Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hidden Deep Animosity

Shrila Prabhupada“Yoga practice, the process of purifying one's existential identity, is based mainly on self-control. Without self-control one cannot practice freedom from animosity. In the conditional state, every living being is envious of another living being, but in the liberated state there is an absence of animosity.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.14.46 Purport)

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Is it better to live with animosity or without? If the strong hostility is directed towards someone who is deserving of punishment, then perhaps the emotion is warranted. Certainly it is not beneficial to feel animosity towards man as a whole. The majority of the people of this world have done nothing to us, so why should our decision be cast in either direction, considering them friend or foe? With real yoga practice, animosity is eliminated, something that is beneficial.

Real meditational yoga practice brings about tremendous abilities. In Sanskrit the rewards of yoga are called siddhis, which means “perfections.” You can do amazing things as a yoga-siddha. You can become lighter than air. You can become very heavy in a matter of seconds. You can travel anywhere using just your soul. You can course through air, feeling freer than a bird.

These successes hinge upon control of the senses. Sort of like the mother who miraculously lifts a car when her child is in danger, the living entity is capable of amazing things. We’ve often heard people describe an amazing accomplishment in their life by saying, “I don’t know how I was able to do that.” For whatever reason, they were able to stretch their abilities past whatever limits they thought existed.

The perfections of yoga show exactly what the real limits are. Since the siddhis can only arrive after strict control of the senses, naturally there are many extra benefits that come along. If you control your senses, you are in good health. You are not overweight. You don’t have difficulty breathing. The life breath, prana, is controlled in one of the methods of yoga. Therefore a yogi can extend their duration of life.

Personal flying vehicleTo the person who is truly knowledgeable, the siddhis of yoga aren’t very important. Bhakti-yoga is more important because it provides a reward of far greater significance than the ability to fly or the ability to read minds. Think about it for a moment. If today you were given the ability to fly to wherever you wanted, what would it mean to you? Surely it would be pretty neat to just go wherever you want. Then soon after people would expect things from you. “Hey, can you go here? Hey, can you go there for me? It shouldn’t be a problem since you can fly to wherever you want.”

The enhanced ability brings added pressures as well. Duality is the nature of the temporary world, where spirit souls who are eternal in their constitution remain in bodies that constantly change. The final transformation occurs at death, where the old body is replaced for a new one. In bhakti-yoga, the reward is something that is beyond duality. The reward is love for God. Since bhakti-yoga is the highest form of yoga, the same benefits of meditational yoga arrive very easily.

“Subsisting on fruits and milk, chant Shri Rama’s holy name for six months. Tulsidas says that by following this formula all auspiciousness and every perfection will arrive in the palm of your hand.” (Dohavali, 5)

Just as in meditational yoga, in bhakti self-control is very important. And from that self-control, one is able to steer clear of animosity. If you go the other route, you have no choice but to have animosity. If you are raising a child and you always give them what they want, how will they learn to deal with adversity? None of us is God. This means that we can’t always get what we want, even if someone else is providing things to us on a constant basis. That moment that we have to do without, we will feel hostility towards those who do have. Intense envy of the wealthy is due precisely to a lack of self-control. Thinking that others who do have something are so much better off, the person lacking self-control feels intense hostility over something that isn’t very important in the grand scheme.

Prahlada MaharajaPrahlada Maharaja was a famous bhakti-yogi. He had self-control through just chanting the holy names of the Lord. He only thought of his beloved Vishnu, which is one name for the personal aspect of God. Prahlada’s father was not as self-controlled. Previously he had been austere for a while, but that was for a specific purpose. He wanted to catch the attention of higher authorities so that they would give him rewards. Once his purpose was fulfilled, he went back to being uncontrolled in his sense urges.

Therefore he felt animosity towards Prahlada when the boy started worshiping God. The father tortured the son in so many ways, and when the father was finally killed by God Himself, Prahlada still lamented. He felt sorry for his father, though he deserved the ghastly slaying at the hands of Narasimhadeva. Prahlada showed the benefits of self-control, which are easily acquired through fixing the mind in devotion to God. That same self-control is available to anyone who regularly chants the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” and steers clear of meat-eating, intoxication, illicit sex and gambling. The positive and the negative go hand in hand, and a nice side benefit is lack of animosity, which means more time for felicitous celebration of the person most worthy of it.

