Monday, September 26, 2016

Five Reasons The Results From Demigod Worship Come Quickly

[Krishna and the demigods]“Men in this world desire success in fruitive activities, and therefore they worship the demigods. Quickly, of course, men get results from fruitive work in this world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.12)

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The Sanskrit word karma translates to “fruitive activity” in English. The comparison is made due to the frequent pairing of the word phala with karma. There is the work and then consequences, or fruits. Like the act of planting a seed and then waiting for the appropriate time for the tree to manifest and bear fruits, in karma the actions are taken and then at the right moment, which may occur in a future lifetime even, the just reward or punishment arrives.

In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that those who are in karma get their results quickly. The statement is made when discussing worship of the devas, who are gods. The religiously inclined person knows that they can’t do everything on their own. They understand that certain things are out of their control. Therefore they worship the devas for success. There are reasons why the success generally comes quickly.

1. The demigods are so deputed

There is the single source, the one entity from whom everything has come. The Sanskrit phrase is janmadya asya yatah. “From the Absolute Truth has come everything.” The less intelligent person relying only on mental speculation comes up with the theory that all we see around us evolved from a single cell. Through collisions, the passage of time, and the mixing of certain elements, evolution occurred to produce the many species.

Of course, missing from the discussion is the origin of that single cell. From where did it come? More importantly, why was it there? The single cell is essentially the atheist’s version of God. The Vedas provide more clarity, assigning names and attributes to the origin. One of His names is Krishna, which means “all-attractive.” The same Krishna appears in the manifest world from time to time, remaining changeless and supreme, above any kind of evolution.

“Unintelligent men, who know Me not, think that I have assumed this form and personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.24)

For karma-phala, the devas are there. They are assigned this role by Krishna Himself. The devas are not to ask questions. They simply look for the appropriate worship. That worship can come from any kind of person, the worst character even. If the worship is done properly, then the result comes. In this sense the demigods are running something like an online retail outlet. They look for payment only, and they have many things in stock, from good health to powerful abilities.

2. It is in the nature of a temporary land

The material world is temporary and miserable. Since the world itself is subject to eventual destruction, so is everything achieved while living in it. Results come quickly; otherwise the nature of the land would be violated. A simple example is the moving of the hand. I make the decision to move my hand. The decision is so quick that I don’t have to think long about it. Quickly after making the decision, the hand moves.

In a similar way, by worshiping the devas for fruitive results, the higher powers get into gear to make sure the results manifest. Sometimes the results don’t come, due to limitations in the world. One person asks to land a job, and a competitor seeks the same boon. It is impossible for both to get the desired result. Nevertheless, since the world is temporary, the temporary objects and abilities sought from the demigods tend to arrive quickly.

3. The rapidity is based on the grand scheme

Do you know time? Obviously there is past, present and future, but what about beyond that? In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that the person who really understands time knows about the day and night of Brahma; namely how long they are.

“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma's one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)

Lord Brahma is the creator. He is like the first living entity of the material world. He uses the three modes of material nature to create the various species, which are then inhabited by spirit souls like him. Individual souls are all equal; they simply take up different body types based on karma.

The results of fruitive activity arrive quick in comparison to the length of Brahma’s day. Billions of years is a long time, but that is only a short period of time for the creator. So if my worship of a deva bears fruit in ten years, that is actually nothing in the grand scheme. Even the length of human life is but a blip on a chart of the time continuum.

4. It facilitates illusion

By results arriving quickly, the living entity’s illusion gets strengthened. The illusion is that I am this body and that with this body I am the doer. Though there is worship of a higher power involved, it is the individual who takes up the worship. Therefore they feel proud when achieving this result.

“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)

The material nature actually must cooperate for any results to manifest. The illusion is beneficial in the sense that it fulfills the desire of the living entity to enjoy separate from God. It is something like sitting in a cinema hall and becoming upset over something that happens in the movie. Obviously, the film is scripted and not real, but the viewer intentionally falls into illusion to get the enjoyment they desire. In a similar manner, the desired enjoyment in the material world is to forget God. An easy way to do that is to get the results to fruitive activity quickly.

