What’s good, what’s bad?

A couple posts back I was thinking that a good trajectory for where I’m at now in life is to try & be the best person I can possibly be. While I think it’s still a good target to have in mind, it neglects taking into account the relativity of good & bad. What’s good & what’s bad?

Generally speaking, most folks would say that killing your family is a bad thing to do, yet in Bhagavad-Gita Arjuna’s seva to the Lord – is to do just that. Is Lord Krishna ordering Arjuna to do a bad thing? According to Krishna, all of them were already dead & the Lord was asking Arjuna to simply be an instrument.

It seems that the essence of that pastime is that the guiding principle in life is to: do whatever is favorable for bhakti & reject that what’s not. Therein lies a challenge…we have to be able to discern what is or is not favorable for the cultivation of our love for God.

My understanding of scripture in that context:

  • bhakti is not reliant on any material circumstances of designations
  • any situation can be used to advance spiritually

I believe both statements are true, yet require one to be very advanced in their practice of bhakti. I’m not Queen Kunti, who prays for more difficulties – I’m having all I can do to somehow or the other make it in the harsh realities of the material world. So therein, I have to be honest with where I’m at – I’m a sudra by nature who loves physical labor, mindless tasks, making art, cows, self-sufficiency, being outdoors & sleep and I have an attraction to intoxication that I have to be ever vigilant about to avoid being carried away into a downward spiral.

That said, how can I take my nature & use it for the ultimate good? Therein, lies this life’s challenge that I’m desperately trying to unravel.

Satisfying one’s intelligence…

In the beginning of my spiritual journey within the confines of ISKCON, I had the inclination to accept pretty much everything that was presented to me by what seemed was an “advanced devotee” even if it didn’t sit well with my mind & intelligence. In hindsight I realize that this is the mentality of a cult follower & that my over zealousness made me believe that pretty much every member of ISKCON was a pure devotee. I, on the other hand,  was nothing more than an anartha-laden conditioned soul whose heart & intelligence couldn’t be trusted due to my lifetimes upon lifetimes of conditioning. Nowadays, I don’t claim to be beyond any sort of conditioning or free from anarthas, yet realize that Krishna is within my heart & my intelligence is a gift from God to help me on my journey to discern what’s bogus/ what’s bhakti & ultimately what is my place & purpose in this life & beyond.

I had a lovely conversation this morning with a devotee who I look up to as being the sort of person I’d like to be; namely balanced, devotional, healthy, loving & kind.  She shared some points that really helped put my heart at ease. In context to Guru she said that a guru can speak out of:

  • siddhanta – the conclusion or ultimate understanding or purpose of the philosophy
  • strategies to recruit (preaching) – speaking in ways according to time, place & circumstance taking into consideration the nature of the individual & what it is that would get them a step closer to the goal
  • out of their bhava – the example was given of Srila Prabhupada saying something to the effect of, “if they don’t chant Hare Krishna we’ll drop bombs on them” – in the mood of a fighting cowherd boy (vira bhakti rasa)

The context of her stating this was me revealing my heart of the struggle to accept difficult statements that Srila Prabhupada has made in various contexts. Her point was that Srila Prabhupada didn’t consider that everything he said will be taken as sastra (scripture). To explain that, she said there was an instance in the early days where Srila Prabhupada said that, “an advanced devotee doesn’t take more than 1 chapati, some milk & a few chickpeas to be happy.” Within 24 hours this was a standard with ISKCON & devotees were literally starving in the name of being an advanced devotee.

It’s important to use our intelligence to understand the essence of an instruction, and discern what is the absolute vs. the relative side of the guru. She said it is the need of a kanistha (materialistic, neophyte devotee) to make everything the Guru says absolute. A pure devotee can make relative mistakes or have material imperfections as they have material bodies. Just because our guru wears glasses doesn’t mean they have imperfect senses, it simply means there is a deficit in their material body that needs some remedy. We have to be able to understand the essence of the teachings understanding that details can be adjusted according to time, place & circumstance. Hence where having a siksa (instructing) guru comes in. They can help us discern what is what.

Therein adds another challenge in the quest for enlightenment. Namely finding that person or persons we can trust, finding that association that satisfies the soul & nourishes us in our spiritual journey. Finding that place where we can come as we are, be authentic, thoughtful individuals trying to find our way in an organic fashion. In the same vein Srila Rupa Goswami states:

yena tena prakarena
manah krsne nivesayet
sarve vidhi-nisedha syur
etayor eva kinkarah

“If one takes to that line of activities, Krsna consciousness, then all regulations will follow as a servant follows a master. If the master starts, the servant follows. Similarly, the rules and regulations will follow automatically.”