In Closing:

When control of senses to lack,

Hidden animosity to attack.


At others’ possessions to stare,

That they have more so unfair.


In bhakti-yoga on sense demands put a latch,

No more at every itching to scratch.


Compassion then for all others in sight,

Like Prahlada towards demon father’s plight.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Rummaging Through Garbage

Lord Brahma on swan carrier“In the bird society, there are crows and swans, and crows are interested in places where filthy things are thrown. However, swans prefer nice clear water with lotus flowers, and it is in such places that they take their pleasure. Similarly, there are men who are like crows and men like swans. That is a natural division.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Teachings of Lord Kapila, Vs 12 Purport)

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“Have I heard the latest news? No, I haven’t. Lately I have had no taste for watching any televised news. I don’t even want to check the latest headlines on the internet. Why? I’ve finally picked up on the trend. The lead stories are always about something negative. ‘Teenagers murder innocent man at gas station.’ ‘Infant found in dumpster after mother dropped her there.’ ‘Politician such and such caught on tape making racist remarks.’ ‘Union X is on strike to lobby for better benefits.’

“Seeing these headlines every day, I started to wonder. What is it exactly that goes into making a newspaper? If I were in charge of the nightly newscast, how would I go about putting it together? Seeing the end result, and doing some reverse-engineering, I see that the way it is done now is to look for anything bad that happens. Did someone get killed through something other than natural causes? If so, that is a story. Did someone of prominence make a disparaging remark about someone else? That is news fit to print as well.

“But in taking a step back, we see that so many things happen each day. The murders are minuscule in number compared to the lives that are maintained in any given day. The number of people who take care of their children, tell the truth, hold doors open for others, smile as they pass by, and give in charity is far greater than the liars, cheats and scoundrels combined. And yet the good behavior is rarely reported on. It might make the later segments of the newscast. Those segments are commonly referred to as fluff pieces or light-hearted news, and no serious journalist makes a career doing them.

Online news stories“Why should the positive get ignored? Why should the negative be given more importance? The obvious answer is that the negative will attract more attention. A murder is more noteworthy than a life maintained. A plane crash is more of a spectacle than a plane landing safely. The news is a business after all, and so if the media outlets don’t get viewership or readership, how will they stay in business? If they focus on the positive, they won’t get much attention.

“And yet the level of attention shouldn’t determine which news is more important. News is discussed, after all. A famous person of royalty dies in a tragic car accident, and thousands come to her funeral. A common person loses their life in the same manner, and not nearly as much attention is given. This doesn’t make sense to me. Just because of attention, we have to focus on the negative? Why would I want to live my life this way?”

From the ancient Sanskrit texts of India we get the word “paramahamsa.” This translates to “supreme swan.” It is used to describe an enlightened being, someone who sees everything in the right context. The difference between the knowledgeable and the unintelligent is vision. The unintelligent steal from someone else for a short term gain, but they fail to see the hard work that went into acquiring that money. They fail to see how they would object if they were the victim of the same act.

The unintelligent, suffering from a lack of vision, are more prone to the crow’s behavior. The crow rummages through garbage. Perfectly nice food could be available nearby, but the crow would rather look through weeds and dried grass. The swan, meanwhile, takes only the good. It stays amidst lotus flowers on the calm pond. It cannot act like the crow because it has no interest to. If the supreme swan has to go through garbage it will look for anything good in it. It will pick out the jewels and discard the rubbish.

“How can that female swan who is accustomed to sporting with the king of swans amidst lotus flowers ever cast her eyes on a water-crow that stays amidst bunches of grass?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 56.20)

Lakshmi Devi amidst lotus flowersThe enlightened being sees God in everything. God is the Truth, the lone entity who is beyond duality and never subject to its influence. The thief acts in duality because they are on the side of injustice when behaving in the way that earns them their title. The same thief can then turn straight and thus flip in behavior. God is never in such duality. He is neither a thief nor a pious person. He is neither right nor wrong. That is why He is described as the “absolute” Truth. Everything about Him is pure goodness, or pure right.