5. Gods like Shiva are interested in something else

Just because the demigods facilitate the results to karma, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are interested in the temporary. Mahadeva, the great god, is constantly worshiping Krishna in His form of Rama. One of Mahadeva’s many names is Ashutosha, which means “easily pleased.” He does not dedicate much time to his materialistic devotees. They are not really devotees in fact; they are just doing business.

[Krishna and the demigods]If the results to karma were to arrive after a long time, men would lose faith in the process. That would defeat the entire purpose of coming to the material world. The Supreme Lord grants the desires of the living entities. By seeing the behavior of Shiva and other pious souls, whose association is auspicious, hopefully a light bulb goes off. Maybe there is something more to be achieved in this life. Maybe there is something beyond karma, which brings gains that are erased by the passage of time. Maybe it is better to worship the Supreme God, who uses discrimination. Maybe it is better to approach someone who looks out for the spiritual welfare of the devotees; someone who will deny requests that are not of long-term benefit, paramartha.

In Closing:

When worship of demigods properly done,

The results then quickly to come.

 

To the illusion of identity strength giving,

That I am the doer, with false notion living.

 

Gods like Shiva diverted elsewhere in mind,

Focus on Rama, for worshipers not much time.

 

Land is temporary, so are things which to get,

Better if in devotion to Supreme Lord set.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Five Advantages Of The Sannyasa Ashrama

[Lord Chaitanya]“The Supreme Lord said, To give up the results of all activities is called renunciation [tyaga] by the wise. And that state is called the renounced order of life [sannyasa] by great learned men.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.2)

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Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu once referenced a verse from shastra which states a prohibition on the acceptance of the sannyasa ashrama in the age of Kali. Chaitanya was a divine preacher appearing in India during the medieval period. Shastra is scripture, ancient works of the Vedas that are timeless, not having a known date of inception. Sannyasa is complete renunciation, and an ashrama is a spiritual institution. The sannyasa-ashrama is the last stage of life if one follows the four ashramas assigned for man.

“In this Age of Kali, five acts are forbidden: the offering of a horse in sacrifice, the offering of a cow in sacrifice, the acceptance of the order of sannyasa, the offering of oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a man’s begetting children in his brother’s wife.” (Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Krishna-janma-khanda, 185.180)

[Lord Chaitanya]Despite being forbidden, Mahaprabhu Himself accepted sannyasa. He took the renounced order for specific reasons. Since He is a combined incarnation of God and the energy of God, there was no need for Him to accept any external garb or adhere to any formality. Still, by doing so He showed that there are several advantages to the sannyasa-ashrama.

1. No pressure from attachments

I would love to sit and read all day. There are so many books available to me, especially now that we are in the information age. I don’t have to go to the library or bookstore. I can purchase online and have the entire work downloaded and ready to read within seconds. I feel so peaceful after going through an entire book uninterrupted.

The problem is that I rarely get this opportunity. It doesn’t have to involve reading in your case. Just pick whichever activity you enjoy. There are so many pressing engagements that get in the way. These are all rooted in attachment. I am attached to my family, so I have to go to work to support them. Putting a roof over the head and food on the table is not enough. They need to be happy as well. Thus an entire lifetime can be spent dealing with the pressure due to attachments.

Sannyasa does not have this burden. Since it is full renunciation, there is typically no job. You maintain yourself by begging. Even in that there are rules. You’re not supposed to collect more than you need. There is no saving for a rainy day. I beg to get enough for today. Tomorrow I will have to beg again. Through this lifestyle, I am free of the pressures of work.

2. The ability to travel and spread the divine message

The begging is made easier when people see why you are doing it. If they see that you are constantly travelling, from place to place, not staying anywhere for too long, generally they understand that there is a benefit to helping the sannyasi. The sannyasi isn’t really begging; they are providing an opportunity for those with attachments to help someone spread the highest wisdom.

