you therefore can’t let love in. You want to hate, you want to be angry, and so you hold on to it.
No Shortage of Imperfect People
The fact is, there are many people in the world who are not perfect. We learn that quickly in life. We think, “There are so many imperfect people around. I just can’t stand it!” And every one of us feels the same way. We consider, “What a hassle these imperfect people are! Where do they come from? Who made them? How did they get here, and why are they always hassling me? They’re not only imperfect, they’re also full of anger, hatred, and cruelty.” Indeed, there are bad people in the world and we sometimes wish they weren’t there. We’re angry with them, and we don’t want to give up that anger.
But when I approach God, I immediately see that I am also imperfect. Not only am I imperfect, but I am, as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu describes, “lower than the straw in the street.” In His prayer, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explains the condition of approaching God:
One should chant the Holy Names of the Lord in a humble state of mind, feeling oneself to be lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respects to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the Holy Names of the Lord constantly.
It is not that we offer respects to only some others, but rather to all others—even those who have been cruel to me, even those parents who raised me badly, even those children who neglect me, even those who don’t understand me although I try so hard to make them understand, even those who are intolerant toward me or would try to kill or crucify me. Jesus Christ is that example. Even though he’s being crucified, he prays, “My dear Father, please forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
Heart Full of Love
How can you have such a heart full of love for others? Only by having a heart full of love for God. You can’t have love for God and not love others. You can selectively say, “I love black people. I love white people. I love gray people. I love dogs. I love my wife. I love my country. But I don’t love God.” In reality, however, this is not true love. So you can have this so-called “love” for others without loving God, but you cannot have love for God without loving others. Therefore, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, “Focus upon the center. Love the Supreme Person. Automatically, you will love others.”
If you don’t want to love others, then your attempts to try to love the Supreme Lord will be thwarted. If you want to hold on to some hatred or anger toward others, then your lack of love for Him will also have to remain. You cannot know Him. So if you are trying to make advancement spiritually, you must understand that you have to be willing to give up hatred and anger toward anyone and everyone. You have to be willing to let it go, because bowing down to God means simultaneously letting go of your anger and hatred toward others.
That person who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as parts and parcels of the Lord, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything, never hates anything, nor does he hate any being.
(Sri Ishopanishad, Mantra Six)
So it’s very important to look inside yourself and see, “Is this part of the reason why I’m not making spiritual advancement and why my love for the Supreme Lord is not expanding?” We have to seriously look into this question.