The paramahamsa sees Him in everything, and so even the good news is noteworthy to them. The person who takes care of their child shows the loving nature of the Supreme Lord. The act of a mother carrying her young infant reminds the paramahamsa of how mother Yashoda tends to Shri Krishna in Vrindavana. Since God is the Supreme Father, it is difficult for others to serve Him with the urgent care that only a parent offers. Therefore in Vrindavana He accepts parents who are exalted beings looking to serve God through parental affection.

Mother Yashoda feeding KrishnaThe paramahamsa thinks that the safe landing of a flight is noteworthy because it shows the affection that living beings naturally have for one another. The pilot is responsible for so many innocent lives. The soul is naturally blissful, knowledgeable and eternal. The dharma of the soul is to serve, and so the real religion, which goes beyond sectarian designations, is service to God. As a byproduct of that dharma, man serves his fellow man as well. Each living being is a part and parcel of God, so showing affection for one another is only natural.

The paramahamsa finds goodness in everything, and so they are at the top end of the enlightened scale. To be knowledgeable should be a good thing. More knowledge shouldn’t mean more misery. Without God in the picture, however, consuming more and more news does indeed make one less happy. Reaching the human species through the evolutionary chain is the greatest punishment if one remains ignorant of God. The animals have it better than the non-devoted human since they don’t have to worry as much over what happens to others. They also aren’t wise enough to be consumed with fear over the future.

maha-mantraThe ability to accept higher knowledge targeted for the human species is indeed a benefit. The paramahamsa proves that. Thus in all cases it is better to live like a supreme swan than a lowly crow. The crows are converted to swans through bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, which though originating from the ancient Vedic texts is the constitutional occupation for all souls. The whole world can unite under the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” which is the sweet nectar of transcendence found even in a world of duality. In any situation this mantra can be chanted, thus showing that God’s presence is available for extraction by any person, at any time, and at any place.

In Closing:

Why paper to always give news bad?

My mind only then to be more sad.


To be less viewership understood,

If only focused on happenings good.


Situation still not of any sense to me,

Goodness in all situations rather to see.


Paramahamsa acts like swan supreme,

Divine influence from everything to glean.


In bhakti aspire to state of the swan.

Make days of crow long gone.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Not An Accident

The universe“If everything is directed by chance, why do people send their children to school? Why not let them grow up by chance? Suppose I break a law. If I say, ‘Well, it just happened by chance,’ will I be excused?” (Shrila Prabhupada, Life Comes From Life, Ch 9)

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Each spiritual tradition has their own explanation for the origin of the creation. Anytime the issue of origin comes up, the time factor must be considered. The beginning of something is the start, but since time is infinite in both directions, there is always a beginning before the beginning. Also, there is an end succeeding the end of something. For this reason spiritualists attribute the creation to God, who is infinite in His existence. Only His brain can grasp the endlessness of time and space. Our brains are limited by time, as the brain is a product of the temporary body.

In the Vedic tradition the infinite nature of time is accounted for in the explanation of the creation. It is said that the realm we live in constantly goes through cycles of manifestation and dissolution. Like the changing of seasons and the pendulum of night and day, the creation at large has the same cycles. In fact, the time between the origin and the end within one cycle is referred to as a day. This day belongs to a higher power, and so its measurement is a little different.

The day to us is the difference in time between two sunrises. The sunrise isn’t always at the same time, but we know that the earth’s year takes a certain amount of time. The day is a division of that year. The day to the human being is twenty four hours, whereas the day to the fly is much shorter. Some flies live for only one human day, so that is their lifetime. The lifetime divided into years and days for them makes the same measurements much smaller.

For the higher being, the one day is billions of human years. Then the night is the same period, and so the one year is beyond comprehension. And this is only for one cycle of creation, which falls into a larger cycle, applying to other planets and universes. The Vedic version resembles the Big Bang Theory, as everything emanates from a single source. Through an exhalation by a single being, all the planets manifest. Then there is a devastating fire at the end which destroys everything.