Without the pressure due to attachments, there is nothing to stop a preacher from going from village to village. The knowledge they share is necessary since man easily falls victim to attachments. The sannyasi allows a person to see the future, the sure-to-manifest vision of death wiping everything away.

3. People will respect you

A message is just words, after all. Philosophy is passed on in book form through shastra. What need is there, then, for a travelling preacher, who begs for a living? Can’t the truths of Vedic wisdom be assimilated by a person who has a job? We know intelligent people from all walks of life. Just let the ordinary man assume the burden of teaching society.

Sannyasa automatically brings some credibility. There is respect for a person who has renounced everything. Sannyasa is known as the fearless ashrama. There is no turning back. There is no time to worry about how to survive. Everything is placed in the Lord’s hands. Generally, people acknowledge this sacrifice by offering respect.

4. People put weight in your message

The benefit of receiving that respect is that there is more attention given to the message. It is like standing up in a classroom and making sure everyone is listening. It is one thing to preach detachment from a book, but it is another to live it. The sannyasi gets others to listen just based on the institution they have entered.

Since the message they bring carries extra weight, the sannyasi is also a kind of guru. They don’t have to be officially acknowledged as such, but since they teach the truth about the Supreme Lord, they are a spiritual master. The sannyasi-guru generally gets a lot of attention and respect. Society benefits from having respected people carrying the highest message.

5. Can better focus on God

This is the ultimate benefit to the individual entering the institution. It’s great to be free of the pressure due to attachments, but if you’re not truly self-realized, you’ll just create new attachments. You’ll then feel the pressure again. It’s great to travel from place to place, but if your mind is simply focused on the external beauty of different areas, there is little benefit.

The renounced order is meant for renunciation from material life. Vairagya, combined with jnana, facilitates the practice of bhakti-yoga. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates bhakti-yoga as “Krishna consciousness.” Krishna is a name for God, and so bhakti-yoga is also “God consciousness.”

There is a prohibition on the institution of sannyasa in this present age of quarrel and hypocrisy due to the propensity to cheat. An easy way to avoid working for a living is to put on the garb of a renounced mendicant. Then you can use that position to fill your belly.

[Radha-Krishna worship]Nevertheless, the genuine sannyasi always brings a benefit, both to society and to themselves. Lord Krishna declares that the real meaning to sannyasa is the state of giving up the results to activities. This means that any person can enter the institution, at least in spirit. Indeed, the goal of the valuable human life is to reach this mindset of renunciation and go beyond to the stage of loving God without motive and without interruption.

In Closing:

Chaitanya the sannyasa position taking,

So that benefit for others making.

 

First that from attachments free,

Can travel anywhere, sleep under a tree.

 

From there others respect to give,

Attention when hearing of how to live.

 

Sannyasa tool for in devotion becoming stronger,

Really a spirit, when attached to results no longer.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

What Is The Secret To Remaining Detached

[Lord Krishna]“You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.47)

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Friend1: Detachment is important.

Friend2: Why?

Friend1: Because it just makes sense.

Friend2: Why?

Friend1: Things are out of your control. You are not the doer.

Friend2: “The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)

Friend1: It makes sense even outside the realm of spirituality.

Friend2: How so?

Friend1: Sports is a great example. The key to success is not being overly nervous. Nervousness is due to attachment to the result; the strong desire for a successful outcome.

Friend2: Sort of like being afraid to fail.

Friend1: Fear; exactly. If you are a little detached from the outcome, it’s easier to relax and go about your business.

Friend2: That’s true. Do you know the things to which we have the most attachment?

Friend1: That’s easy. Significant other. Friends. Family.

Friend2: So should we be detached from them?

Friend1: Yes.

Friend2: Isn’t that kind of mean?

Friend1: It’s the truth. The thing is, it’s difficult to be detached from people who are so important to us. What is the secret? What do you tell people who want to be detached, but struggle with it?

Friend2: Look into the future.

Friend1: How? By visiting one of those astrologer-type people?