What I get out of that is we have to keep our focus fixed on the goal – to be who we really are – a pure lover of God & all of His children & everything else will drop in line. Similarly what is considered the essence of Jesus’ teaching states the same in Mark 12:28-34:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Current ponderings

Quote
I like chanting Hare Krishna. It’s great & a good means to bring out the best in people. Yet within the society of ISKCON I wonder if there is a place for people like me?

Let me explain what I mean, by people like me. I really want to be a good person in the sense that I want to treat everyone with love, respect & kindness. We’re all birds of a same feather – we are all spiritual beings at different places in our journey. Even the most apparently horrible person say for instance a cannabalistic serial killer; is on their path back to Godhead. It’s not that I would seek such a person’s association but, I truly believe that we’re all going back to the spiritual world…eventually. It’s simply a question of how many lifetimes or other reformatory births that stand in our way from our arriving there, I may be a million away & you may be only a few. Keeping this thought in mind helps me to treat people better by understanding whatever bad behavior they may exhibit just means that they’re working through some funk to prepare themselves for the return to their true home.

I want to associate with persons who are asking important questions in life – existential ones (why am I here, what is my purpose, what is the purpose in life, etc.), difficult ones ( what is truth, of that what I’ve been taught – what is fact what is fiction, what is reality, etc), moral ones (what is right, what is wrong, etc) & lifestyle ones (how can I make the most out of this life, how can I make a difference in this world, how can I relate with people in the most meaningful, compassionate way possible, etc).

I’m not interested in simply regurgitating answers that come from a particular book or teacher. I want to find answers & teachings that deeply resonate with every aspect of my being. On the controversial subjects within ISKCON, I lean to the side of what feels right within my heart. For instance, gay marriage or monogamy – I believe people have the right to love & live as they choose to do so provided their lifestyle choices aren’t harming others. If that is with someone of the same gender – who am I to say that is right or wrong? They’re doing what it is they need to feel loved, happy, connected & authentic – which I think is absolutely essential to one’s growth & development.

To put it simply, I believe firmly in equality. From my understanding, no material designations (gay, straight, woman, man, black, white, yellow, sudra, brahmana, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, etc) have any bearing on one’s ability to make spiritual advancement. I don’t believe that a straight, white, Hindu brahmana has any better of a shot than an illiterate, gay, sudra woman when it comes to achieving pure love of God. I also like to think in terms of difference more so than superiority/inferiority. For instance, generally speaking people have various strengths & weaknesses in terms of material designations but, that doesn’t make one person better than the other – it simply makes them different. Also, since we are all unique individuals I like to think/act according to that. Just because someone is in a black, female body – it doesn’t mean that person fits the stereotypes assigned to that race or gender.

To deny one’s intelligence & feelings of the heart because of what some Holy books say or some supposedly self-realized master says or because of thoughts like what will the devotees think seems to be the opposite of what I’m seeking. I’m seeking to be authentic & happy. From years of experience indulging the senses in a wide spectrum of their objects, I find only fleeting happiness or relief from the harsh realities of this world. Which to some extent, I feel may be God-given as a vehicle to take a break from all the hard truths that are out there. Are they the way, in & of themselves to find the answers I’m seeking? Most certainly not – but a mere distraction. Am I advocating or condemning sense gratification? Not so much – I’m simply trying to see it for what it is – a distraction which perhaps may even be necessary or therapeutic at times or could be completely destructive. It all depends on time, place & circumstance.

I’ve attempted to fit myself into the cookie cutter mold of what an ISKCON devotee looks like…at best it was simply an external show. I’ve arisen the 1.5 hours before dawn, wrapped myself up in a sari, applied the finest tilak, chanted my 16 rounds and gayatri mantras, worshipped Deities, engaged in service until my body was physically exhausted yet, it still hasn’t given me the certainty in the answers to my deepest questions – I haven’t had that one-on-one association with God that many devotees seem to be privy to. I ask the Lord for answers to my questions yet I don’t have any bright lights or a booming voice from the sky that tells me for certain, what I am to do. It would be a hell of a lot easier if I did.