Solar systemIf one ignores the “being” responsible for all of this, they must attribute everything to randomness. Of course there is little randomness to the results of the explosion. The sun is as predictable as ever. It has burned since the beginning of known time and doesn’t seem to be slowing down in the least. The human being can’t create something like it, even in the size of a golf ball, so how would they ever understand it? The sun is just one aspect of nature, and there are so many others that operate with predictability and are impossible to recreate.

Let’s try applying the random collision theory to other aspects of life and see if the theory is given any credence. After all, the creation is just the result of the purported collision. The original being is ignored. A being means a spirit soul. Spirit animates matter. Matter by itself is dull and lifeless. Something that is lifeless is without spirit. The lifeless cannot create life. That is the whole point. If you think the opposite way and apply your thinking to any aspect of life outside of the topic of creation, you’re not taken very seriously.

“Hello officer, what seems to be the problem? Yes, I most certainly did go into that person’s home and take their television, microwave, jewelry and computer. However, it just happened randomly. You can’t blame me. I had no idea what I was doing. It was like a force that I couldn’t control. It was an accident. Umm, yes I did pick the lock. Yes, I can see how you think that requires intelligence, but I swear man, it was all an accident. It wasn’t who I really am. Just as the universe was created through a random collision of material elements, so too my entry into that person’s home occurred without intelligence.”

“Why are you praising me for the victory? You say that I played well under pressure, but there wasn’t any intelligence involved. It was all random. I won by accident. I don’t even remember what happened now. You say that I adjusted to the opponent’s style of play, but I don’t see it that way. Just as the universe with its many stars and planets and their various atmospheres that can be observed by scientific instruments came into being through an accidental collision of chemicals, so too my victory today was dumb luck.”

Chess board“Why are you angry at me for those harsh words I used against you? Words are merely sound vibrations. Your brain then processes those vibrations, looking them up against the database of known sounds. After that lookup, you deemed that those sounds were offensive. However, sound emanates from the body that was generated through random acts. There is no intelligence to this world; as it was created through a random collision of chemicals. If the sun, which we rely on for life to continue, came into being through randomness, how can you blame me for some sounds that came out of my mouth? It was an accident.”

Of course in none of these instances will the “it was an accident” mea culpa fly. The judicial system considers intent with various actions. Intent means intelligence, and since a puny living being who is powerless against the giant material nature can have intelligence, why should it be absent in the origin of the creation in which said puny person lives?

These basic truths the sober person can understand, and so the spiritual science recommends more than just acquiring esoteric knowledge. Spiritual life is a culture, and intelligence is a key part of it. There is also renunciation, which helps to clear the mind to think rationally, to question nonsense put forward by those who either deny the spiritual science or remain ignorant of it.

There is a benefit to knowing that an original being created everything. Just as we praise someone for doing something good, we can give credit to the creator of this universe. He acted with intelligence, and though we see so many bad things happen to us and to others, we should know that the results are concomitant with the granting of freedom. If there could only be positive results, then there is no such thing as freedom. Fate is then sealed; which means no way out. With freedom there has to be the opportunity for failure, which manifests in different miserable conditions.

Krishna in VrindavanaReal success is exit from the temporary land, reaching a place where no one is concerned with the origin of the creation. There only the original being is served constantly, affording endless opportunities for renewed happiness and pleasure. The knowledgeable go to that realm, since with their knowledge they choose not to have anything to do with creation and destruction, happiness and sadness, victory and defeat in a temporary realm designated for the challengers of God.

In Closing:

If to ignore God you choose,

Try accident explanation to use.


“Sorry, not my fault for what I did,

Though I knew my lock picking splendid.


Why in animosity against me you’re bent?

From randomness my harsh words to you went.”


