Krishna's Mercy

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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.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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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.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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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.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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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.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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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.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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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.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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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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A History of Knowledge Transfer

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 14, 2014

[Prabhupada books]“For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.68)

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[Bhagavad-gita, 18.68]Question: “Why is it so important to have association with devotees, people who have dedicated their lives to serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Why is it important to hear from them?”

When we emerged from the womb, we were not talking right away. We could not verbalize our feelings to the adults, most of whom made funny faces and strange noises as they looked at us with love. We couldn’t speak out what we wanted to eat, when we wanted to sleep, or where we wanted to go. Communication had to be learned, as did the process of reasoning and making rational decisions. To learn about the Absolute Truth, that which goes beyond this temporary life amidst temporary objects and fleeting attachments, has the same requirement. It must be learned. The issue is where to go and whom to approach. The Vedas recommend that we approach a saintly person, who is generally found in a holy place of pilgrimage. If we consider the history of knowledge transfer, the logic behind this recommendation becomes quite clear.

[Search engine results]Let’s say you’re in school today and you get an assignment to write about something like the history of computers. Where will you go? Based on the advancements in technology, you might not even have to leave the classroom. Just take out your smartphone that your parents purchased for you for emergency contact purposes, and pull up the internet browser. Then provide the words “history of computers” into the search engine. Then you get a series of hits. You could spend days and days studying the information this way.

No less than twenty years ago the process was different. The internet was not readily available. There weren’t so many computers around, and even if you happened to own one, you didn’t have anywhere to navigate to in order to get information to complete assignments for school. Your best bet was the library. Open to the public, you could go there and flip through the card catalog to find the books that matched your subject of interest. You could read any of those books while in the building. As that isn’t always practical, you could take the books home with you in what was called a “check out.” The library people knew where you lived, so if you didn’t return the book in time, you were charged a fine. As the length of the violation increased, so did the fine.

[Library card catalog]Now go back even further in time, say two hundred years or so. A young printer in the city of Philadelphia had formed a club with his friends. The goal of the club was to seek knowledge, with a strong stipulation being that no prejudice be given to religion or religious doctrine. Blind faith was not the order, as that could be found at the local churches, of which there were enough for each of the major denominations. The members of this club would meet every week and periodically submit essays for argument based on the books they had read.

The person who started this club, which was called the Junto, realized that it was a little cumbersome to have each person own their own copies of the books on the reading list. This was because books weren’t so prevalent in those times. There wasn’t a big-box retailer who carried every title known to man and could deliver it with free two-day shipping. Bookstores were scant, and so just acquiring the books on the list was difficult.

The leader and founder of the club came up with a scheme: book sharing. The members would share books. In order for this to work, there had to be a place to house the books, and there had to be plenty of books. Hence came the idea of a subscription library. People of the community would contribute to the project, and the books would be housed in a specific location. The members could then “check out” the books, and would be charged a fine of double the price of the book if they failed to return it. Hence the path was cleared for the modern day system of public lending libraries.

[Ben Franklin's library company]Now go back before this time, a few hundred years again. If you were interested in the real truth, such as the origin of everything, where would you go? Say you were interested in understanding the meaning of life. You wanted to know why we take birth and why we die. You were particularly interested in the highest philosophy, something that goes beyond just worship of an abstract figure insisted on out of fear of eternal damnation in a very hot place.

There was nowhere to turn but the saints of the Vedic tradition. They carried this information with them. The books of the highest knowledge, such as the Bhagavad-gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, and Ramayana remained in temples devoted to the Lord. The knowledge was encoded in the Sanskrit language, so even if someone were to get their hands on these books, they would have a difficult time understanding them. It was the saints who really knew the information. It was they who could describe it to others.

And so we see why association with saintly people is so important. The Absolute Truth is above any art. Community projects, social improvement, and promotion of the general welfare are arts, for conditions in society change all the time. What works in one area of the world may not in another. There is the time factor to consider as well. Computer programming is an important field today, but one hundred years ago it had no relevance whatsoever.

Shrila PrabhupadaKnowledge of the Absolute Truth is always important. Therefore the association of the saints who know the Absolute Truth has a value that cannot be measured. With the evolution of knowledge transfer, that same valuable information is now passed on in other forms, but the effect is the same. The association is still there, and it is what counts most. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada put so much emphasis on the printing and distribution of his books for this very reason. That which was previously hidden in remote areas and thus available to only a fortunate few, now could be disseminated to the societies at large, to multiple nations and in multiple languages.