Friend2: Not necessary. Go back to the sports example. There is no reason to be afraid of the outcome, since so many outcomes have already occurred in the past. People moved on from defeat. Gain and loss are almost like the tossing of a coin. One second you are happy, the next you are sad. Today you are a winner, and tomorrow you suffer bitter defeat.

Friend1: What does that have to do with the future, though?

Friend2: The past lets you see into the future. You know that at some point going forward, the outcome pressing your mind will be a distant memory. Armed with that knowledge there is no reason to be so attached.

Friend1: What about friends and family members?

Friend2: This is a harsher reality, but true nonetheless. The future says that one day we will be without the association of our closest allies. Not only is the separation destined to occur, there is nothing we can do to prevent it.

Friend1: That’s just the laws of nature.

Friend2: Exactly. So why be so attached to something that will leave you anyway?

Friend1: That makes sense.

Friend2: Remember, detachment is a vehicle towards reaching a better destination more swiftly. Being aloof from this world affords you a certain advantage, but there must be an end goal.

Friend1: It’s called vairagya in Sanskrit. It’s paired with jnana, or knowledge.

Friend2: Vairagya towards material things, raga towards spiritual things. Have attachment for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His association is there to stay. It lasts through many lifetimes. It’s always there actually, just the realization is missing at present. Vairagya is one way to clear the mind to further meditate on the Divine, whose transcendental attributes make Him a pleasure to be around.

Friend1: So if I’m attached to Krishna, the all-attractive one, that’s not a bad thing?

Friend2: Why would it be?

Friend1: What if it leads to neglect of other things?

Friend2: Like what?

Friend1: Day to day responsibilities. Being a good citizen. Things like that.

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: A pure devotee is automatically a perfect gentlemen. They are a symbol of sacrifice, which means that they are the ideal example for others to follow. They are doing the best work for others through their connection with God, known as yoga. To us, who are riddled by attachment and fear of loss, this is difficult to see. But our blindness doesn’t make the truth any less valid. Attachment to Krishna is favorable, it should be encouraged and it should be maintained into the future.

In Closing:

Benefits of vairagya I’ve heard,

But more to it than knowledge of word.

 

How detached from things to remain?

Sad when lost, so happy when gained.

 

From the past the future can see,

The return to equilibrium however to be.

 

Friends, family, outcomes not forever to last,

Through detachment advancing towards Krishna fast.

Friday, September 23, 2016

How Can You Say God Is Nice When So Many Bad Things Happen

[Lord Krishna]“All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their interim state, and unmanifest again when they are annihilated. So what need is there for lamentation?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.28)

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Friend1: God is nice.

Friend2: Of course.

Friend1: Because He is Paramatma.

Friend2: The Supersoul, residing in the heart.

Friend1: He is always with me. I am actually never without God.

Friend2: You, me and everyone else. He is the very definition of the atom, paramanu. Think about it. How amazing was the discovery of the atom?

Friend1: It was pretty big.

Friend2: And yet the Vedas had already defined it. The concept of paramanu predates the discipline of science itself, or “natural philosophy” as it was once known.

Friend1: People will say that they received the grace of God after something good happens to them. Especially if that thing came to them after a struggle.

Friend2: Right. That’s why so many rehabilitated drug addicts turn to religion. They were at rock bottom and found their way back up. They attribute the success to the Divine.

Friend1: Alright, that’s understandable. What about the opposite situation?

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: Someone who had everything good and then it all changed. They had the worst things happen to them.

Friend2: Like what?

Friend1: It doesn’t matter specifically; choose anything. Rape. Theft. Murder. A natural disaster comes and wipes out their whole family. How is this person supposed to believe that God is nice? Actually, how can anyone properly convince them that God is nice?

Friend2: Those are good questions. I like how you used the extremes for an example. This is a good exercise for the brain, to see how well the philosophy is assimilated.

Friend1: So there is a simple answer? Obviously, it’s known that good and bad things happen in life. That’s just how it goes. I can see someone acknowledging that, but going one step further to say that God is nice seems like a difficult sell.

Friend2: What you are describing is essentially loss. Is that fair to say?