That said, where I’m at now is attempting to find what feels true to myself, what satisfies the heart. It’s a tough road to walk on as the Gita says what tastes like poison in the beginning is nectar in the end & vice versa. So it seems we have to be willing to put ourselves out there & engage in that which may not seem right at first to later realize that – that thing was indeed what we needed. I find that with chanting a lot – the mind gives so many excuses not to chant or read scripture or do service or whatever else, once I ignore it & engage my heart feels happy.

So I think it comes down to the concept of the key to rapid progress is to always push yourself just beyond your comfort zone. I don’t claim to have any certain level of purity or realization. I simply aim to do that which seems to be the best thing I can do to find that authentic, blissful, honest, compassionate, kind, open-minded, loving person that I’m seeking to be.

Am I a member of ISKCON ? I don’t know. I don’t even know what that really means. One may carry out all the formalities or externals that show I’m a good ISKCON devotee – yet, the inside could be completely rotten & vice versa. So when it comes down to it, the way I see it is that’s between the individual & God. It is not bound to one society, sect or path. If there are teachings, teachers or persons of different traditions both secular & spiritual that deeply resonate with my heart & seem to offer answers or association that are leading me towards my goal – why would I ever deny them? I simply want truth, love, peace & happiness. I really want to be a good person & even if I don’t reach that goal in this lifetime, if I can feel that I’ve made even one step closer to that goal then, I can confidently say that this lifetime was a success.

Time I Am…

timeIamsri-bhagavan uvaca
kalo ‘smi loka-ksaya-krt pravrddho
lokan samahartum iha pravrttah
rte ‘pi tvam na bhavisyanti sarve
ye ‘vasthitah pratyanikesu yodhah

“The Blessed Lord said: Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.”  (BG.11.32)

In the modern world more often than not, time is regarded as the enemy or at least a great competitor. We’re always racing here & there trying to beat the clock & get as much as we can in before the end of the day. We’re constantly devising plans to make this short span of years (100 at best!) really count. Yet ultimately we’re all going to be defeated by time in the form of death. So it’s a rather grueling, fruitless struggle against an ill-matched opponent.

What if it didn’t have to be?

That is the question I am currently pondering in context to my life at present. Various circumstances have arisen which call upon a great deal of patience. In this I have two options: (a) surrender to the pace -or- (b) do something to extricate myself from it.

The last time I found myself in a similar situation, I gave it six years of my life – patiently waiting for that moment to come where it would all make sense & Krishna would bless me with a higher level of Krishna consciousness that would allow me to blissfully remain in that situation. That moment never came – my sadhana suffered, my spirit was rather crushed and my mind was more disturbed than ever. Nonetheless, I kept chanting & made the needful adjustments to create circumstances that were more conducive to fortifying my bhakti-lata.

Was that six year span spent in vain? Absolutely not. I learned valuable life lessons & gained insight into my anarthas (unwanted traits). Good times were had along the way & a lot of sweet memories were made despite the sand in the sweet rice.

More often than not; our situation will be less than ideal – especially when compared to the utopian visions our mind creates. So what is to be done?

matra-sparsas tu kaunteya
sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah
agamapayino ‘nityas
tams titiksasva bharata

O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed. (BG. 2.14)

tat te nukampam su-samiksamano
bhunjana evatma krtam vipakam
hrd-vag vapurbhir vidadhan namas
jiveta yo mukti pade sa daya bhak

My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim. (SB.10.14.8)

There’s a verse for that – there always is. Whatever the tough situation,  turn to scripture & the answer awaits – hence the urgency in sastric study. It provides an arsenal of antidotes to life’s challenges. Yet it doesn’t stop there. We also learn from sastra that lessons & gurus are everywhere…waiting for us to become conscious enough to perceive them.

So that’s where I’m at for now. I’ll leave you with a passage from a book I’ve read many times & hold close to my heart:

“Conversation between Siddhartha, who has temporarily given up all worldly possessions in order to experience total poverty first hand, talks to a merchant.

That seems to be the way of things. Everyone takes, everyone gives. Life is like that” (said Siddhartha)

Ah, but if you are without possessions, how can you give?”

Everyone gives what he has. The soldier gives strength, the merchant goods, the teacher instructions, the farmer rice, the fisherman fish.”

Very well and what can you give? What have you learned that you can give(the merchant asks of Siddhartha)

I can think, I can wait, I can fast.”

Is that all?”

I think that is all.”

And of what use are they? For example, fasting, what good is that?”