If you were a truth seeker living in the eighteenth century or before and residing far away from the saints of the Vedic tradition, you really had no chance for finding true knowledge. The best you could do was speculate and hope to find derivatives of the summit of knowledge known as Vedanta in other works that you read. Now today the world is very fortunate, for the number of books glorifying the Supreme Lord and His personal form has increased. There is also an army of selfless servants of the acharyas, leaders in the spiritual movement of divine love, who try to distribute transcendental knowledge to as many people as possible. Thus the association comes even if we’re not purposefully seeking it out, making even the people of Kali, who are generally unfortunate and short-lived, very blessed indeed.

In Closing:

On internet for class assignment given,

In past to library by mom would be driven.

 

And then go back centuries before,

To find real knowledge a difficult chore.

 

Saints have provided an easier way,

To know Absolute Truth now and today.

 

Continuously working, intellect’s hunger to feed,

Thus even Kali’s population becoming fortunate indeed.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Merging Into Transcendence

Posted by krishnasmercy on September 27, 2013

Altar for worshiping Krishna“The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge merges entirely into transcendence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.23)

Bhagavad-gita, 4.23Question: How can I continue to work in the material world and remain unattached? I don’t know how my knowledge of God will increase if I have to continue to work for a living. How am I supposed to find transcendence if I have all of this other stuff to do?

Developing Krishna consciousness, which is the original consciousness, is not easy for one who is conditioned. By definition, one who takes birth in the material world is considered conditioned. They operate under the rules imposed by the higher nature. There are hurricanes, earthquakes, diseases, military conflicts, and depression to contend with. The spirit soul is by nature free, so these things aren’t natural for it. When they are present, the same pure spirit soul is considered conditioned. To break out of the conditioned state and reach a liberated one is not impossible, though it may take some time.

Consider the following hypothetical scenario:

Contact lens case“My left eye is so blurry. It seems to be okay during the day, when I have my contact lenses on, but at night when I take them off it’s almost impossible to see. This is even with my eyeglasses on. I basically have to watch television with one eye. In the morning it seems to be okay, but if I use the computer for a little while, suddenly the eye gets blurry very quickly. When I’m wearing contact lenses, I can see okay.

“But lately even with the contact lenses on it’s been difficult to see. It feels like the lenses are losing their moisture very quickly. Something is definitely wrong. I tried going a few days without contacts, and the blurriness remained. Finally, I went to see an eye doctor. Right away they gave their diagnosis. I have ‘dry eye.’ Through so many years of contact lens wear and having spent so many hours in front of the computer, my eye has developed a problem. It is not getting enough moisture. The doctor has told me to stop wearing contact lenses immediately and to take these prescription eye drops twice a day. Then he’ll monitor the situation again after some time has passed.”

Fast forward a month…

Restasis“The problem still isn’t getting better. I have good days and bad, but I still have trouble seeing out of my left eye. Do you know how annoying it is to have only one functioning eye? I’ve been taking the drops, but there are no discernible results. The eye doctor says that my vision is improving and that I should give it a little more time. What other choice do I have?”

Fast forward another month…

“Wow, I can finally see again. I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was a gradual change, though it seemed like a long period of no progress followed by a sudden cure. My left eye is very clear now. I don’t even need to wear my glasses most of the time now. I can see just fine. I guess I just needed to allow the prescription drops to work their magic. I am so happy right now.”

For one who follows the path of transcendental knowledge, when remaining steady eventually the work merges into transcendence. This is what Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna is God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is Bhagavan, which is the complete realization of God. The invisible man in the sky who may or may not look old and punish the sinners is a vague concept. The spiritual energy that pervades the manifest world is also an incomplete realization. The localized spirit soul that is superior to the individual spirit soul within each body is also an incomplete realization. These features are subordinate to Bhagavan, who is the complete whole.

MusicTranscendence is the opposite of conditioned life. When your work merges into transcendence, it means that you are no longer materially affected by what you do. If I repeatedly sing a certain song all day long there are material consequences. My mind could eventually get sick of the song. I might neglect my other duties. I could develop an attachment to the words. Therefore the content of the song suddenly becomes important. If it’s about chasing women at all costs, I will be more driven towards something that is the opposite of transcendence.

On the other hand, if I always chant, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” I’m doing the same kind of work but getting an entirely different result. The name of Krishna is the same as Krishna. The name Rama addresses the same Krishna, but describes Him in a slightly different way. The name “Hare” also refers to Krishna but more specifically to His devoted energy potency, who though remaining a separate personality is still considered the same as Krishna because of the shared interest.