Friend1: Hmm, okay. Yeah, theft is a loss. Rape is the loss of safety, privacy, respect. Murder is the loss of life. The natural disaster is loss at a grand scale. Okay, I’ll agree with you.

Friend2: Good. Now, the thing is, loss can only happen after there is gain.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: You can only lose something after you first gained it.

Friend1: Okay.

Friend2: So why aren’t you just as upset at the gain?

Friend1: I’m not sure I follow.

Friend2: If you’re mad at God for losing something, you should really be angry at Him for giving it to you. You should think that God is not nice because He gave you birth. He’s mean because He gave you friends, family, a nice house, and a good job.

Friend1: Why would someone be angry at those things?

Friend2: That’s what I’m trying to explain. It’s difficult to see, but it’s the proper perspective. The loss which you referenced was guaranteed as soon as there was acceptance. Krishna explains this nicely in the Bhagavad-gita. When there is birth, there must be death, and so on. The wise person does not let this bother them.

Friend1: So, just because we lose something it doesn’t necessarily mean God is not nice?

Friend2: Exactly. You get something. You form an attachment. It leaves you. You become sad. This cycle is not managed directly by God. With Him, loss is not always a bad thing, either. One of His names is Hari, which means “one who takes away.” For the devotee He sometimes takes away things that are important to them.

Friend1: Why would He do that?

Friend2: They are obstacles in the path of devotional service, bhakti-yoga. To make the proper assessment on God’s disposition, you have to judge His influence on things that are beyond the temporary.

Friend1: Like above gain and loss?

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: Right. He is always with us as Paramatma. That is a good start. The next thing is that He always leaves the door open for returning to Him, to the place where there isn’t the duality of gain and loss. He welcomes us back, even if we’ve ignored Him for many lifetimes. That is kindness. He sends the acharya to dissipate the darkness of ignorance. He allows us to stay with Him through something as simple as sound. His amazing kindness is ever present in the maha-mantra itself: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

How God nice considered to be,

When so many tragedies to see?

 

From the loss we’re upset,

But why not when first to get?

 

Guaranteed whenever to gain,

In this way birth and death the same.

 

To spiritual world keeping open always the door,

His kindness lifting to ceiling from floor.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Five Reasons I Am Not God

[Radha-Krishna]“The Personality of Godhead is described as vastu, or the Substance, and the living entities are described as vastavas, or the innumerable samples of the Substance in relative existence. The relationship of these substantive portions with the Supreme Substance can never be annihilated, for it is an eternal quality inherent in the living being.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 1.91 Purport)

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I am not God. Seriously, I’m telling you. I mean it. Don’t call me God. If you do, I’ll get angry. Don’t even think about it. Why do I have to stipulate this? Did I suddenly lose my mind, where I went around telling people that I created everything? Did I have a sudden bout of insanity where I pretended to be a messiah, coming to save the people?

Actually, Vedanta philosophy is so rich and profound that there is some basis for equating the living entities with God. There is simultaneous oneness and difference, something Chaitanya Mahaprabhu calls achintya-bhedabheda-tattva. We are like samples of God, identical to Him in qualitative makeup. We are Brahman, and He is also Brahman. This is the spiritual energy. There are key differences as well, and a person who is not aware of them mistakenly thinks they can become God, which makes them no different in intelligence than the lower species, like the animals.

1. I have to take birth

One Sanskrit word that describes God is aja. This means “unborn.” He is the only living entity who has never taken birth. The concept is impossible for the human mind to fathom. This is because of infinity. What does it mean to have no beginning? For every beginning, we know there is some point in time prior to that. Even under the foolish theory that says everything came into being through a single-cell organism, there had to be something prior to that. Where did that organism come from? Did it magically appear?

“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)

I have to take birth. That is how I got to where I am today. I don’t remember that birth. I assume that it happened because I see other births. I know that after birth there is development of the body. Eventually, there is also death. The Bhagavad-gita says that where there is death, there must be birth, and so on.

