Krishna's Mercy

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All The Things You’ve Chased

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 17, 2015

[Nagapatnis praying to Krishna]“Dear Lord, the dust of Your lotus feet is very wonderful. Any person who is fortunate enough to achieve this dust does not care for heavenly planets, lordship over all the planetary systems, the mystic perfections of yoga, or even liberation from material existence. In other words, anyone who adores the dust of Your lotus feet does not care a fig for all other perfectional stages.” (Naga-patnis, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.16.37)

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“Alright, let’s say I’m willing to acknowledge that thus far I haven’t made the best choices in life. I wanted money, and I got it. I wanted fame, and for a while I had that too. I wanted people to look up to me, and that has happened also. I’ve chased after so many things, and I’m still not happy. I don’t feel any peace. There’s no satisfaction.

I know you’re going to tell me to look to the spiritual, but I don’t see how that’s going to help. Isn’t it the same thing? You go after something, get it, and then remain unsatisfied. How is it any different? Why should I invest time in that process? What good will it do for me?”

According to the wives of the serpent Kaliya, the highest attainment in life is the dust of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The vision of His feet is enough, as those feet give the chance for endless service to the one person who is worthy of service from every living entity. The dust is better, as it is more humbling. It is a kind of magical substance that keeps the fire for service alive, and it is in that service that one finds the peace that otherwise eludes them.

[Krishna's lotus feet]How do we know that without getting the dust of God’s feet we are unsuccessful in life? There are two methods of gathering knowledge. One is the ascending process. In this route you start from nothing. Sort of like the child who has to learn different letters and words before being able to read a book, in the process of ascension you gather bits and pieces of information and work your way up.

Indeed, the life around us is so complex that the ascending process never seems to end. New studies get conducted for this very reason. One study debunks a previous one. Progress means that the previous point was imperfect. You can only progress from something that is incomplete. If there is perfection, there is no need to progress.

The other method of gathering knowledge is the descending process. This is where someone tells you the information directly. You don’t need to experience it. If someone tells me that one plus one equals two, that is the descending process. If I figure out that by taking one slice of pizza today and one slice tomorrow I have eaten two slices, that is the ascending process.

Each method has its strengths and weaknesses. If your authority figure is flawed, the descending process will hurt you. Think of someone who either misinforms you or lies to you directly. In the ascending process, you can at least figure things out for yourself; you put trust in your own perceptions and judgments. Of course the descending process saves a lot of time, especially when the authority source is bona fide.

The catch with spiritual life is that the ascending process will never work. Even if you don’t believe in a supreme being per se, there is still the existence of the complete whole. We tend to think of this in terms of space, but there is time to consider as well. Think of everything that has ever happened to every single living entity that has ever existed. Then think of everything that currently exists. Take these two together and you have an understanding of God. You may refer to Him as the complete whole, but the idea is the same.

In the ascending process, it is impossible to know this complete whole. First of all, there is the race against time. There is not enough time to study everything that has ever happened. One person can’t read all the works that have ever been published. Indeed, to read the works of a single author like Vyasadeva would take an entire lifetime. Then there is the processing of the information. Then there is the remembering of all the key points. In this way we see that there are great limitations.

[Vyasadeva writing]In the descending process, you take the idea of God on authority. The idea of God is very complex, and it includes the tendencies of the human beings. In the famous Bhagavad-gita, important topics like the individual soul,the Supreme Controller, the relationship between the two, the material nature, karma and time are covered.

Through the descending process you can save a lot of time. So many others have chased after so many different things. From their experiences we can tell the result, namely of remaining unsatisfied. Much smaller in comparison is the number of individuals who have attempted to get the dust of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Though they are fewer in number, their recollections are still accessible.

From accessing that information, we learn that devotion is the only path towards peace. It is the only thing worth chasing, because the gift is the person who created this and every other universe. More than simply getting a vision of Him, devotion offers the opportunity for endless engagement. One victory after another, bliss added on top of bliss, and enthusiasm that grows stronger every day – these are the real rewards.

The path leading to this goal is laid out as well. In the present age there are too many distractions that get in the way of following all the rules and regulations of spiritual life. Man is generally short-lived, unfortunate, and not very smart. He makes identifications based on skin color, country of origin, religious tradition inherited from the parents, and even sexual preference.

[maha-mantra]Though living in a degraded time period, man still has the opportunity for service to the Divine’s feet. The pathway is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Though simple and straightforward, this process has tremendous potency. The power in the sound is what eventually yields the best result. This chanting is a form of meditation, and it brings knowledge from both within and without. The descending process gives the idea of God, and the practice of devotional service brings the practical realization of His transcendental greatness.

In Closing:

All that is, was and will be,

Time and space much too big to see.

 

Thus defective is process ascending,

Knowledge better coming descending.

 

On faith first accept God’s existence,

And then realize through work persistent.

 

Benefit from only the dust of feet getting,

Then into eternal service, misery forgetting.

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Yoga With Determination

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 23, 2015

[japa beads]“The yoga practitioner should be determined and should patiently prosecute the practice without deviation. One should be sure of success at the end and pursue this course with great perseverance, not becoming discouraged if there is any delay in the attainment of success. Success is sure for the rigid practitioner.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.24 Purport)

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Question: “What if I don’t see success in practicing bhakti-yoga? Chanting the maha-mantra every day [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare] for a fixed number of rounds is good at giving me some peace of mind, but afterwards I’m still attacked by my old nemesis: material desires. What should I do if I feel that I am not making progress?”

Those who teach bhakti-yoga, including the original preceptor Himself, Shri Krishna, say that the yogi should have determination. The idea is that if the yoga is practiced under the proper conditions, which help to eliminate desires of the material kind, then success is guaranteed. This is explained both in theory and also by example, such as with the story involving a sparrow and Garuda.

What is wrong with having material desires? Can a desire be of any other kind?

We can think of it in terms of wanting things for oneself versus seeking the happiness of someone else. The mother who works hard in the kitchen to prepare a nice meal for herself has a different desire than the mother who works just as hard to feed her child. The work is the same in both instances, but the results of that work are to be used differently.

[Mother Yashoda feeding Krishna]A material desire brings work that yields something for the benefit of the material covering of the individual. The soul is what identifies us. We each survived within the womb in the beginning. We can’t fit into a tiny space like that now. We can’t even fathom living like that for upwards of nine months. But it is a fact that we survived it previously. It was made possible by the eternal existence of the soul, which remains active at all times. When we think we can no longer see it, it has simply gone somewhere else. In the womb the soul is hard to see, but we mark its presence by the development of the fetus.

