Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Backstage Passes

Narada Muni“If someone is able, by chance, to see a great saintly person like Narada face to face, who is always serene and merciful to everyone, then immediately that conditioned soul becomes liberated. This is exactly like being situated in the full light of the sun: there cannot be any visionary impediment.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 10)

You’re going to a concert of your favorite band. Sure, you listen to their music and derive enjoyment from it, but the music moves you so much that you follow other aspects to the people that make it. You read every interview they give, watch every live performance, and follow their daily movements. In this way the connection to them grows, and so by going to the concert, you hope to get even closer to them. The all-access backstage pass is the true boon in this regard, as you get to meet the band members face to face. You get to tell them what their music has meant to you.

Indeed, this tendency towards desiring personal meetings extends to all kinds of celebrities and famous personalities. These people touch so many lives, so it is only natural to try to want to meet them, to get a closer encounter where emotions can be exchanged. The hope is that the fateful meeting will be remembered going forward and that the interaction will further strengthen the bond of attachment. When that same tendency is applied towards the spiritual realm, where there are personalities famous for their ability to heal, the effects can last well beyond the current lifetime.

The saint dedicates their life to serving God. As both “service” and “God” can be vague terms, the saint knows the true definition of both due to their submissive attitude in hearing. They first heard the authorized information from their own teachers, and without a challenging attitude they accepted the principles and carried them out. Through both hearing and the practical application of the principles they reached a state known as God consciousness, wherein the mind constantly focuses on how to please the beloved Supreme Lord.

And He is indeed beloved. To develop that affection for Him, one should know His transcendental features. Another name for God is Bhagavan, which means one who possesses the attributes of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, knowledge, wisdom and renunciation to the fullest degree and at the same time. God is also Krishna, or He who is all-attractive. He is also Rama, or one who gives transcendental pleasure to others. He is Shyamasundara, or the beautiful youth with a blackish complexion. He is Ajita, or one who is unconquerable. He is Vishnu, or all-pervading. He is Achyuta, or one who never falls down. He is Parameshvara, or the supreme controller. He is Govinda, or one who gives pleasure to the cows and the senses. He is Gopala, or the protector of the cows. He is Madhava, or the husband of the goddess of fortune.

There are so many ways to describe God, and notice that the features described point to a personality. These features also never exhaust, so the personality in question must exist eternally. He must have a body and that body cannot be the same as ours. Our features change over time. The male loses hair on the head as they age, and the female develops wrinkles on the face very quickly. At an advanced age, organs that we previously counted on start to fail. The diminishing accelerates to the point that the body itself ceases to be useful, indicating that a new body is required. The changing of the bodies is known as reincarnation.

“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)

God’s body does not change like this. His vigraha, or form, is described as sach-chid-ananda, or eternally full of bliss and knowledge. The saint knows these facts from first accepting them from their spiritual master. They later become firm believers through executing bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. The service is directed at Bhagavan, and it manifests in different activities. There can be hearing, chanting, remembering, worshiping, serving the lotus feet, or simply honoring. Just as there is variety in the activities we undertake, in the pursuit to change consciousness for the better there are many avenues for travel.

To meet someone who practices bhakti-yoga is considered a great boon. The most exalted saints are so powerful that just by meeting them face to face one’s life can be turned around forever. This has happened many times with people who met Narada Muni, who is a sort of space-traveller who doesn’t do anything but sing the glories of Narayana, which is another name for God that means the source of all men.

Does Narada distribute an electrical charge? Is there something magical about his face that causes a change in others? Actually, it is his position with respect to occupation that brings the change. He exclusively follows bhakti-yoga, which is a unique discipline of spirituality because it seeks nothing but continued devotion to God. In pure bhakti, there is no desire for a temporary reward, a removal of distress, a mystic ability, or the cessation of activity. Rather, the humble prayer is that whatever state Shri Krishna places the devotee in, they still be allowed to practice their devotion.

Shrila PrabhupadaSomeone who follows this line of work is automatically in a superior position, making a meeting with them slightly nerve-racking. Imagine meeting someone who is considered flawless. They are respected by everyone else, so you’re a little hesitant to act in an impious manner in front of them. You also have heard about their past good deeds, so you can’t help but be won over by their presence. When you meet them face to face, if they should offer you any kind instruction, you will likely follow through on it, lest you run the risk of offending them.

The saints of the present age of Kali have been kind enough to extend their influence using recorded words. Instead of having to travel far and wide to meet them, we can consult their books and recorded lectures to get a similar benefit. Their words carry the same weight as their physical presence, if not greater, and those words are easier to consult on a regular basis. Thus spiritual masters like His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada continue to rescue fallen souls to this day, with their influence only growing in the future, increasing their fame and glory all the more.

In Closing:

Rock band that you like so much,

From their music your life touched.

 

Wonderful for at concert to have front row seat,

Even better with backstage pass, members to meet.

 

When face to face they are seen,

Can tell them what to you they mean.

 

Use this tendency for devotee’s presence to get,

Icons of devotion, on pleasing Krishna their minds set.

 

From this meeting ideal example take away,

Follow instruction and in bhakti always stay.

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