It is of great value, sir. If a man has nothing to eat, fasting is the most intelligent thing he can do. If, for instance, Siddhartha had not learned to fast, he would have had to seek some kind of work today, either with you, or elsewhere, for hunger would have driven him. But, as it is, Siddhartha can wait calmly. He is not impatient, he is not in need, he can ward off hunger for a long time and laugh at it. Therefore, fasting is useful, sir.”

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

  • What if everything we needed was right there in front of us?
  • What if that utopia we’ve been tirelessly pursuing is accessible to us right here in the now & all we have to do is be present?
  • What if we simply took a minute to pause & see if it is?

Existential Questions

Hare Krishna! It’s been a while — since the last time we talked I’ve relocated to New Vrindaban, it’s been quite a lovely journey immersing myself in this eclectic community & landscape.  Real life is such that my virtual life has somewhat suffered which to me is a wonderful thing. At any rate my husband posted a few questions on his facebook status that provoked me to ponder & answer. I thought I’d share my answers with you all & request that if you are so inclined please provide your own answers in the comments thread below. As always, thoughtful discussion is always welcome 🙂

1) What is your purpose in life?

1.) The purpose is to figure out what is the purpose of life. So far on the journey what resonates with me the most is Mark 22:37-39: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” As far as I can tell, this is the purpose of life.

2) What are your priorities for reaching the purpose?

2.) For me some priorities are:
a.) always remain open-minded to see what the Lord has to teach me through innumerable ways, people & things – not be stagnantly practicing/ regurgitating beliefs in a particular denomination
b.) be disciplined/ determined – stick with something long enough to see what results may come in due course, do things that are good for me even though I may not want to do them….so be dutiful & open to it working or not (realism)
c.) try & live my life in the most ethical way as possible. Follow the golden rule (treat others as you would like to be treated) & try my hardest to make a positive impact in everyone’s life that I come across. Of course, not always successful at that, but I keep trying to learn & improve.
d). Attitude of gratitude – being thankful for everything Krishna has given me, apparently good or bad – to help me reach the goal in a swift, sustainable way.

3) What is the one most important thing you’re doing to get there?

3.) Keep on keeping on. Being grateful for being given this opportunity to genuinely find & follow that which will truly make me happy. Personally, I’ve found a lot of solace & shelter in the Holy Names. They are my rock through all the turbulence I’ve encountered. Given my present state of realization, I would have to say, I haven’t even understood or realized even a tiny drop of what the Holy Names have to offer – but despite that, They’ve always been a great source of relief & hope.

More Moons For Prabhupada : A Vyasa Puja Homage

Brilliant Moons Orbiting the Even More Brilliant Srila Prabhupada

Brilliant Moons Orbiting the Even More Brilliant Srila Prabhupada

My dear Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Your Divine Grace!

Once again your transcendental appearance day has come & has blessed me with this opportunity to reflect upon my relationship with you & what exactly that means. Having taken birth in this material world seven years after your departure from this plane I never had the great fortune to meet you in person & develop a relationship that way.

The means that’s available to me to get to know you is through media:  your books, your followers’ books about you, videos, audio recordings, etc & also your students & disciples. Seeing how many brilliantly shining moons you have left behind & continue to create via the medium of your books, I can catch a tiny glimpse of what sort of effulgent personality Your Divine Grace is.

That being said, I am deeply grateful for this society you have created, warts & all. I’ve never met any people in world that are as happy, kind & unconditionally caring as the devotees. More than any scripture or philosophy, these attractive personalities Your Divine Grace has left behind inspired me to take to this pathway of Krishna consciousness. They have wonderful qualities that I also wish to possess. For this alone I am eternally grateful & indebted to Your Divine Grace, what to speak of this wonderful cure-all tonic & all encompassing shelter of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra you have introduced to us.

Other than a few words, I don’t have much of value I can offer to you. My aspiration is that I will be able to create a life that is factually worth offering to Your Divine Grace.

Srila Prabhupada, I humbly ask for your mercy, blessings & divine empowerment that I may transform my selfish life of sense gratification to a selfless life of self realization. In asking this I don’t have an aspiration to be a big, fancy, famous devotee with a ton of followers, but more so, a simple, humble, kind & loving devotee who is capable of inspiring others by example to take to this lovely process of Krishna consciousness. Please help me to become one of your brilliantly shining moons & inspire others to do the same.

Your worthless servant,
Radhapriya devi dasi

Srila Prabhupada Lives in His Books!

