Question: Experiencing happiness within devotional service: Is that considered selfish?
I get so much happiness with devotional service. However, I fear that if it is a selfish desire rather sincere motivation to please Krsna. How can I differentiate and improve where I am not focusing on my happiness, but rather making Krsna happy?
Romapada Swami: Feeling happiness in relation to Krishna is good! As you mature in Krishna consciousness, however, gradually and deliberately shift your attention away from viewing yourself at the center; instead become ever-increasingly aware of the reality that Krishna is at the center of our exchange with Him, that’s all.
In fact, Krishna is the only Enjoyer or Master; others are to be enjoyed by Him. He is Purusa, we are prakrti. We are His servants, per our constitutional position. When we are situated in our loving relationship with Krishna, we experience a sublime quality of happiness — we experience being connected with Krishna’s happiness! He is enjoying, and we experience His happiness through the medium of His devotional service.
Devotional service means trying to please the Lord. It is meant to give Krishna happiness, not to give happiness to ourselves. Devotional service means activities performed for the pleasure of Lord Krishna, with devotion, and ultimately not mixed with any desire for personal pleasure.
[NOD Chapter 1] “In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya it is stated that Prahlada Maharaja, a great devotee of the Lord, prayed to Narsimhadeva (the half-lion, half-man incarnation), as follows: ‘My dear Lord, I repeatedly pray unto Your lotus feet that I may simply be stronger in devotional service. I simply pray that my Krsna consciousness may be more strong and steady, because happiness derived out of Krsna consciousness and devotional service is so powerful that with it one can have all the other perfections of religiousness, economic development, sense gratification and even the attainment of liberation from material existence.’ Actually, a pure devotee does not aspire after any of these perfections because the happiness derived from devotional service in Krsna consciousness is so transcendental and so unlimited that no other happiness can be compared with it. It is said that even one drop of happiness in Krsna consciousness stands beyond comparison with an ocean of happiness derived from any other activity. Thus, any person who has developed even a little quantity of pure devotional service can very easily kick out all the other kinds of happiness derived from religiousness, economic development, sense gratification and liberation.”
Below are some of the following few ways to practically apply and understand whether the happiness experienced is for own satisfaction or for the satisfaction of the Lord:
1. We can check our internal consciousness when we experience happiness (i.e. introspect). Ask yourself “Is this experience based on a selfish motivation, e.g. derived from an activity that we love to do, or perhaps an activity which will put us in the forefront, making us more noticeable thus helping us to gain appreciation from others?”
2. Do we do the activity only when we are noticed by others, and when there is nobody to see us we are little easy going and not do it with the same care and sincerity? [Supersoul is the witness of our motives and our consistency, so best to be self-honest in this regard!]
3. Inconsistency in service as well as service mood in general is a sign of being materially dependent or with mixed motives; real devotion, and in turn real happiness, is not created or interrupted by circumstance. See SB 1.2.6
4. It is always good to check with the Spiritual Master senior devotees, and the scriptures.
5. We know we are pleasing Krishna when the Spiritual master is pleased.