2. I can’t always get what I want

This is likely the most obvious indication of my lack of spotless divinity. I have to work for things. For example, I try my best to avoid catching a cold. I take Ayurvedic supplements each day. I try to maintain good heat within the body. I eat on time. I try to sleep a decent amount. Still, sometimes I catch a cold. There is nothing I can do to prevent this. I can’t always get what I want.

For the Supreme Lord it is different. Just by thinking He can manifest anything in front of Him. Creating the universes for Him is as easy as exhaling. Destroying the same universes, with their massive complexity and variety, is accomplished through inhaling. Everything is so easy for Him that He is known as atmarama, which means “self-satisfied.”

3. The threefold miseries of life affect me.

The heavens, other people, and the body and mind - these three are sources of misery for everyone living in the material world. No success is capable without cooperation from these sources. I can do everything right, thinking that the desired outcome is sure to manifest, when something gets in the way at the last moment. A hurricane destroys the house I was building. Someone runs a red light and crashes into my car. Suddenly, a disease pops up from within that prevents me from working.

The Supreme Lord is not subject to these miseries. In fact, the person overseeing these miseries works at His behest. Known as Durga Devi, she carries a trident that symbolizes the threefold miseries. Her favor lessens the pain inflicted, but with the Supreme Lord the trident feels like a mink glove or a soft cushion. When He descends to this earth, the miseries are still there but they have no inhibiting influence. A famous example is the lifting of Govardhana Hill done by Shri Krishna.

4. I have to die

Sadly, I can’t live forever. As a spirit soul, nothing can destroy me. Yet this specific combination of body and spirit will not remain together in perpetuity. Time, which is influenced by fruitive activities, or karma, eventually takes away. It is known as the great subduing agent.

“Unintelligent men, who know Me not, think that I have assumed this form and personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.24)

As God is aja, He is amrita, or immortal. Though He appears and disappears from this world in His personal form, His body is changeless and supreme. Obviously, we have to accept this fact on faith. Since we eventually die, we have no way of confirming if someone lives forever. Nevertheless, the high philosophy presented by the Vedas and the longevity in relevance of works like the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam give us more confidence in the matter.

5. There are limitations in action

This is a derivative of the subjection to the threefold miseries. Let’s say I enjoy a specific beverage. I want to drink it every day. Fine, that is possible, but there are negative effects. The beverage may not be healthy for me. Say I want to drink more than average today. There will be a reaction. At some point the limit will be reached.

[Vamanadeva]There are no limitations with the Supreme Lord. He can expand Himself infinitely if He wants. He gave an idea of how much He can expand one time through His dwarf incarnation known as Vamana. At first Vamana was diminutive. Later He expanded so far that with a single step He could cover the three worlds.

[Radha-Krishna]Just as God can do whatever He wants without negative consequences, so the same applies to devotion to Him, known as bhakti-yoga. A person can constantly engage in devotional service and not have it negatively influence them. This is because Krishna oversees the practice of devotion to Him. He maintains what the devotee has and brings to them what they lack. A simple test can be made through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Chant this a little bit, then chant some more, and then chant all the time, as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu recommends.

In Closing:

That I am not God I tell to you,

Believe me for this is true.

 

Not always what I want getting,

Death when sun of life setting.

 

Again birth I will have to take,

Until from slumber of ignorance to awake.

 

Absent in Supreme Lord should know,

Protected when to His shelter to go.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Five Reasons Bhakti-yoga Never Gets Old

[Lord Krishna]“Krishna is always remembered, and His name is always chanted by millions of devotees, but the devotees never become saturated. Instead of becoming disinterested in thinking of Krishna and in chanting His holy name, the devotees get newer and newer impetus to continue the process.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 22)

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Time, or kala as it is known in Sanskrit, does not discriminate. It does not operate on only a few individuals. Time keeps moving, like the sands falling from the hourglass. Since it leads to a change in bodies, rebirth is compared to spinning on a wheel. That which time influences is known as the samsara-chakra, or the continuously spinning wheel of suffering.