Elimination of material desires means stopping work that yields a result only for the temporary body. Think of it like working for the welfare of the soul instead. It is like building a home in which the soul will remain happiest, where the changes influenced by time will not be present.

Since in yoga there are recommended practices and attainable goals, we see that desire is still present. The call for determination and perseverance immediately implies desire. So desire never gets eliminated; simply its nature changes. In spiritual desire, one’s work yields results that help the soul. When the soul is rescued, other souls can be rescued as well.

The preliminary result of real yoga practice is the gradual changing of the nature of desire from material to spiritual. But what if we don’t see a change? What if we’re not successful in concentrating on the Supersoul within, who is an expansion of the Supreme Lord? What if we can’t understand that we are different from the Supersoul, that we are meant to have union with Him in a relationship of love? What if we’re having difficulty fostering devotion to the Supersoul?

The recommendation is to continue on. Have determination. Be confident that you will see the result. Like a disease that suddenly disappears completely after a long period of treatment, the all-devouring enemy known as lust, or material desire, will vanish in a person who stays the course in yoga, whose purpose is to unite the individual with their eternal occupation, devotion to the Supreme Lord.

To help us understand that determination, there is the example of the sparrow and the ocean. Once a sparrow was laying her eggs on the banks of the ocean, when the waves suddenly rose up and took the eggs. The sparrow asked for the eggs back, but the ocean refused. The sparrow then threatened to dry up the ocean; a vow for which she was mocked. She continued anyway, pecking away at the vast ocean little by little.

[Garuda helping the sparrow]What seemed like folly ended up pleasing Garuda, who is the bird-carrier of God in His personal form of Lord Vishnu. Garuda then came to the rescue of the sparrow, demanding the eggs from the ocean. Thus through strong determination, to the point of ridiculousness, the sparrow succeeded in her goal.

The person practicing bhakti-yoga will similarly seem ridiculous to others.

“How can you give up eating meat? Where will you get your protein? No drinking, either? Life will be no fun, then. You’re giving up illicit sex; whatever that means? And then no gambling also? You are taking away everything enjoyable in life. You are punishing yourself for no reason. God gave us this one human life to be enjoyed to the fullest. You’re going to regret your decision later on.”

Yet if there is the same determination as the sparrow, someone like Garuda will come to help. In his Upadeshamrita, Rupa Gosvami validates this, saying that determination while following the regulative principles is guaranteed to yield the desired result in the end for the devotee.

“The process of bhakti-yoga can be executed successfully with full-hearted enthusiasm, perseverance, and determination by following the prescribed duties in the association of devotees and by engaging completely in activities of goodness.” (Upadeshamrita, 3)

[The Nectar of Instruction book]The difficulty is that the desired objective is a change in consciousness, which is impossible to see. You can’t see someone else’s mind. You can’t tell how they think by only looking at their forehead. You get some indication of consciousness through activities, but in the end it is the individual who will have to judge. Only they can tell if material desires have left and been replaced by an undying will to serve the Supreme Lord Krishna and see a bright smile on His face. The mercy of God is such that the determination alone will bring success, as there is great potency in the help provided by Garuda and others who are devoted to the same Lord in thought, word and deed.

In Closing:

Sparrow her eggs wanting back,

Pecking slowly at ocean her attack.

 

Though seemingly ridiculously fought,

Determination the attention of Garuda caught.

 

Yogi advised to have will the same,

To be steadfast in chanting holy name.

 

Success from consciousness to tell,

Transformed desire victory to spell.

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Not Seeing Him As God

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 14, 2015

[Lord Krishna]“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me – the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)

catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ
janāḥ sukṛtino ‘rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha

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Question: “Why all the analysis in bhakti-yoga? Why do you have to know that Bhagavan means one who possesses six opulences simultaneously and to the fullest degree? Why can’t you just worship God? The majority of the world knows of the man upstairs in this light. They aren’t so interested in the detail. They’re not concerned with the various rasas, like shanta, vatsalya and madhurya. Don’t you think it would be better to simplify things and just worship God in general?”

Bhakti-yoga is the constitutional engagement. You don’t have to acquire it from some outside place. It belongs to you always. Just as the soul remains in existence through the time continuum, so the engagement of bhakti-yoga remains constitutional. Since it is so intrinsic to the living entity’s existence, when accepted it is joyfully performed.

rāja-vidyā rāja-guhyaṁ
pavitram idam uttamam
pratyakṣāvagamaṁ dharmyaṁ
su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam

“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.2)

[Lord Krishna]If you’re happy, you can’t help but want to see others happy in the same way. If you’re finding happiness through something that lacks a perceivable form, you have no way to give that happiness to others besides explaining to them. Therefore in the bhakti-yoga tradition there is seemingly endless explanation. God Himself is infinite, so you will never finish in the task of trying to explain Him to others.

Devotion is equal to Him, and those who practice devotion actually ascend to a higher position. So to describe that devotion and the devotees is to explain on and on, all the while remaining in joy. Part of the explanation involves the nuance and detail of devotion itself. We learn that there are different moods in which the person who loves God connects with Him.

The introductory mood is shanta-rasa. This is neutrality. Think of being stunned by the vision of something beautiful. Think of being so respectful that you will not utter a word, fearing that you might offend. In shanta-rasa, there is awe and appreciation for the Supreme Lord. To appreciate means to know that He is God. It means understanding that as the Supreme Lord of all the planets and the demigods, He is capable of doing anything.

bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ
sarva-loka-maheśvaram
suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati

“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 5.29)

Those who know of God only in the generic sense are in shanta-rasa. They acknowledge that He exists, and through the tradition of spirituality they inherited from their parents they try their best to follow guidelines. They try not to sin, and they try to live up to the self-anointed title of “God-fearing person.”

Shanta-rasa, without any motives, qualifies as bhakti-yoga. Of course to maintain the purity is difficult. In fact, as long as you know that God is the Supreme Being, you will not taste all that bhakti-yoga has to offer. The reason is that if you know someone is so great, the first inclination will be to ask them for things. And why wouldn’t you petition the highest being when you are in trouble? You know that He can deliver. You know that He has yet to fail; hence His name of Achyuta. You know that He can create innumerable planets with a single exhalation. You know that whatever He does is effortless.

