Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita 2.59 that upon seeing something better, we naturally give up attachment to a lower experience or pleasure. For example, a normal child naturally outgrows childhood toys. Hopefully, we have all experienced this.
Spiritually, our needs and desires dramatically decrease as we advance in Krishna consciousness. The Bhagavatam 1.2.10 teaches that we should consume only as much as needed to live and not more. So beyond strict bodily maintenance, a pure soul has very few needs or wants other than serving Krishna in Krishna consciousness.
At times, a mundane person, even a mental health professional, may see a pure soul’s detachment as self-denial or self-deception. The worldly person’s logic would go as follows: I never experienced happy contentment without sex and other worldly pleasures. Therefore, there is no pleasure beyond these material “needs,” or at least there is no pleasure or state of consciousness so elevated as to enable one to outgrow such bodily pleasures and needs. Indeed, there is no such thing as outgrowing bodily pleasures and needs, since such pleasures are part of who we really are — the body. Therefore, a Krishna conscious soul claiming to be detached, to feel no need or desire for such pleasures is simply pretending, either to themself, to others, or to both.
To be fair, there are devotees who try to renounce pleasures, which they still strongly desire. Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita 2.59 that one cannot give up material pleasures by mere will-power or self-abnegation, such as fasting. Steady, solid progress in Krishna consciousness must come through a higher taste of bhakti, which leads to genuine detachment. Again, to be fair, one must not go to the other extreme, wherein one grossly indulges oneself with little effort at self-control, in the name of avoiding artificial renunciation. Just as a good physical workout challenges but does not overwhelm us, so a good spiritual workout challenges and strains us but does not overwhelm or break us. Both indolence and feverish overreaching will not help us. Steady, enthusiastic practice of Krishna consciousness, despite life’s difficulties, will bring Krishna’s mercy to us, and we will achieve the higher taste that leads to perfection.
With best wishes,
Hridayananda das Goswami
May 3, 2013