One indication of time’s influence is the preference in activities. One day I get a new videogame. It’s one I wanted for a long time. I’m so excited to finally have it. I play it for a few days. Since it is really good, the engagement extends out for a few weeks, even. After a while, though, boredom sets in. The game that was previously new becomes old. Something new is now required as a replacement. Bhakti-yoga doesn’t suffer from this defect, and there are several reasons why.

1. Krishna is not old

The beneficiary of bhakti-yoga is God the person. In His complete feature, He is more than an abstract. We can say that God is the origin of everything. This is simply affixing a name to a concept. We know that everything has a beginning, and so the beginning of all beginnings is the topmost person. The Sanskrit term “sarva-karana-karanam” says that God is the cause of all causes.

[Lord Krishna]Since the original person is all-attractive, one way to address Him is Krishna. The all-attractive one descended to this earth in His personal form some five thousand years ago. An interesting thing was observed. He never seemed to grow old. On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Krishna counseled Arjuna on how to proceed in a war. Over one hundred years had elapsed since Krishna emerged from the womb of Devaki, but He still looked like a teenager. Despite being God, and thus automatically the oldest person in the world, Krishna maintains the youthful image. In this sense He never gets old.

2. There are always new things to learn about Krishna

I get bored with the videogame because I know everything there is to know. I am so good at it that there is no longer a challenge. With the Supreme Lord Krishna, it is impossible to know Him fully. Recorded history attests to this fact. Every aspect of history is tied to God in some way. As history continues to be written, the glories of God continue to expand.

Then there is the issue of comprehension. After getting bits and pieces of information about Krishna, there should be some processing. “Okay, God is great. But how great? Okay, Krishna is all-attractive, but how beautiful is He really?” The more time a person spends in bhakti-yoga, the more new things they discover about the delight of Vrindavana.

3. There are more realizations with time

In addition to learning new things about Krishna, there are more realizations. We can think of it like finding more ways to relate things we see around us to God. As a simple example, we can take family life. We can love our children so much, but that love is not guaranteed to pay off. Often times, the more things we buy for our children, the more spoiled they become. Though they are everything to us, we may not be everything to them.

In bhakti-yoga, there is the realization that Krishna is the most appreciative person. He is gratefulness personified. He remembers even a single deed done in His honor. Proof of this is seen in the fate of the unsuccessful yogi. If perfect Krishna consciousness is not achieved in a single lifetime, there is no loss. Whatever progress was made gets maintained going forward.

“On taking such a birth, he again revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success, O son of Kuru.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.43)

4. New outlets for service

Perfection in bhakti-yoga can come through nine different avenues. There is hearing. This is the simplest. Just hear about God. The only thing involved is a sacrifice of time. It really isn’t a sacrifice, since the time spent in hearing will be more worthwhile than any other activity.

There is chanting as well. “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” There is offering prayers. A person can prepare food items and bring it in front of a representation of the Supreme Lord, the archa-vigraha. Through so many available outlets for service, the less chance there is to get bored.

5. More reciprocation means more pleasure in service

How does a statue reciprocate? How does someone we can’t see acknowledge the receipt of our prayers and offerings? The Supreme Lord rests within every heart as the Supersoul, Paramatma. He provides the reciprocation from within.

“The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are surrendered to Me, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss enlightening one another and conversing about Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.9)

The more a person advances in bhakti-yoga, the more they realize about the Supreme Lord. They come to understand His unmatched loving nature. Since they get reciprocation, even though not explicitly seeking it, they feel renewed enthusiasm to continue in service.

In Closing:

Though for this game previously to pray,

To something else, no longer wishing to stay.

 

Bhakti-yoga not following pattern the same,

Ever fresh, like spring season just came.

 

Since with Krishna always something new,

More learning, contemplation of beautiful hue.

 

Chant, pray, or take meditation’s seat,

In devotion a way even to transcendentally eat.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why Not Worship Krishna As Brahman

[Shri Krishna]“And I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness, and which is immortal, imperishable and eternal.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.27)

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Friend1: Alright, let’s discuss the impersonalists today.