Reject such nonsense would any man sane,

Man’s intelligence in creator resembling the same.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Live to Remember

Krishna and Balarama“One can very easily associate with Krishna simply by remembering His transcendental pastimes. Everyone has a tendency to love someone. That Krishna should be the object of love is the central point of Krishna consciousness. By constantly chanting the Hare Krishna mantra and remembering the transcendental pastimes of Krishna, one can be fully in Krishna consciousness and thus make his life sublime and fruitful.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 34)

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“Work hard all week and then on the weekend party so that you won’t remember anything.” Sound familiar? Such is the pattern when godlessness runs rampant. Indeed, without knowing about the Supreme Lord, His forms, names, features and pastimes, too much intelligence becomes a hindrance. Rather than make one superior, enlightenment only causes more sadness, depression over the lot in life. When knowing God, however, the condition turns around immediately.

What causes the sadness?

Consider all of the “why” questions when there is no understanding of God:

“Why can’t I get the association of my friend or family member back? Money is work. And since no amount of money can bring back the dearly departed, it means that no amount of work will allow me to always get what I want.”

“Why can’t I get that person to love me? What have I done wrong? Am I a bad person? Am I not attractive? It breaks my heart that they are with someone else right now. They should be with me. Life is not fair.”

“Why must we all die? Why do tragedies occur? This isn’t right. You work hard your whole life, play by the rules, and then something horrible happens to you. In fact, everyone dies. All that we work hard for eventually vanishes. Nothing remains forever. This thing that we call life is a sick and twisted game. It looks like it’s fun, but in fact it is not. It is destined for destruction. It’s like we’re all passengers on this giant Titanic-like ship. We’re all going to get thrown overboard eventually, but not necessarily at the same time. People are enjoying as if nothing is going to happen, but something will. I don’t understand all of this.”

Bottles of liquorFacing such frustration, what choice is there but to forget? Why stay wise to everything when forgetfulness helps to alleviate the pain for a little bit? Hence the popularity of intoxication in a godless consciousness. Instead of visiting the house of worship, the local nightclub or bar is the place to frequent. Instead of researching further into the meaning of life, instead of discussing topics to increase one’s intelligence, the choice is to forget. It is preferable to remain stupid, for this will alleviate some of the misery.

Indeed, without a true understanding of God, the human birth is far inferior to the animal birth. The animal also eats, sleeps, mates and defends. The animal does not know shame. It does not care what others think of it. There is no work that is beneath the animal. It will do whatever it takes to survive. It enjoys sex without discrimination. No need to worry about a long-term commitment. Marriage is out of the question. There are no mortgage payments or health insurance concerns and no fear of losing one’s livelihood. Sure, death can arrive at any moment, but that is true in the human species too.

The person in God consciousness lives to remember. They acknowledge the terminal diagnosis handed to every being that takes birth, but this is seen as a positive. With that birth there is the chance to remember. The person most worth remembering is the one who does not take birth or die. This person has all-attractive features that never exhaust. He is worth remembering both in the early stages of life and at the time of death.

Bhagavad-gita, 8.5“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)

By living to remember, the rest of the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. The misery of being unable to fulfill all desires is understood. The reason for death is understood as well. The negative conditions correspond with a lack of God consciousness. Without God there cannot be happiness. Without God there cannot be an existence, but there is a way to separate from Him in consciousness. Birth and death take place when the consciousness is separated, and so the person desperately seeking to forget actually confirms the need to have God’s association.

Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 19.151“There are millions of living entities who have become conditioned by the laws of material nature, and they are wandering throughout the planetary systems of this universe in different bodily forms. Among them, one who is fortunate meets a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna and comes to understand the meaning of devotional service.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 19.151)

Shrila PrabhupadaWhen such a person is truly fortunate, he meets a person who is God conscious. That person then gives as a gift the seed of the creeper of devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. Through the help of the Supreme Lord and His bona fide representative, the seed starts to grow. The resulting creeper is continually watered through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” Holding it all together is the remembrance of the Supreme Lord in His personal form, which is full of attractive features and activities. In the life of remembrance, even that which was previously miserable turns into something wonderful.

