Many people believe that discipline is a roadblock to freedom – if they have to follow rules, they won’t be free to enjoy. But does all discipline block freedom?
Suppose a fish finds itself on the land, being thrown there by a wave. If it claims to be free to go wherever it wants, it will soon end up dead. To actually move freely, it needs to return to the ocean as quickly as possible. The discipline necessary to take the fastest path to the water is its road to freedom.
We all are like fish out of water. Gita wisdom explains that at our core, we are souls. By our defining nature, we all want to be free – free to enjoy unending happiness. But in material existence, we just can’t enjoy endless pleasure. Why not? Because material pleasure comes primarily from the contact of the senses with the sense objects; and the supply of enjoyable sense objects is always limited, as is the capacity of our senses to enjoy.
How, then, can we relish enduring happiness? By raising our consciousness to the spiritual level. There, we as eternal souls can rejoice in an eternal bond of love with our eternal Lord. As he is unlimitedly attractive, he is like a boundless ocean of nectar. We can delight forever in that nectar-ocean once we learn to love him. The process of bhakti-yoga trains us to love him – it is like the straight path to the ocean. The Bhagavad-gita (09.28) recommends that we focus on connecting lovingly with Krishna, irrespective of whether it feels good or bad. By such disciplined bhakti-yoga practice, we become liberated and attain his personal abode to freely relish immortal love.
Thus, the discipline of bhakti-yoga is not a roadblock to freedom, but is the road to the supreme freedom.