Friend2: Brahmavadis or Mayavadis?

Friend1: Let’s go with Mayavadis. The Brahmavadis are at least honest. That is my opinion.

Friend2: How so?

Friend1: They know Brahman very well. It is the extent of their understanding of spirituality. They see the spiritual equality of all living beings. They have been taught that Brahman is the last word.

Friend2: What is different about the Mayavadis?

Friend1: They reject the idea of personalism when presented to them through authority. The actual fact is that both personalism and impersonalism are valid. They both exist. It’s just that the impersonal is an aspect of the personal. The spiritual energy is something that emanates from the source of all spirit.

Friend2: What do you mean by “reject”? How do they do that?

Friend1: Basically, they like to quote from the Bhagavad-gita and other works dealing with the Supreme Lord as Krishna. Yet the Bhagavad-gita says that Krishna is the source of Brahman. He, therefore, cannot be maya. The Mayavadi thus has to be dishonest in order to insist that Krishna is impersonal.

Friend2: And you notice they don’t worship Krishna, either? They are very averse to bhakti-yoga.

Friend1: What do you mean exactly?

Friend2: Think about it. They at least acknowledge that Krishna is Brahman, right?

Friend1: Yeah. They’ll say He is a Brahman-realized soul. He is like a prophet. Man, I want to puke when I hear that. What an offense! The mental speculation from these guys knows no limits. They have no shame.

Friend2: Worship Krishna, Shiva, Brahma, Ganesha. It doesn’t really matter. All paths lead to the same place.

Friend1: That’s exactly what they say.

Friend2: So why don’t they worship Krishna? Why don’t they chant the holy names in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare?

Friend1: I’m going to say they think it’s too limiting. It’s sectarian. It’s dogmatic. They are above that.

Friend2: Right, but they say that Krishna is Brahman. If they really believed that, they would chant Hare Krishna. They would worship Him regularly. At the very least, they wouldn’t have a problem with people who do.

Friend1: Some of them don’t have a problem with it.

Friend2: Right, but they won’t try bhakti-yoga. They’ll chant anything else except Krishna, Vishnu, or Rama. The reason is that deep down they know that Krishna is not merely Brahman. They are averse to worshiping Him. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that the impersonal philosophy is the last snare of maya.

Friend1: I’ve heard that before. Can you elaborate on the meaning?

Friend2: The first snare is bhoga, or material enjoyment. When that fails, as it is guaranteed to, eventually the last resort is impersonalism. Let me become God. I am equal to Brahman, and the divine personalities described in the Vedas are the goal. I can be just like them.

Friend1: I see. Of course, that is illusion as well.

Friend2: Hence the last snare of maya. They are interested in competing with Krishna, which makes them no different from the bhogi, or sense enjoyer. It would be one thing if they didn’t know any better. But they still reference the Bhagavad-gita, twisting the meanings to the verses to suit their agenda. For this reason Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was vehemently against even hearing the Mayavada philosophy.

Friend1: They feel threatened by the worship.

Friend2: Exactly. It’s like the famous atheists Hiranyakashipu and Ravana. They couldn’t leave well enough alone. They had to try to stop other people’s worship of Vishnu. The Mayavadis make the same attempt by trying to weaken the will of the devotees. Imagine if someone said that your parents aren’t real. What would you think?

Friend1: I’d be offended. It’s a ridiculous assertion.

[Shri Krishna]Friend2: So these speculators claim things like the Bhagavad-gita not being real, that Krishna is a mythological character meant to be understood symbolically. See, they are not wise enough to quell the doubts they have from within. Those doubts are there since they envy God. Once that envy goes away, then the real knowledge shines from within.

“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.11)

In Closing:

On quotes of sacred texts to rely,

But twisting the meanings to try.

 

Desire to compete in Mayavada camp,

So not shining within the knowledge lamp.

 

Enjoyment first when of human life aware,

To become one with God maya’s last snare.

 

Krishna is Brahman from Bhagavad-gita we know,

Still averse to worship Him are impersonalists so.