Smashed tennis racketChanting the aforementioned mantra is part of work in bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. Bhakti-yoga is itself transcendence, but in the beginning one may still be attached to the material modes of nature. These are the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. In ignorance I do stupid things without thinking and don’t get any benefit as a result. Think of the tennis player who smashes their racket in frustration. This is a stupid act because the racket is an inanimate object that is not culpable in the poor performance of the player. In passion I work hard to get a temporary result that doesn’t give me lasting satisfaction. Think of the team that wins the championship and then gets asked about the next season during the trophy presentation. They spent all this time working to reach the pinnacle of success for the season, and in an instant all of that is forgotten. They are right back where they started. Thus a neutral position is reached.

In goodness, I follow mundane principles of piety and religion in order to find a more comfortable position in life. I do things because they are considered “good for me,” though I don’t really know why. I worship God, or some kind of heavenly figure. I follow the rules and regulations of spiritual life. I understand that I am a spirit soul, part of the non-differentiated energy known as Brahman. Still, in my comfortable life in piety I am quite attached. I like where I am and where I am going.

Bhagavad-gita, 14.6“O sinless one, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating, and it frees one from all sinful reactions. Those situated in that mode develop knowledge, but they become conditioned by the concept of happiness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.6)

One who is unattached to these three modes is attached to Krishna. They could be in a hellish place and still worship the Supreme Lord. They could be engaged in fruitive activity, where it looks like they are working for a temporary result, but still thinking of their beloved Krishna all the time. They could be studying the Vedas, the original books of knowledge, and becoming familiar with the principles of jnana and vairagya, knowledge and renunciation, and still be thinking of Krishna the whole time.

Thinking of KrishnaIn the beginning stages of practicing bhakti-yoga, one likely isn’t situated in transcendental knowledge. This knowledge is difficult to absorb because it’s so different from anything else that is taught. And still, through enough dedication, knowledge will come. And when there is no attachment to the three modes accompanying this realization of transcendental knowledge, the work performed merges entirely into transcendence.

In the beginning stages it didn’t seem like this, but just as the eye took some time to heal, the formula of chanting and hearing the holy names and following bhakti-yoga in general eventually yields the best result. To merge into transcendence means to transcend the dualities of the material nature, which makes us think that one person is our friend and another our enemy. It makes us think that one kind of job is better than another and that birth in a particular situation is superior to birth in another. In transcendence, the Supreme Lord’s unmistakable presence is seen everywhere, and since He is all-attractive, seeing Him all the time brings the most pleasure to the individual spirit soul.

In Closing:

No progress in treatment to feel,

Still blurry, my eye not to heal.

 

Finally can see, no longer afraid.

Because on treatment path I stayed.

 

Transcendence to work the same way,

Work merges when holy names to say.

 

Effects of material nature no more,

Mind only charm of Krishna to adore.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Understanding Reincarnation

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 8, 2013

Lord Krishna“There is no work that affects Me; nor do I aspire for the fruits of action. One who understands this truth about Me also does not become entangled in the fruitive reactions of work.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.14)

Bhagavad-gita, 4.14

Question: “I don’t agree that birth indicates that the previous life was a failure. It doesn’t make sense to me because isn’t Krishna reincarnated? Is He a failure then?”

Understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very difficult through mental speculation alone. In fact, it is impossible, as we are limited by the concepts of time and space, both of which are infinite. Travel back in time with your mind and you’ll never reach an end; you’ll never hit a wall, so to speak. The same holds true with travelling forward. That is the meaning to infinity; there is no end. Add to the equation the fact that we can’t remember the past, even that which is pertinent to only our own lives, and you see how it is not possible to have a full range of perception. With a lack of information, how can we ever know someone who, by definition, is the complete whole?

Infinite spaceWithout authorized information, knowledge that we first accept on authority and then realize through practical application, we will think that God is totally like us. Possibly we won’t understand that He is a personality and that He has spiritual forms. We may think that He is just an energy or a theoretical concept. “Like utopia is a concept where everyone gets whatever they want, whenever they want, so too God must be this idea of a perfect being. If there are ever godly figures on earth, they must operate under the same strict laws of nature that apply to everyone else.”

The Bhagavad-gita tells us otherwise. In this work the first teaching presented is that the living spirit is not their body. Spirit is not matter. Spirit is not the hands, the legs, the face, the stomach, or the ears. Spirit is not the tall building or the computer. Spirit is the vital force that animates the different collections of matter. Why the need to mention the distinction? Why the need to bring this up right away in a book of higher knowledge?

