Sunday, August 19, 2012

Given For a Reason

Krishna and Arjuna“The Lord is the Supreme with all senses, and the servitor, who is part and parcel of the Lord, also has the same senses. Service to the Lord is the completely purified use of the senses, as described in the Bhagavad-gita. The Lord imparted instructions with full senses, and Arjuna received them with full senses, and thus there was a perfect exchange of sensible and logical understanding between the master and the disciple.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.3.20 Purport)

You’re really excited. You finally purchased this brand new piece of furniture that goes perfect with the décor of your living room. You go to the store, pick it up, and then rush home to put it together. The piece is a little complex, so there is assembly required. Not to fear, though, as there are instructions provided. You open up the manual to notice that the instructions are not in English. “Oh wait, let me turn to the other side. Here we go. Okay, now let me follow these instructions and I’ll be all set.”

When you’re finished, however, you have a few nuts and bolts left over. What could these be for? Why weren’t they utilized? Will the finished piece be sturdy enough without them? Ah, but there must be a problem because there would be no reason for extra nuts and bolts to be packaged. They must be there to be used. Thus something went awry during the construction, and though you may not notice the mistake right away, eventually some damage might occur. The problem is that you don’t know when or how severe. If only you had used all of the pieces properly.

This scenario can be used to illustrate a matter of greater importance: namely what to do with our life. The various body parts and their accompanying senses were provided to us for a reason. We use the senses for interaction in every aspect of life already. For eating we use the tongue and the stomach. For watching movies we use the eyes and the ears. For relations with members of the opposite sex we use touch. In fact, just one of these senses diminishing in its capacity to function fully causes a major hindrance to life. Therefore we know that the senses are vital to our existence; they are provided to us for a reason.

The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, say that the point of human life is to know, understand, and then love God. There is no other purpose to the existence, in any species for that matter. The difference, though, is that the non-human species cannot make the vital inquiry, athato brahma-jijnasa, which is the opening to the Vedanta-sutra. “Now is the time for inquiring about Brahman, the Supreme Absolute Truth.” “Now that I have received the precious human form of body, which has the ability to sharpen intelligence and then act off of it, I must meet my true destiny: the spiritual sky.”

That realm is not a void. It is full of variety and nuance. The qualities are transcendental, however, so they don’t have the same inhibiting effect that the matter currently around us does. The matter of our present land is known as maya, or illusion, and it purposefully clouds our intelligence, making us forgetful of our inferior position with respect to the Supreme Soul, the person most of us refer to as God. The spiritual sky does not have the same maya; its energy is of a different nature. In the divine realm, the qualities help to further devotion to God, which is not a fixed pie. Just because you are devoted today doesn’t mean that you can’t be more devoted tomorrow. Just because you take pleasure from the Lord’s association today doesn’t mean that you can’t find more ways to serve Him tomorrow. The more you serve, the more pleasure you feel, and the reservoir for transcendental pleasure can never be filled.

In the material land, the situation is reversed. You try something once or twice and you get sick of it. Pizza today, pasta tomorrow. Beer tonight, wine tomorrow. Exercise this week, parked on the couch the next. All the while there is no progress made in terms of the disposition of the consciousness. The mind can be the best friend or the worst enemy. If you think about it, the pain you feel after being scorned by a paramour is only related to the mind. If you could just make yourself think that you’re not in a troubled state, that everything will work out in the future, you will be just fine.

Devotional service, which is also known as bhakti-yoga, trains the mind in this way, except there is no deception. The focus of attention is on chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and constantly hearing the sound vibrations that represent God. Through this method the mind learns to stay fixed in the transcendental realm, and thus there is automatic renunciation of negative thoughts pertaining to temporary outcomes. In addition, there is the excitement of knowing that there will be more opportunities to connect with God and serve Him.

Prabhupada thinking of Krishna and ArjunaThese techniques and more are learned from the qualified spiritual master. The real guru does not tell the disciple to give up using their senses. In fact, the transfer of information from teacher to student takes place through the use of all the senses, so what sense would it make to give up interaction once enlightenment is reached? If the guru, who is supposed to be enlightened, gave up using their senses, how would they teach anyone?

Not surprisingly, the best guru is God Himself, who reminded us of this fact one time on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. In His original form of Krishna, the Lord imparted the wisest words of instruction to a hesitant warrior named Arjuna. The transfer of information took place through the use of Krishna’s senses and also Arjuna’s. Krishna is known as the master of all senses, Hrishikesha, so this means that He has transcendental senses that He utilizes when necessary. Arjuna accepted that information with his ears and then used his entire body to act upon the wisdom he took in.

This same type of transfer occurs with all bona fide gurus and their students. The chanting of the holy names is the way to use the ears and the tongue, the worship of the deity the body, the offering and smelling of flowers the nose, and the viewing of the deity the eyes. Morning until night all the senses can be engaged in devotional service, ensuring that all the body parts required for assembly given to us at the time of birth get utilized in constructing the final piece of a perfectly God conscious soul that is ready to return to the spiritual land, the original home.

In Closing:

Finished piece picture on box should resemble,

Must follow instructions for item to assemble.

 

Problem when at end some pieces remain unused,

All seems okay, but then why pieces in box include?

 

Problem to occur eventually, maybe not today,

All pieces vital in construction’s proper way.

 

Know that all senses for utilization meant,

As human to God’s world make the ascent.

 

Guru with his disciples uses senses to interact,

With all your senses bhakti-yoga practice enact.

www.krishnasmercy.org