“If I narrate about Rama, her dear husband whose actions are effortless, she will not be frightened, as her mind will be absorbed in thoughts of her husband.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.41)

[Shri Hanuman]In the other rasas of devotional service, the inclination to offer dominates. You’re giving to God instead of taking from Him. Shri Hanuman follows dasya-rasa, where he acts as a servant. He knows very well that the incarnation of Shri Rama is God, but Hanuman does not ask anything. In a higher rasa, his desire for Rama’s welfare suppresses his knowledge of Rama’s divine nature. He knows that Rama is so wonderful, and so to keep Rama happy he does brave things like search for Rama’s wife Sita with great swiftness.

Mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja are in vatsalya-rasa, offering love in the mood of a parent. Krishna’s friends are in sakhya-rasa and the gopis in Vrindavana are in madhurya-rasa. In these rasas there is no conscious awareness of what amazing things Krishna can do. Though He swallows forest fires for them and battles poisonous snakes, the devotees here still think that He is at risk. They think that without their affection, Krishna will not survive.

[Krishna with mother Yashoda]One can only enter the higher rasas if they first know that God is a personality with distinguishable features. So essentially you must know God in order to later forget that He is so great. The worship of the generic God is thus limiting. When limited, you are susceptible to returning to the ocean of material existence, where you look for the same service to perform joyfully, only to find misery at every step since the consciousness of God is lacking. Therefore the vast description of bhakti-yoga provided for the benefit of all fallen souls is integral to finding increased happiness and regaining the constitutional engagement in the mature stages.

In Closing:

Though knowing God as Supreme Being,

Bhaktas this aspect not constantly seeing.

 

Instead thinking that on them dependent,

Not concerned with His power resplendent.

 

Like Hanuman to search for Sita going,

And as her darling son Yashoda knowing.

 

Knowledge of God first, then to set aside,

Pathway for in bhakti’s rasas to reside.

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Explaining My Relationships

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 21, 2015

[Prahlada Maharaja]“Prahlada Maharaja replied: Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose external energy has created the distinctions of ‘my friend’ and ‘my enemy’ by deluding the intelligence of men. Indeed, I am now actually experiencing this, although I have previously heard of it from authoritative sources.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.11)

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śrī-prahrāda uvāca

paraḥ svaś cety asad-grāhaḥ

puṁsāṁ yan-māyayā kṛtaḥ

vimohita-dhiyāṁ dṛṣṭas

tasmai bhagavate namaḥ

Question: “Just as God is not impersonal, we are not impersonal, either. We have identity. We are individuals. Therefore, when I hear the teaching that we should not be so attached to our relationships, it makes me wonder. By saying that, aren’t we making the people we know impersonal? Isn’t there a difference between my relationship with my parents and your relationship with your parents? How can you put all relationships into the same category?”

One of the central teachings of bhakti-yoga philosophy, which fully describes Vedanta, is that God is not impersonal. He is a person, though of a kind we’re not accustomed to seeing. By saying He’s a person, it’s being acknowledged that He is an individual. I can never be you and you can never be me. In the same way, none of us can ever be God. Anyone who says as much doesn’t know what they are talking about. There is the concept of merging into God, which brings an end to the cycle of birth and death, but that does not mean that a person can suddenly become the origin of everything. Moreover, the person in bhakti does not want to merge at all; they’d rather maintain their individuality.

The cycle of birth and death shows that we cannot be the person we think we are right now. We have a name. We have parents. We have siblings and friends. We have pets, even. Due to death, which is one of the markings of time, all of these things change. After death, we get a brand new body. In that form, we get another name. There are new parents, new siblings. Worse still, we completely forget about our past life, though our consciousness comes with us.

śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti

yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ

gṛhītvaitāni saṁyāti

vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt

“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)

[carrying conceptions to the next life]Memory gets wiped clean, but consciousness comes with us. Consciousness can be shaped, however, so even that past conception of the mind can shift towards a new direction in the new body. The soul is what stays constant throughout. The soul is who we really are. When we say “I am”, the “I” refers to the soul.

The “am” is also a question mark. Without knowing the “I”, the “am” is impossible to decipher. From knowing that we are soul, we at least have a chance to learn the proper role for spirit. Is it to roam in different bodies, lifetime after lifetime, like the greatest world traveler? Is it to constantly experience things that are destined to be forgotten? Is it to form strong attachments to people whom we are guaranteed to never talk to again at some point?

God is a person and I am a person. As the greatest person, God is the greatest soul. He does not go through birth and death. He remembers everything. When He forms an attachment, it stays. This means that for Him attachment has a different meaning. The same applies to His eyes, ears, legs, hands, and other body parts. In this way there is no difference between spirit and matter for Him. He is one with all of the things connected to Him.

We know that this is not the case for us, which means that we are a smaller person compared to God. The smaller is meant to serve the bigger. This service should be voluntary, and it should continue without a break. It shouldn’t be difficult to picture this service since we offer service already to so many. That is likely how our relationships exist. The parents serve us at first, and in their old age we serve them. Our friends are based on their meeting some interest of ours.

“When plant life is green, there is grazing. When it becomes old, it turns into fuel for fire. When it grows and bears fruits, people grab at it with an open hand. Tulsi says that all are friends only when a personal interest is met, but Shri Rama meets the supreme interest.” (Dohavali, 52)

With God, the pure relationship is when we offer service and don’t expect anything back in return. In one sense it is impossible for God to not reciprocate. As He is a person, He has an original form. It is beautiful, sweet, soft, and enchanting. Since it is all-attractive, it is addressed as Krishna. It has other names too, like Rama and Vishnu. Just by serving Krishna there is the automatic benefit of bliss. Yet He is not required to give us anything material, nor does He promise to. This means that if we go in wanting things other than Krishna’s association, we may not get them.

[Lord Krishna]Yet the relationship still continues; this is the magic of God. He is the only friend that stays forever. Therefore the wise person recommends making a strong attachment with Krishna first. All others will go eventually. This is the sad reality of life. Other people are not impersonal. The interactions with them are real. The lessons taught to us by dear people are important as well. In the end, however, if they cannot bring us closer to Krishna, closer to fulfilling life’s mission, what have we really gained?

While attachment to Krishna is not harmful, maintaining strong attachment to others can be. What if our friends are not interested in self-realization? What if they have yet to figure out that life and death is an endless cycle? What if they are not bewildered by the days and months repeating, with no tangible progress being made?