We don’t really know spirit without first hearing about it. We identify with the body that we accept from the time of birth. We identify others based on their bodily features as well. We tend to not think beyond what is immediately visible. Because of this we lament over things that we shouldn’t and overly rejoice over that which isn’t so much of a thing to rejoice over. For instance, we are extremely saddened when others die, forgetting the fact that the vital force within never dies. This must be the case because different parts of the body can malfunction and not cause death. Therefore why should the entire machine’s malfunction indicate that the spiritual force is finished.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.25“It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable, immutable, and unchangeable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.25)

Bhagavad-gita As It IsIf the soul is eternal, why is there birth and death? From the Bhagavad-gita we learn that just as one takes off clothes and puts them on, so the spirit soul accepts different bodies and then puts on new ones after they are discarded. This occurs both while one is currently “alive” and after they pass on. The term “alive” applies only to our visible reference. We say the sun is out today, but the sun is always out. Sometimes we may not see it because of the cloud cover, but this is our defect, not the sun’s. In the same way, we say that someone is alive because they are visibly manifest before us, but this has no bearing on their existence.

What causes birth and death?

The Bhagavad-gita is a perfect summary of Vedic teachings. The Vedas are the oldest books of knowledge in the universe. They have no inception date because they come from God. Part of the definition of God is an eternal existence, where all the personal features are the same in quality as the individual they belong to. This is not the case with us, as our body decays and is replaced by a new one. This constant change occurs through what is known as reincarnation. In the Vedas it is said that reincarnation occurs only for individual souls who do not want to be with God. The desire is flawed, and so the commensurate residence is flawed as well.

Changing BodiesFrom this we understand that birth indicates a failure from the previous life. In the Bhagavad-gita, it is said that whatever state of being one remembers at the time of death, that state they will attain without fail. Putting two and two together, we see that since we attained a human state in the present life, we did not think of a divine state during the previous death. We know there was a previous death because the soul is eternal. We were somewhere else yesterday, though to someone else they might not have known that we existed yesterday. The outsider’s lack of knowledge of a previous existence has no bearing on the existence itself.

Bhagavad-gita, 8.6“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.6)

We may not like the fact that we weren’t perfectly God conscious in the previous life, but just as there is no use in dwelling on past mistakes for too long, in the present life we can use knowledge of the past failure to change our ways. Why not take the current birth as a blessing? No need to be offended by the truth presented in the Vedas; just make the most out of the present opportunity. The animals don’t have this opportunity. They must travel through the spiritual evolutionary chain in order to reach the human life. And then they must be fortunate enough to hear the truths mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita. And then they must be non-envious enough to want to accept the information. And then they must be firm enough to follow through on those teachings. Only then will the life end successfully.

Lord KrishnaConviction in knowledge of the truth about birth and death is further strengthened by knowing more about Krishna, which is the name for God that means all-attractive. Krishna is also the original personality, the detail behind the fuzzy picture of a Supreme Lord painted by reliance on mental speculation alone. Krishna describes Himself in the Bhagavad-gita. He says that He does not take birth. He does not die, either. Only the fool thinks He goes through reincarnation. Krishna appears in His own transcendental forms, by His own sweet will.

Reincarnation is driven by work, or karma. Krishna says that He is not under the influence of karma. This is clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gita [4.14]. Anyone who says otherwise either has never read the Bhagavad-gita properly or has intentionally decided to ignore its teachings. In either case, the result is the same: forgetfulness of God. With this forgetfulness there is no chance of a truly successful end to life. On the other hand, one who knows that Krishna is not bound by fruitive results to work also is able to transcend the same results. In simpler terms, if you really know Krishna, you will not be under the influence of karma.

How does that manifest exactly? Someone who knows Krishna doesn’t die?

Actually, the changes to the body still take place, but the results are dictated by Krishna Himself. Normally, responsibility for distributing fruitive results is relegated to higher authorities in charge of nature, but in the case of those who know Krishna, the Supreme Lord Himself takes responsibility. The people who know that Krishna is not affected by karma are known as devotees. Since they know this, they follow devotional service, or Krishna consciousness, which is best practiced in the modern age by chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Those who chant this mantra with full knowledge of the Supreme Lord’s position above karma happily exit their body at the end of life, confident of what awaits them.

In Closing:

As into human body soul to proceed,

Know that in previous life didn’t succeed.

 

Whether in spiritual form is the test,

For Krishna’s land is destination the best.

 

Over past failure don’t fret,

In this life Bhagavad-gita wisdom get.

 

Hear how reincarnation takes shape,

Then shift activities to plan for escape.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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