By being truly God conscious, one learns that every living being is eternal at their core. There is really no such thing as birth and death. It is merely an illusion, like the changing of clothes. I put on clothes this morning and I will later take them off. These are factual occurrences, but they give the illusion that somehow my identity is changing, while it isn’t. I am the same person today as I was yesterday. Continuing further, I will be the same individual in the next life, after death passes. Someone may not be able to get my association again, but that isn’t so important. The soul is meant to always keep God’s association, which is actually never lost. All other entities are not God; so losing or gaining their association isn’t so significant. If they are devoted to the same God, then their association is always present, for they remain alive in their teachings, example, and name.

Krishna and friends stealing butterWe see that to keep this perpetual presence, the relationship to God is necessary. Without it, there is only loss. Despite all the hard work to accumulate so many gains, everything will vanish eventually. Thus forgetfulness becomes a viable option; a way to remain blind to the misery. We would never consider ignorance to be superior to intelligence, but it is the case when there is no acknowledgment of God. And even that superiority is an illusion, a temporary way to escape misery. Reality is God, and so intelligence becomes significant when one associates with Him. Therefore those who practice bhakti-yoga should be known to be the most intelligent. They not only see everything properly, they know how to utilize everything to remain satisfied, without forgetting.

In Closing:

As everything changing, nothing set,

Work hard so later on to forget.


This path certainly not the most wise,

Better to see further with spiritual eyes.


Association of God is one most sought,

Blessed is guru who this creeper brought.


Water with chanting holy names constant,

Living to remember, God no longer distant.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

That Which Is Not

Arjuna with Krishna“You are the supreme primal objective; You are the best in all the universes; You are inexhaustible, and You are the oldest; You are the maintainer of religion, the eternal Personality of Godhead.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.18)

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Bhagavad-gita, 11.18“What have I been up to lately? I’ve picked up golf. I can’t get enough of it. I bought a new set of clubs and I go out to different courses all the time. Sure, it’s preferable to play with friends, but I don’t mind playing alone either. I get up early in the morning, head out to the course, and then spend a large portion of the day walking from hole to hole. I can’t imagine ever getting sick of this.”

Golf course“What have I been up to lately? I love this particular restaurant. It has the best pizza in town. I’ve noticed that whole wheat crust has a different effect on me after eating. I don’t feel as bloated. I get the same enjoyment from the other parts of the pizza, without so many of the negative side effects. This one place makes the best whole wheat pizza, exactly to my liking. I’ve been eating there all the time lately. I love it.”

“What have I been up to lately? Well, I’ve found this energy drink that I love. It doesn’t have too many calories, and it tastes great. I drink it after a workout. This is my new favorite drink. I know I told you I liked other such drinks in the past, but this is my preferred one right now. I know I shouldn’t drink it so often, as I’ve gotten sick of other drinks, but why not enjoy right now? Why should I restrict myself?”

Protein drinkThese are just three examples, but you can take pretty much anything in material life to see the same pattern. You dive into one thing, find it totally enjoyable, and then discard it later. The excuses are “boredom” or “lack of interest.” And yet at one time you didn’t find it boring. You were totally interested in it, so much so that others could call it an obsession.

In the Vedas this pattern of acceptance and rejection is described by the Sanskrit terms bhoga and tyaga. One minute we’re accepting something for enjoyment and the next we’re giving it up because the taste is gone. The Sanskrit term “maya” explains why the cycle repeats. Maya means an energy which specifically belongs to a powerful entity. There are different sides to maya, but in the discussion of acceptance and rejection it refers to “that which is not.”

Naturally, the next question is “what is the ‘that which is?’” If maya is illusion, what is reality? If I say to you that the reality is God, you might dismiss my opinion as blind sentiment coming from an established religion that has done so much harm to people. “Religion is opium for the masses, don’t you know? In the name of religion, so much killing has taken place over the years. Don’t follow blindly; just enjoy life and see what happens after death.”

Actually, a person’s religion is just their ultimate conclusion, their guiding philosophy. So even the sentiment that says to reject religion is a kind of religion. As everyone has their own ultimate conclusion, a philosophy which guides them, in order to follow there must be an assigning of authority. The Vedas are considered the ultimate authority by those who follow them, and one way to substantiate their claim is to study the difference between maya and reality.