We all have identity. This means that others around me are spirit soul as well. They are meant to experience the same bliss from surrender in devotion, sharanagati. They are meant to fulfill life’s mission of regaining the original consciousness, Krishna consciousness. All are invited to practice chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In the end, if the attachment to Krishna is not made, then rebirth will happen again, and the difficult struggle to find purpose in life will reemerge. Therefore the wise look to Krishna first, knowing Him to be the savior of the fallen souls.

In Closing:

Relationships to others real I know,

But with death eventually all to go.

 

Consciousness with them coming,

So new temporary identities becoming.

 

As spirit soul for Krishna I am meant,

So no longer time in rebirth spent.

 

By this knowledge to others giving,

Friends and family relationships fulfilling.

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Just A Single Offering

Posted by krishnasmercy on December 20, 2014

[Mother Yashoda feeding Krishna]“Just see how all Your playmates of Your own age have been cleansed and decorated with beautiful ornaments by their mothers. You should come here, and after You have taken Your bath, eaten Your lunch and been decorated with ornaments, You may play with Your friends again.” (Mother Yashoda speaking to Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.19)

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paśya paśya vayasyāṁs te

mātṛ-mṛṣṭān svalaṅkṛtān

tvaṁ ca snātaḥ kṛtāhāro

viharasva svalaṅkṛtaḥ

Question: “Why is it necessary to offer something to God? If He is the Supreme Lord, doesn’t it mean that He has everything? What could He possibly need from me? I’m the one who is suffering. I’m the one who is constantly in trouble. Worry never leaves me. He should be helping me out instead.”

One would be surprised to learn that the bhakti-yoga philosophy says that a single offering made to the Almighty in the proper mood yields the best results one could ask for. This is meant to be taken literally. One offering; that’s it. Not many in succession, though that is surely not prohibited. As you would help a stranger on the street who is down on their luck, as you would feed your own children – if you make just one offering to God in this attitude, you will reap benefits like you’ve never seen before.

Of course the first question is why. Why does this work? Why should I offer something to God? The answer is found in the act of raising the question itself. The attitude of the living entity is to ask for things. Seeing that a person has everything and is all-powerful, the less powerful seeks some help. Yet what is the attitude behind that request? If I ask the Supreme Lord for help in financial matters, what will be the result if I get what I want?

[asking for something]I will forget Him. This is the fact. I know this based on how I’ve forgotten all that so many have done for me previously. The tablet computer I use every day came to me as a gift from someone. Yet I don’t remember that on a daily basis. My closet is full of clothes that others gave to me on special occasions. I don’t remember who gave me what. Where is the gratefulness, then? Where is the gratitude?

Requesting from God in this manner is a kind of exploitation. It is like seeing the door to a bank vault open and going in and taking some money. The money belongs to someone else. They earned it. I’m taking it for my own pleasure and not even giving thanks in return. And so this entire creation is the property of God. This means that He is the richest person, which is one of the six opulences that go into the definition of Bhagavan, which is one name for Him in the Vedic tradition.

Now if you make one genuine offering to the Lord, it means that your attitude is a little different. It means that you seek His welfare, not your own. That is the definition to love, at least as we know it. A single offering means that you know that there is a higher power who is all-merciful. It means that you’ve sacrificed a moment of your time to spend with God. It means that for a brief period you’ve escaped your pit of selfishness, where you only think of yourself. Even when you’re working to help others, the motivation is personal; you want to feel better about yourself.

God indeed doesn’t need anything from anyone. We have already established that He is the wealthiest person. He is also the strongest, the wisest, the most beautiful, the most famous and the most renounced. As He is the wisest, there is nothing that we can teach Him. He is more beautiful than anyone we can imagine; hence His name of Krishna. He is so strong that He doesn’t need anyone to support Him. He is so famous that everyone in the world knows about Him in some way. And despite having rightful claim to everything, He can live without anything. This includes our offerings to Him.

[Mother Yashoda feeding Krishna]If you know all of this and still make the offering with love, you win in life. This is because you get the association of God in the proper mood. And that association stays forever, beyond this lifetime. Even if you slip back into the mode of selfishness, that one gesture is never forgotten. You’ll get the benefit again at some later time. For this reason on special occasions like Janmashtami, the appearance day anniversary for Shri Krishna, so many devotees line up to pour liquids on top of the deity form of God as part of the bathing ceremony known as the abhisheka. So many line up to only briefly pull a swing which holds the darling Krishna on it. So many remember the way mother Yashoda feeds Krishna, thinking of His welfare day and night.

For a brief moment there is escape from the miserable world that is full of fear. With birth there must be death, and so each person has to fear the inevitable end to their life. Krishna is timeless. He is deathless. Devotion to Him, bhakti-yoga, is the same way. This is very difficult to understand when one is covered by illusion, and so with the single offering made with love there is hope that the illusion won’t last much longer. There is the potential for escaping darkness and finding the light. There is the chance that a desire will emerge to make many more offerings. Even if they are not in front of a deity form or attending a formal ritual, that person can still sacrifice their time and energy by chanting the holy names with full faith and attention: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Possessor of all, better if from Him taking,

Why then insist an offering making?

 

What exploitation to you to give?

No happiness found in that way to live.

 

Just make a true offering one,

And see how forever His favor is won.

 

In bhakti with love again and again showing,

True happiness when His kind nature knowing.

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Taking Everyone As Their Dear Friend

Posted by krishnasmercy on October 27, 2014

[Nityananda Prabhu]“He [the transcendentally situated person] accepts things that are favorable for his duty in Krishna consciousness, otherwise he has no necessity of anything material, either a stone or gold. He takes everyone as his dear friend who helps him in his execution of Krishna consciousness, and he does not hate his so-called enemy.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 14.22-25 Purport)

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Question: How do I avoid envy? I know I shouldn’t be jealous, but sometimes I can’t help it. If I hear that my friend just got married, I immediately think of how they have beaten me to the punch, how they have succeeded in life while I have failed. The same goes for someone landing a good job or doing well in school. I know I shouldn’t think this way, but how can I avoid it?

Envy comes from lust. To lust after something means to want desperately to exploit it for personal enjoyment. If anyone or anything gets in the way, it becomes an enemy. If someone is enjoying the cherished object before me, it means that I am not happy. I don’t like that they have gotten something that I wanted so bad. If someone has a larger quantity of the same desired object, then I also feel envious. Only the transcendentally situated person can truly get passed envy, and along the way they turn the situation completely around: they view everyone as a friend.