George Harrison sings a song of his separation from Krishna. This same sort of separation is also sometimes felt in regards to the Vaishnavas.

For the majority of my devotional life, Krishna has arranged it so that I’ve never had a devotional community to tap into as a regular daily function. I started off living in Wilmington, DE whereby ISKCON Philly was about an hour drive. This was the closest proximity I’ve ever lived to an active temple. Unfortunately, He made it so that I would be relocating to Maine only after attending the Sunday Feast 3-4 times.

My next situation took me to Portland or rather Cape Elizabeth, Maine. In this set up I was about 2-2.5 hours from the closest temple, ISKCON Boston. Fortunately, He connected me with a lovely devotee family up in Brunswick (Mother Hare Krsna dasi, of cow-protection/varnashrama dharma fame & her lovely children Maha & Asto), as well as, some other nice devotees sprinkled around the state. We would have programs every month or so & eventually I convinced some of the lovely Boston devotees to come up & join in on the fun. Even HH Candramauli Swami came to my home once & blessed us with his association.

Krishna also arranged that at one point I could go to the temple & stay there for 3-4 days out of the week when I did not have work or school which kept me alive spiritually. In addition to this I always had the incredible fortune of having regular e-mail & even phone contact with my beloved spiritual master, His Grace Sriman Sankarshan das Adhikari.

When I was just starting off in Krishna consciousness, I read a lot. Every night I would read for at least a good hour. I was fanatical about not ingesting any non-Krishna conscious media (music, films, books,  etc) except that which was required for my schooling. I would be listening to lectures or kirtans for hours on end while in my studio (as a painting major) & always be engaged in distributing Krishna prasad to my studio mates.

I didn’t have much association so , I made my own.

After finishing up my BFA in Maine, I decided to move down to Austin, TX in order to be in closer physical proximity to my Spiritual Master. Soon after moving down here, my Guru Maharaj’s traveling schedule began to pick up, keeping him in Austin for less & less time each year. While he’s away, we maintain regular Sunday feast programs & try to have some celebration for most major festivals as far as is practical. Yet the facility for daily association is not so great in his absence. That being the case I find myself figuratively back in the same boat I came from, little to no regular daily association.

After struggling to keep my head above water for the past five years, I somewhat spontaneously stumbled back into that habit which kept me afloat; namely the regular reading of Srila Prabhupada’s books & almost constantly hearing bhajans/kirtan or lectures. Recently, I’ve been doing online Bhakti Sastri courses through Bhaktivedanta College, as well as, attempting to read HH Bhakti Vikas Maharaj’s Ramayan & a bit of Srimad-Bhagavatam each day. Though I’m not as strict as I once was about the non-devotional media I ingest, the potency of this wonderful Vaishnava literature seems to outweigh all else & at least keeps my nose above the waves.

That brought me to the simple yet profound conclusion that:

Srila Prabhupada is fully present in his books & various recordings.

So my humble suggestion is that if you find yourself with little to no devotee association or your mind is disturbed by the various politics present within our society, simply go back to the basis of our movement, Srila Prabhupada. Absolutely no harm can come from developing a deeper relationship with Srila Prabhupada & trying our best to understand his mood, mission & what is factually pleasing to Him. After all, our spiritual life depends on this as we can’t even discern right from wrong within ISKCON without having a concrete understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

Reflections from the 2013 Sadhu Sanga Retreat

I just returned from one of the most amazingly inspiring events of my lifetime, the 2013 Sadhu Sanga Retreat… 3 days of nothing but kirtan, sadhu sanga & plenty of prasadam. Just when I had thought it couldn’t get any better than last years retreat, words can’t even describe by how far it did. More devotees, next level awesome kirtan & even more amazing prasadam.

To focus exclusively on chanting the Holy Names for 3 days is an incredibly powerful experience to say the least. For me it really put into perspective just how important chanting Hare Krishna is. Everything else can go to hell for all I care, if I can somehow or the other simply keep chanting Hare Krishna for the rest of eternity nothing else really matters. All problems or hang ups with this or that devotee or institution or whatever else are not even worth the time thinking about. Why spend your life in misery, when you can be blissfully chanting?

Really in a nutshell what I learned from this weekend is to simply chant Hare Krishna & be happy. I feel incredibly fortunate & grateful that this fallen, conditioned soul was permitted to spend 3 days in the company of so many amazing personalities. Thank you to Indrayumna Maharaj & Ram Vijaya Prabhu & all the other lovely devotees that organized & attended this event. I can’t wait until Sadhu Sanga 2014, hopefully Krishna will be merciful & allow me to attend the festivities once again.

