Spiritual and Material Love

Question: Let’s say the disciple loves the guru. How is it possible that all his or her experiences of love, before coming in contact with the guru, had been only material?  

Answer:  Why is it not possible? Before contacting the guru, was this person following material life or spiritual? In all probability, he was following material life with material pursuits. So why is it that his experiences of love would be spiritual when all other experiences were material.

 You need to know the difference between material love and spiritual love. Material love is based on material conditioning and it leads to further conditioning. Spiritual love is for Kṛṣṇa. The disciple learns from guru what love really means. The disciple is not functioning just on his or her past experience. 

Question: Does the love inside the disciple become gradually spiritualized? Or does he or she receive the love from guru and Kṛṣṇa? 

Answer: Love does not exist inside the disciple. It is received by the grace of guru.  

Question: If it is developing, is this development happening in stages? 

Answer: The guru gives the seed of love and then it manifests as the disciple engages in devotional practice under the guidance of the guru. 

Question: How do I know whether my love is motiveless and free from desires? 

Answer: This you have to know within your heart. You must ask yourself whether you want to love for the pleasure of the object of love or for your own satisfaction. Moreover, guru knows your understanding and will guide you to help you shift from material, self-centered love to spiritual, other-centered love. 

Question: When I want to have love for God, this means I also have a desire?

Answer: When it is said “free from desire” it means free from material desire. Desire to love Kṛṣṇa is not material because Kṛṣṇa is not a material person. 

Question: Is there a difference between the desire to serve and to become happy by loving? 

Answer: These are the same things. Service in love brings happiness. But just getting personal happiness is not the goal in pure, or unconditional, love. 

Question: If they go hand in hand, what should be the motive of a devotee? 

Answer: The motive of a devotee should be to do service for the pleasure of guru and Kṛṣṇa. This will bring happiness to the devotee. 

Question: I have noticed that sometimes my desire is to be happy. Other times I just want to serve and love God. But that may also be because I want to be happy. So, there is a misconception of “I” because I don’t know anything else. Is that because right now I am in such a state of ignorance that I cannot see reality clearly and therefore I am not in the state of wanting to serve all the time? 

Answer: Yes, such feelings come due to a lack of clear understanding. As you continue doing devotional service, your mind will become clearer and more focused. Your understanding will improve. You must have already noticed some improvement in your own experience. Compare your state of mind from, say one year ago to now, and you will see the difference.