Lust is due to ignorance. When I think that my body identifies me fully, I consider specific enjoyments to be worth pursuing. There is the obvious ignorance here in terms of identity, but there is also forgetfulness to consider. The alcoholic is the classic example in this case. They previously lusted after their beverage of choice. They know what the results to that lust were. They have empirical evidence to analyze. And despite knowing and experiencing the negative consequences that came previously, they once again lust after the same thing.

If I am not my body, then who am I? The ego, one of the three subtle elements of the body, can mean “I am.” In the false ego, the “I am” refers to the body. This temporary covering that came to us at the time of birth and has since constantly changed gets mistaken for the sole basis for identity. In the real ego the “I am” shifts towards Brahman, or spirit. The Vedic aphorism aham brahmasmi reveals the real identity of the individual. “I am a spirit soul, part and parcel of the non-differentiated spiritual energy known as Brahman.”

The transcendentally situated person understands this theoretically and they also have practical knowledge of it. They can answer the question of “who am I” on a quiz, and they also act with knowledge throughout their daily affairs. One of the symptoms of that realization is the lack of envy. And why does envy go away? Does the transcendentally situated person just give up? Are they like the quarterback scrambling away from defenders in the pocket who simply decides to lay down and take the sack? Do they throw their hands up and decide that no enjoyment is necessary in this world since it brings the green-eyed monster known as envy?

In fact, the transcendentally situated person views everyone as a friend. How does this work exactly? To know Brahman is one thing, but to know how Brahman should act is another. The living entity is a spirit soul, and spirit is meant to serve the supreme soul. This solves all problems. Even if somehow you’ve avoided envy all your life and managed to prosper materially, you still need something to do in the end. Once everything is settled, you’re left with sitting in a room and having nothing to do, wondering if there is anything more to life.

Service to the Supreme Brahman is that “more.” In the constitutional state, that service takes place in a mood of love. So the transcendentally situated person finds ways to increase their service no matter with whom they interact. If they encounter an enemy, who is against the devotional path, they consider that to be a great blessing. “Ah, see how this person has chastised me. It means that my ego was getting too inflated. It means that the Lord is testing my tolerance, wanting to see how sincere I am on this path.”

Another basis for viewing the antagonist person as a friend is instruction.

“Just see how much they are teaching me. They are reminding me that the life devoid of devotional service is not worth living, that it doesn’t bring any happiness. If they were truly at peace, they wouldn’t have a problem with me chanting the holy names of the Lord: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. I wasn’t bothering them. I know that the majority of the population is averse to devotional service, as they are stuck in the well of envy borne of ignorance. I have no hatred for them, and yet so many of them try to stop me. This is a great reminder that the path I am on is the right one. This person is thus a dear friend of mine.”

[Nityananda Prabhu saving Jagai and Madhai]The ideal example in this regard is Nityananda Prabhu. One time two drunkards attacked him for no reason. He could have retaliated, but instead Nityananda showed supreme compassion on them. And actually the thugs ended up reforming and becoming great friends to so many future generations of man. Their example showed that the mercy of the all-merciful Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is meant for all living entities, that the path of bhakti-yoga is not restricted to anyone.

In Closing:

When in transcendentally situated state,

All viewed as friends, no one to hate.

 

No more by hatred to be attacked,

Since of envy there is a lack.

 

Even antagonist shining the light,

Revealing that bhakti the path right.

 

Like Nityananda Prabhu by Chaitanya sent,

Showing that bhakti life for all is meant.

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Why Do People Die

Posted by krishnasmercy on October 24, 2014

[The universe]“The demoniac conclude that the world is phantasmagoria. There is no cause, no effect, no controller, no purpose: everything is unreal. They say that this cosmic manifestation arises due to chance material actions and reactions. They do not think that the world was created by God for a certain purpose.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 16.8 Purport)

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Question: “I know this has been asked by people since the beginning of time, but it really struck me lately. Why do people die? It’s not fair if you think about it. You become attached to them, you gain so much from them, you love them so much, and then they abruptly leave you, never to be seen again. Why must there be death?”

Life and death are tied to each other. You can’t have one without the other. Death puzzles everyone, for who knows exactly where the individual previously living has gone. No one is certain, as they can’t do an experiment to test for the next destination. The same lack of knowledge is there regarding birth. From where did this new baby come? The less intelligent, relying on sight alone, think that sex life is the only cause. Two living bodies get together in the proper way and a new life emerges. The philosophy of the spiritual science says otherwise. From knowing how birth takes place, the unknown of death becomes a little clearer too.

Between birth and death what we actually see is the soul. The individual may be a man, a woman, a dog, an elephant, a cow, or even an ant. We react differently based on what we see. We adjust our behavior to the individual’s behavior, which differs depending on the species. Even within one species, the individual always changes. The human being doesn’t emerge from the womb capable of acting out scenes in a Shakespearean play, but in adulthood it can. The infant doesn’t know how to fix a computer, but as an adult the same person can become an expert in the field.

This means that we see change. The individual does not change; just their particular covering does. From this we see that birth is the assumption of a covering. The individual existed somewhere else previously. Where exactly we don’t know for sure. The individual doesn’t remember their previous existence. If they could, they would be God.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

bahūni me vyatītāni

janmāni tava cārjuna

tāny ahaṁ veda sarvāṇi

na tvaṁ vettha parantapa

“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)

We’ve introduced another person into the picture. God. One way to know Him is to look for that one person who has perfect memory. Birth and death is a single instance of a travel where memory gets erased at the end. There is no memory going in, but the individual remains the constant. It’s like a dreaming state almost. Death is like waking back up and awaiting the next dream.

This helps us to understand what birth and death are, but we don’t really know why they take place. Why does someone have to exit the dreamlike existence? As the dream is not real, we should know that the time spent within a particular species is not the ideal existence for the individual. In short, they are not meant to undergo birth and death. They do so at their own risk, and the cycle continues until they are ready for a permanent change.

And actually, death is a nice thing. Imagine if the situation were the other way around. Imagine if someone told you that how you look right now, where you live, and what you do – those things will remain forever. You will never get to leave. Who would actually opt for that? The less intelligent might jump at the chance without thinking first, but upon further thought the apparent boon would be properly seen as a horrible punishment. Death guarantees a change of scenery, an escape from a prison-like existence.

