Sunday, June 17, 2012

Range of Applicability

Krishna's lotus feet“Anything, either material or spiritual, is but an expansion of the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and as stated in the Bhagavad-gita (13.13), the omnipotent Lord has His transcendental eyes, heads and other bodily parts distributed everywhere. He can see, hear, touch or manifest Himself anywhere and everywhere, for He is present everywhere as the Supersoul of all infinitesimal souls, although He has His particular abode in the absolute world.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.24 Purport)

It’s strange to think that God can hear you from anywhere. Though typically you turn to the sky in times of trouble or you enter a house of worship when you really need help, such changes in physical orientation are not necessary. The Supreme Lord is considered omnipresent, which means that He is everywhere. Thus He can hear you from any place and during any time. Regardless of your condition, peaceful or in distress, you can connect with Him. That boon is beyond amazing, for it allows you to do more than just look for help.

Think of all the things that you like to do. In each area there is some range of applicability. Some ranges are larger than others, but regardless, there are certain places where you are prevented from taking up the activity in question. For instance, if you like to play ice hockey, you need a rink to skate on. Without a frozen pond in the near vicinity, your desire to play ice hockey must remain in a potential state. The same dependency on external circumstances exists with seeing a movie, eating at a restaurant, spending time with friends and family, etc.

It is therefore not surprising that any invention which can expand the range of applicability for preferred activities would be welcomed with open arms. Enter the internet and the more recent advancement of the smartphone. Now you can connect with people who are situated thousands of miles away. Log on to a web interface and type your information so that it can be transmitted to other parties in an instant. No longer do you have to spend time alone. If you want, you can even communicate via voice and video in the same manner.

video chat on an iphoneYour favorite games can now also be played on your smartphone or tablet PC. This means that in more places you can do the things that you like. If you prefer to talk to others, even while you are driving alone you can now have someone with you. If you prefer reading books, electronic versions of popular texts are available for reading on the tiniest of devices, giving you unimaginable portability. The idea is that the more time you can spend doing the things that you like, the happier you will be.

The omnipresent Supreme Lord accounted for this benefit long before we could ever think of it. He is the Supreme Soul, so He is the life of all creatures. His energy pervades the entire space, though His most blissful feature that is clearly defined for the purified vision is situated in the spiritual sky. This, however, doesn’t preclude Him from hearing and seeing everywhere. That connection with Him is available to any person, at any place, under any circumstance.

Why is this ability important? Just as we take pleasure from action, the interaction with the Supreme Lord is considered the most pleasurable. We may not be aware of this fact yet, but the Vedic scholars have revealed this secret for our benefit. They knew about our qualities before we knew we had an existence because the properties of spirit do not change from instance to instance. At the core of every living entity is a fragment of spirit, emanating from the giant collection of spiritual energy known as God. The fragments have individual identities in a spiritual existence, but this doesn’t mean that the inherent qualities are different.

The core qualities of the soul are eternality, knowledge and bliss. Eternality is evidenced in the inability of the soul to die. What we know as death is merely the shedding of clothes for the individual soul, giving up old and useless garments in favor of new ones. Birth is the next acceptance, taking on another form after the previous one is discarded. Throughout these changes the soul does not change; hence it is eternal.

“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)

Lord KrishnaThe knowledge aspect of the soul is difficult to decipher, especially considering how ignorant some species act. The animal has the same quality of spirit residing within, but it is unable to do complex math or communicate in different languages. The material qualities the animal assumes mask the brilliant qualities of the soul to a higher degree than do the qualities in the human being. Think of a lampshade covering the burning bright light from the bulb. This is how the soul’s knowledge is masked from the individual. Through the right education, knowledge isn’t necessarily gathered, but instead revealed.

Blissfulness is seen in the soul’s desire for ananda. Every single action we voluntarily follow is done to seek out this bliss. Even renunciation and austerity hope to further the aim of pleasure; the voluntary acceptance of punishment to reach a positive end. The soul is always looking for happiness, and since this tendency is revealed to us by the Vedic seers, they know best on how to help us find that bliss.

Not only is there a higher quality of bliss available, but it can be experienced in more instances as well. The range of applicability for brahmananda, or the bliss of experiencing the truth of Brahman, is infinite. You can take pleasure in the self, the individual soul, at any time, provided that you have the proper training. It is difficult to realize Brahman because through ignorance the perceived realization is that we are our body. Something bad happens to our body or to the body of someone else, and we get sad. If something good happens to the same, we are happy.

To see that we and everyone else are spirit soul, there is strict austerity required coupled with acceptance of higher knowledge. Yet more pleasurable than brahmananda is sharanagati, or the bliss of surrendering unto the Supreme Absolute Truth. Brahman is the collection of spiritual energy, but Parabrahman is the original source. Parabrahman is the person we generally refer to as God, but in the Vedas He is shown to have transcendental features.

Those spiritual body parts can do anything, and their reach is infinite. We liken them to body parts because that is a frame of reference we can use to understand the Supreme Lord. As Krishna, God is the most attractive, and thus connection with Him in a mood of devotional surrender brings the highest bliss. And what’s more, that connection can take place anywhere; it is not reserved for the temple, the book, or the remote ashrama. The houses of spiritual worship exist to foster the culture necessary for invoking that connection in the most number of places. The devotees, those who already connect with Krishna from anywhere, are like walking temples, as they bring the spiritual culture to others in the hopes that they will find the ananda they truly deserve.

Radha and KrishnaThe method of connecting with God that has the highest perceivable range of applicability is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Chant this mantra anywhere and everywhere, without shame or embarrassment. Hear the sound vibrations and know that your ears are connecting with God. All that is really required is remembrance, or vishno-smaranam, but the chanting helps to make that remembrance easier.

Though the ability to connect with the omnipresent Supreme Lord exists, we somehow think that devotional life is a struggle, that we are being punished by following real religion. It is just the opposite in fact, and if a little pressure is applied in the beginning stages, the veil of ignorance will soon be removed, and whatever preconceived notions we had about God and spirituality will vanish, leaving the door open to interact with the beautiful Krishna.

In Closing:

Many things we like to do for fun,

Better when in many places can be done.

 

Tablet pcs and mobile phones add new versatility,

Same activities now with higher range of applicability.

 

Talk to someone even while driving your car,

Same fun whether they are nearby or far.

 

Endeavor of highest pleasure also has the widest range,

Can practice anywhere, your position you need not change.

 

Chant holy names and remember God wherever you go,

That Krishna hears your devotion confidently know.

www.krishnasmercy.org