To close, I’ll leave you with a video clip my husband shot of one of the most insanely awesome moments at the retreat…

harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha

“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only way to attain spiritual perfection is the chanting of the Holy Names of the Supreme Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.” [Caitanya-Caritamrta, Adi 17.21]

All You Need is Love…

 

I was reading Chapter 14 of Nectar of Devotion today & came across a lovely point I’d like to share. Basically jnana (knowledge) & viragya (renunciation) are not very desirable things. Too much knowledge or renunciation can lead to a hardening of the heart which is counterproductive to developing love for Krishna. Bhakti requires our heart to be very soft, as we are attempting to develop love for the Supreme Person, Krishna. So it is said, simply by focusing on our sadhana & rendering loving service to Krishna all the desirable characteristics of jnana & vairagya are automatically bestowed upon us. Krishna has aptly stated this in Bhagavad Gita 10.10:

To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.

In the material world we are very reluctant to have a soft heart. We give our love to someone in hopes of reciprocation but, more times than not, we end up disappointed or heartbroken. So this is a big anartha to get over, to take down the wall & let Krishna in. Thankfully Lord Caitanya, has given us the sledgehammer to bust down the hard wall that surrounds our stone like heart:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

If we simply chant these 32 syllables as much as possible, our heart will be fertile ground for our devotional creeper to grow. Then we can truly experience love in it’s pure form. From what I’ve heard it’s simply wonderful… no more anxieties, ever increasing happiness, makes liberation look pale, brings all auspiciousness & even has the potency to attract Krishna. So when it comes down to it all we need is love.

Hare Krishna.

ISKCON: The Ideal Life

Back to Godhead - Volume 12, Number 01 - 1977
When I first came into contact with the Bhagavad Gita in 2003, followed by my spiritual master, then by ISKCON/devotees, I thought I had fallen into the ideal lifestyle. This is what I had been searching for. Here is a philosophy which has all the answers to my questions, a society that can fulfill all my needs & a lifestyle that will solve all my problems in life. I felt like every devotee I came into contact with was the embodiment of purity & every activity was pure nectar. After all practicing Krishna consciousness was all about, dancing, chanting & feasting your way back to Godhead… isn’t it?

After becoming more intimately involved with ISKCON & the devotees, I realized that the practice did not often live up to the ideals. It has been said that ISKCON is like a hospital, those who are in it are for the most part still in a diseased condition, therefore there are sure to be a few epidemics that break out from time to time. In the 9 or 10 years I’ve been in ISKCON, I’ve seen many devotees get frustrated for one reason or the other & give up their practice. Was it due to Vaishnava aparadha, a troubled mind, uncontrolled senses or some external difficulties? That I can’t authoritatively say.

What I can say is we have to be patient, enthusiastic & determined, if we plan on sticking around for the duration of this lifetime. All the problems we experience both internally & externally are simply due to lack of Krishna consciousness…our own or others or a bit of the two. As Bhagavad-Gita 2:41 states:

“Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.”

So whatever difficulties that may arise in our life, we have to keep the goal in site. This will be our saving grace in the darkest hour.This is the key to our success in Krishna consciousness.

However there is one catch, it’s not going to be an easy road. It will be an all out war with our mind, senses &  the material energy to finally attain this state of unwavering happiness & elevated consciousness.

We have to prepare ourselves for total warfare against Maya, if we want to be successful. It is said that anything worth having doesn’t come very easily. The same is true of Krishna consciousness. Simple for the simple, difficult for the crooked no doubt. Yet in this world, how many of us actually fall in the simple category?

So what are my feelings about ISKCON & Krishna consciousness now? It is indeed the ideal lifestyle, yet we haven’t quite realized as a whole on how to bring that ideal down to the practical level. We are suffering some growing pains right now both individually & collectively: trying to find the balance, quarreling amongst ourselves & with our own mind & senses. Yet if we keep our goal in site, in due course sincerity will prevail & the ideal will be practically realized.

Therein, it is incredibly helpful for us to deeply meditate regularly on why we began practicing Krishna consciousness, how those goals are being realized or not & what we can do to come closer to that realization. If we each focus on individually practicing the ideal, we will come much closer to collectively embodying it. In other words, we have to be the change we want to see within ISKCON & the world.

Hare Krishna.