Unfortunately, that cycle continues. Death brings another birth, which brings another death, and so on. The cure for birth and death is spiritual awakening. Know who you are. Understand why you go through this temporary existence. Then take the necessary steps to stop it. The identity of the individual is spirit. Spirit is that which transcends birth and death and all the changes that occur in between.

The temporary existence is the result of desire. The individual who wants a dreamlike state, a place where they can pretend to fend for themselves and rise to prominence amongst other species who are in the same boat – they get their wish granted. Of course they are quite powerless even in the dreamlike existence. If they had real power, they would never be forced to leave. They would never die. They would get what they wanted, all the time. This is not the case, which means that the results to actions actually come from someone else.

upadraṣṭānumantā ca

bhartā bhoktā maheśvaraḥ

paramātmeti cāpy ukto

dehe ‘smin puruṣaḥ paraḥ

“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 13.23)

[Lord Krishna]That person with perfect memory whom we mentioned before accompanies the individual in the dreamlike existence. He is the one who actually makes everything happen. He doesn’t influence decisions without being asked. If it were otherwise, then the individual would have no independence. They would be like robots forced to act under someone else’s direction. God observes and then sanctions. Desires conflict and so not everyone can get what they want all the time.

The temporary existence stops when there is surrender. Not to another fallible living entity. Not to the desires of someone who is destined to die themselves. Surrender to God is the secret. This means relinquishing the desire to live amongst the temporary. It means no longer competing with God, but instead serving Him. As God is such a vague concept, we see why surrender is so difficult. We see why there is such widespread lamentation at death, with so many puzzled by the event, wondering why it has to occur.

Vedic philosophy gives the most information about God. Fortunately, the information presented covers all aspects of life. Blind faith is not required, and neither is it encouraged. Use all your intellect. Question everything. Immerse yourself in the philosophy and start to look at everything with the eyes of spiritual knowledge. Then soon enough you will see for yourself that more important than birth and death is the happiness of the soul. That soul gets lasting happiness and peace, shanti, in service to God in His personal form.

In Closing:

To understand I try,

That death has to be why.

 

An answer to this cannot find,

So therefore always troubled my mind.

 

That death tied to birth always know,

As soon as one comes they must go.

 

Cycle on and on it goes,

Stops when Krishna one knows.

 

As Supersoul sanction to action giving,

When desire in bhakti, without fear then living.

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Room For Another Friend

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 17, 2014

[rasa dance]“Krishna’s rasa dance should never be compared with any kind of material dance, such as a ball dance or a society dance. The rasa dance is a completely spiritual performance. In order to establish this fact, Krishna, the supreme mystic, expanded Himself in many forms and stood beside each gopi.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 32)

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Question: I read about the many great devotees who are constantly engaged in serving Krishna. They love Him so much. They sometimes abandon family and friends even. They are fully surrendered, and so it is no wonder that Krishna is so affectionate towards them. With all these friends, why would Krishna want my service? What need does He have for my bhakti-yoga? I think that my work would only bother Him more.

Nothing can compete with the Vedic tradition in terms of describing the Absolute realm. For the relative world, there seems to be no shortage of information available. A season of a famous sports franchise gets documented in many different ways. There are historians who study the lives of the various leaders of a nation. The daily feeds from the news and social media sites give a plethora of information on what is widely acknowledged to be the mundane.

[twitter news feed]There is too much news to consume, in fact, but one would be surprised to learn that news of the Absolute is far greater in volume. Indeed, the relative has come from the Absolute, and there is no way to properly measure the size and scope of all things relating to the Absolute. The term adhokshaja is thus often used to describe the source of the Absolute realm.

[Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.19]“Being beyond the range of limited sense perception [adhokshaja], You are the eternally irreproachable factor covered by the curtain of deluding energy. You are invisible to the foolish observer, exactly as an actor dressed as a player is not recognized.” (Queen Kunti speaking to Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.19)

[Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura]A very important teacher in the line of disciplic succession devoted to the source of all things once had a daily newspaper running in a certain portion of India. One person once asked this teacher how he could find enough content on religious matters to fill a daily newspaper. The teacher, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, replied that such news came from the spiritual planets, which are too many in number to count. The universe we presently inhabit is tiny in comparison, and so the news from the spiritual world could fill thousands of newspapers every day.

Within the literature of the Vedic tradition we find the detail behind the abstract concept of a God. Even a person who has never touched a religious book or visited a house of worship can understand that there is a higher controller. But without authorized information, the mind is left to speculate. Even religious works might only touch on the commandments of God, His rules and regulations, and not give detail into His exact nature.

The Vedic literature, especially those works focusing on bhakti-yoga, reveals to us that ultimately God is a personality. He is a distinct individual, though He can expand Himself. He has an original form, which is eternal, knowledgeable and blissful. As that form is all-attractive, the Sanskrit word “Krishna” is appropriate for addressing it. That original form takes to activities, and with each action taken another name becomes appropriate. The name “Govinda” is authorized, since Krishna gives pleasure to the cows and the senses. Gopala is appropriate also because Govinda takes care of the cows and the calves in the spiritual land of Vrindavana. Vishnu also works, since Krishna expands Himself into a four-armed form, which then manages the entire creation, generating planets through exhaling and destroying the same through inhaling. Rama is appropriate as well, since Krishna expands into Balarama, the servitor God, and also Ramachandra, the warrior prince incarnation who appears as the son of King Dasharatha in Ayodhya.

[Radha and Krishna]As Krishna has an eternal body, home and pastimes, He has associates who are eternal as well. He is already atmarama, which means “satisfied in the self.” He does not need anyone to give Him pleasure. And yet He has Shrimati Radharani, His pleasure energy, always serving Him, making every moment of existence delightful for Him. He has the gopis, the cowherd women who live in Vrindavana. They serve Radharani, since they love her so much. Then there are the acharyas, those who accept the thankless task of leaving the spiritual realm in order to teach the gospel of bhakti-yoga to the fallen souls, who have forgotten their original position as servant of God.

Krishna has so many servants. He is always happy. The “angry God” model does not apply to Him. His ministers sometimes get angry. Falling victim to jealousy, they sometimes show their wrath when they feel slighted. The material nature is by default neutral. We may think that the sun is punishing us on a certain day with its heat, but actually there is no favoritism there. We choose to act in a certain way and thus reap the consequences, either good or bad. It is not Krishna’s fault when we get a bad reaction.

As Krishna is so happy, one may ask why He needs our service. Why would He want to reclaim us when He has so many people already serving Him? There are different ways to answer this question. If one feels small in their ability to approach Krishna, they can offer service to one of His servants. This is actually the recommended method. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krishna Himself in the humble guise of a preacher, prays to always be the servant of the servant of the servant of Shri Krishna. He never asks to be the direct servant of the Lord.

[Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 13.80]“I am not a brahmana, I am not a kshatriya, I am not a vaishya or a shudra. Nor am I a brahmachari, a householder, a vanaprastha or a sannyasi. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Shri Krishna, the maintainer of the gopis. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 13.80)

[Radha and Krishna with gopis]But even if we elevate to the point of serving Krishna directly, there is more than enough room. We can take the example of the rasa dance, which occurred between Krishna and the gopis of Vrindavana. There were many gopis, but only one Krishna. He solved the supposed problem by expanding Himself. This allowed each gopi to have a direct interaction with the Lord. And so Krishna does the same for us through the deity expansion, which can reside in every home in the world and receive worship simultaneously. Even more merciful than the deity is the sound of the holy name, which can be chanted by anyone. The name “Krishna” is Krishna Himself. One who knows this hangs on to the maha-mantra as their saving grace: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

“Served by gopis, friends and acharyas too,

So what Krishna with my service will do?

 

Better not bothering Him to hear,

Can focus on those who to Him dear.”

 

Example from dance with gopis take,

Unlimited expansions Krishna can make.

 

To servant of servant service also can give,

So no question of without bhakti to live.

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Demystifying Reincarnation

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 16, 2014

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)

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[Bhagavad-gita, 4.5]Question: I understand that supposedly I’ve lived many times in the past. This makes sense to me, as I feel certain things that I know are not from this lifetime. But wouldn’t it be great if we could remember those past lives? Why can’t we? Why doesn’t Krishna allow us to?

In standard conversation, we take reincarnation to be the concept of living before. You know, I was a carpenter, a doctor, or a king in a past life, maybe. I see someone that I match up with very well in this life and then wonder if we have met in a previous existence. Perhaps I was of a different race, living hundreds of years ago, in my past life. The Bhagavad-gita gives the definition to reincarnation, which is actually not so complex. What we call reincarnation is simply the changing of bodies.

[Bhagavad-gita, 2.13]“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

From this definition, we see that reincarnation takes place all the time. From the moment I began writing this until right now, there has been reincarnation. It seems silly to say this, but in the critical analysis it is hard to deny. Take a picture of yourself today and then look at it tomorrow. Maybe you won’t notice much of a difference. Now wait a week, a month, or even a year. Then you’ll definitely see a difference. You’ll think the person in the image is someone different. “Was that really me? What was I thinking with that hairstyle? I looked so much younger back then.” The image is nothing more than a snapshot in time. Who we are today is who we will see in a picture a year from today. The only difference is the covering; our identity remains the same. This is reincarnation.

Now we see why we can’t remember past lives. Yesterday is a sort of past life. So is our childhood. We can’t remember everything from that time. We don’t remember exactly where we were twenty-five years ago from today at 9 am. If somehow we can, we don’t remember everything that we witnessed. We don’t remember all of our thoughts. We have trouble remembering what we ate for breakfast yesterday morning, so how is it possible to remember a previous life?

The Bhagavad-gita is the summary of Vedic philosophy, which is also known as Vedanta. As a Sanskrit word, Vedanta means “the end of knowledge.” It is the conclusion to all hypotheses. You solve one question only to have another one emerge. You keep getting answers until you reach the end, which is Vedanta. The Bhagavad-gita gives the full description, as there is a source to even the knowledge known as Vedanta. That source is Shri Krishna, from whom emanate the material and spiritual worlds.

[Bhagavad-gita, 10.8]“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 10.8)

The presentation of the Bhagavad-gita is a conversation between Krishna and His dear friend and cousin Arjuna. This factual conversation is also symbolic of many important truths of Vedic philosophy. The only way to get a real understanding of things is to approach a spiritual master in humble submission. Also, the hearing process is the most effective. Arguing with your friend will not do it. An argument such as that never has a winner, for who will want to admit defeat? Even if I am defeated, why will I want to accept the information that was used to defeat me?

[Krishna and Arjuna]Arjuna, though Krishna’s friend, takes on the role of the disciple in his interaction with Krishna. Arjuna shows bewilderment at a predicament facing him: a potential fratricidal war. Krishna is the spiritual master who helps clear up Arjuna’s doubts. At one point Krishna tells Arjuna that the philosophy being offered to him was actually told to the sun-god at the beginning of the creation. Arjuna then wonders how Krishna could have been around back then, for presently they were contemporaries. Krishna then tells Arjuna that both of them had appeared many times on earth previously. This is the proof of reincarnation. Krishna also says that He can remember those previous births, while Arjuna cannot.

Arjuna, the glorified disciple, the chosen recipient of the famous Bhagavad-gita, cannot remember his previous births. If he cannot, then why should we expect to? Indeed, such knowledge is impossible to gain due to the nature of the living entity. Krishna, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the detail behind the abstract concept of a God, is all-knowing. All others require knowledge. They need to seek out wisdom. One is the power and the other is the powerful. We are the energy, while Krishna is the energetic. As the energy, we are dependent on the energetic. If we could remember everything, including past lives, then we would be God, which we are not, nor can we ever be.

In the Bhagavad-gita, the stress is on the future. Where will we end up next? Never mind what happened previously; fix what is wrong right now. The issue at hand is forgetfulness of God, which is the cause of rebirth in the first place. Knowing Krishna through devotional service cures this illness, which puts a stop to reincarnation. That service is best practiced through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. We may not be able to remember past lives, but if we can remember Krishna through hearing His names on a regular basis, we will attain His abode, which is the best place to live.

In Closing:

Intuition of past lives I’ve got,

But remember them I cannot.

 

I’ve been here before it feels,

But how to be certain for real?

 

With study of Bhagavad-gita intensified,

Answers found, reincarnation demystified.

 

Even in this life through changing body to go,

Memory lacking, only God everything to know.

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Using All Your Intellect

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 1, 2014

[Krishna books]“Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge in union with Me through pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.17)

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Bhagavad-gita, 7.17Question: “In the history of religion in Europe and parts west, for the longest time science, intellectualism, and philosophy were considered taboo. You basically had to accept whatever the church thought, attend the various functions, and resign yourself to the fact that you were the lowliest sinner who ever walked the planet. The Enlightenment period followed by the breakthroughs of modern science did much to tarnish the image of established religion in these regions, for past ideas were discredited through discovery and application of the intellect. Where does the intellect come into play in bhakti-yoga? What about scientific discovery?”

The term “bhakti-yoga” can be translated in so many different ways. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, himself a true renaissance man, preferred the English translation of “devotional service.” He also coined the term “Krishna consciousness,” for the devotion in bhakti is meant exclusively for God. One of God’s many names is Krishna, which means “all-attractive.” Full attractiveness is for an object that is animate, and animation thus means that the object of service in bhakti is a distinct personality.

[Shrila PrabhupadaAs consciousness is the true objective of bhakti-yoga, which is considered the culmination of all religious practice, anything can be used in forming it. Science and intellect are but aspects of nature, after all. If my goal is to eat to my satisfaction for dinner tonight, whatever ingredients exist in nature are at my disposal. I can utilize flour, sugar, butter, fruits, vegetables, etc. The objective is to eat, which brings a certain taste.

Krishna consciousness also has a taste, and it can be generated through the temporary body that we possess. We didn’t order this body. We didn’t go to the store and pick it out. We didn’t sit naked as a spirit soul and beg for someone to bring us a covering. It came to us through nature’s arrangement. In this way we know that we are inferior to nature. Even the person who denies the existence of God at least acknowledges the higher power of nature. Their supreme authority is the nature which always controls them.

[Science magazine]The arrangement of nature delivers our body. In this body we have an intellect, which is sharpened through knowledge. One form of knowledge gathering is experiment. Come up with a theory, run a test, and then study the results. This works for any type of knowledge, not simply that relating to the physical world. To say that science is forbidden in a practice meant to please the original controller of nature is quite silly. Indeed, the majority of knowledge acquired throughout the time in life is from practical realizations, where very small, informal experiments take place on a regular basis.

As intellect and experiment can be used to be conscious of God, they can also be used to forget Him. It may have been that such prohibitions in the past were implemented with this fear in mind. Nevertheless, the person who is fully knowledgeable actually takes the greatest delight in devotion. In the Bhagavad-gita, the personality Krishna says that four types of people initially approach Him. There are those who want money, those who want relief from distress, those who are inquisitive, and those who are already knowledgeable. It is this last group which becomes most dear to Krishna, for they are free of all material desires.

“Free from all contaminations of material desires, the distressed, the inquisitive, the penniless, and the seeker after supreme knowledge can all become pure devotees. But out of them, he who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth and free from all material desires becomes a really pure devotee of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 7.17 Purport)

[Lord Krishna]For reaching the goal of God consciousness, one is fully encouraged to exercise their intellect.

“Question everything so that when you are sure that there is more to life than just sense gratification you will be ready to take up devotional service to God in earnest. Blind faith may help you for a while, but if you aren’t fully convinced of the authority, glory, and superiority of bhakti-yoga, you won’t get the full taste from it.”

We can look to some early experiments in the history of electricity to see how science can be used to help one better understand God. For the longest time, it was believed that lightning was a direct attack from God on those who are sinners. In one sense, there is some validity to the punishing aspect, but in the Vedas the clearer explanation is provided. The material nature operates within three modes and inflicts three types of punishment. These exist for every person living here, regardless of time or place. The results are administered by godly personalities in charge of the material elements, and those results arrive accordingly with karma, or action and reaction.

When such facts aren’t known, one has no choice but to speculate. Therefore previously the consensus opinion amidst the less intelligent was that lightning was directly coming from God and that it intended to hit its targets. A printer living in America in the 18th century was spending much of his retirement conducting scientific research. He was fascinated with electricity, of which little was known at the time. He proposed the idea that lightning and electricity were one and the same. He devised some tests that could be used to see if this was true, as he had seen how pointed objects attracted electricity and carried the electrical charge through a wire that was grounded. He proposed several experiments that could be done with lightning to test this theory. These experiments were proven in France and later on by himself in the most famous flying of a kite in history.

[Franklin lightning rod]When the theory was proven, the people of France in particular rejoiced. They then put up lightning rods on their buildings, especially on the taller ones. Previously there were church bells rung whenever there was a lightning storm, as the hope was that the sound would ward off the storm or that the bell would alert others to seek safety. Lightning was causing a bit of a problem, as many tall buildings had been damaged through lightning strikes. So many of the men ringing the church bells also perished, for no one realized that since the church towers were often the highest buildings in the area, they had the best chance of being hit by the lightning. The lightning rod thus helped to save so many lives.

There was some who were not happy about this, however. One notable personality wrote that the lightning rod was now going against God’s desire to punish people with His lightning. The soon to be even more famous printer from America responded that the same offense would have to be made by any person who ever erected a roof, for rain is also God’s will. If one seeks shelter from rain, why would they not from lightning?

"Surely the Thunder of Heaven is no more supernatural than the Rain, Hail or Sunshine of Heaven, against the Inconvenience of which we guard by Roofs & Shades without Scruple." (Benjamin Franklin, Letter to a friend, 1753)

Though this scientific discovery disproved common church teachings at the time, it can be also helpful in so many ways in understanding God. One can use the lightning rod to aid them in their devotion, in the same way that the roof on top of the temple allows the residents to continue to always contemplate the beautiful features belonging to the Personality of Godhead. The resourcefulness of the printer shows that man has advanced intelligence, more so than the animals. That intelligence can be used to do good. The greatest good is to allow the mind to always think of God. Despite all the obstacles, even those which are sometimes offered by organized religions, one can figure out a way, through applying their intellect, to stay devoted.

Bhagavad-gita, 15.6“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)

[Lord Krishna]By knowing that lightning is electricity, one can also more fully appreciate the Supreme Lord and His potencies. Lightning is but a small representation of His immense strength. The collective material nature indeed is more powerful than the lightning, and that nature is also a rather insignificant energy of God’s. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that in Krishna’s eternal abode electricity is not needed; the realm is self-illuminating. Thus through applying the intellect, gathering transcendental knowledge from Krishna Himself, and understanding everything in terms of the larger picture, one can ascend to the realm of self-illumination to always bask in the sweetness and intelligence of the original author of everything.

In Closing:

To avoid science should we try?

Or the intellect we should apply?

 

Of the four who to Krishna first go,

The wise are the most dear to Him so.

 

So your full intellect and observation use,

Blessed are the intelligent who devotion choose.

 

But with material energy time best not spent,

To land of self-illumination devoted souls are sent.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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