The Vedas say that God is the truth. If you know of Him only as the truth, which is not maya, then He is called Brahman. If you know of Him as a separate spiritual entity who resides within each living being, then He is called Paramatma. If you know His full features, His personality which has accompanying names, forms and pastimes, then He is called Bhagavan. It is Bhagavan who is ultimately the source of maya. The energy which emanates from Him but does not directly represent Him is that which is not Brahman.

The constant rejection of interests and enjoyable items proves that the interaction is with maya. If you’ve found something that is not the truth, ultimately you will reject it. You can’t live a lie forever. You may for a long time, but eventually you’ll want something real. The drunkard can’t stay drunk forever. You can’t sit at home and sleep the day away. Eventually you have to do something real.

In the same way the consciousness must eventually find something tangible to hold on to. After all, the aforementioned attachments all relate to the consciousness. At the end of the day you need to be thinking about something. You could sit in a room and think all day, but since there is nothing tangible to think about you need to find separate interests. When the interests are in maya, they are eventually rejected.

When you find the truth, however, there is no need to ever reject Him. He allows for endless interaction, which requires only the consciousness. The interaction with Him in full is known as bhakti-yoga, which can translate to “God consciousness.” A core feature of bhakti-yoga is glorification of God. In attachment to maya, there is glorification of the individual or other individuals, all of whom are not God. Therefore eventually the pendulum must swing in the other direction.

Arjuna worshiping KrishnaIn bhakti-yoga, the glorification is of someone who is eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. The glorification does not have to end. There is no pendulum because the side of bhakti-yoga is real. It is everlasting, provided one’s motives are pure. In real God consciousness, there is no room for maya. The previous aspects of nature which were accepted and rejected through swinging on the pendulum of material existence turn spiritual due to being dovetailed with the glorification of God.

For instance, if there was an attachment to food previously, that same food can then be used for offering to God, for glorifying Him by satisfying Him in ways that are authorized. The offering of food is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita, which is the song of God sung by the Lord in His original form of Shri Krishna, who is all-attractive. If there was an attachment to music previously, the same can be used to sing wonderfully melodious songs glorifying Shri Krishna and His divine associates. One doesn’t even have to work hard to come up with lyrics to these songs. They can simply adjust the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” to fit the melody.

Prasadam offeringTo those unfamiliar with bhakti traditions, the practices seem very new age and hippy-like, but if there is sincerity in the desire to finally reach the truth in life, then the attachment for the various processes will only increase. Unlike the life in maya, the life in glorifying God never has to end. It does not have to be abandoned, since God exists forever. He remains with the soul into the next life as well, so one never has to give up glorifying Him. Since one doesn’t get sick of praising His attributes, it means that He is indeed not maya. He is real.

In Closing:

Sick of this thing you feel,

Means ultimately not real.


If in the end something to reject,

Presence of maya easy to detect.


Following bhakti on solid ground,

Situation turns completely around.


Inexhaustible features to dwell upon,

In glorifying God can go on and on.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Better Today

Calendar“The mahatmas (great souls) receive transcendental messages from the realized devotees and thus gradually develop devotional service in Krishna consciousness and become so absorbed in transcendental service that they no longer desire elevation to any of the material planets, nor do they even want to be transferred to any spiritual planet.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 8.15 Purport)

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“Elect me and I will make things better. I will do everything better. I will do everything smarter. What we’ve had the past four years hasn’t been good. Look at all the turmoil. Look at all the strife. Look at all the despair. We can’t continue down this road. How many of you are happy today? If you’re not, then you should give change a chance. Elect me, and things will most certainly be better in the future.”

Four years later…

“Things are still tough, but we’re making progress. It was a big mess when I assumed office, and I know right now the economic indicators seem to show that things are worse today than on the day I took office, but know that we’ve made a lot of progress. We just need more time. We’re going to get things right. Things will be better in the future. The oceans will stop to rise. Poverty will be gone. People will have good jobs. People will be able to afford the necessities of life. Just give it some time.”

Four years later…

“Just see all the promises the previous politician made. They didn’t come true, did they? They were lying to you the whole time. Their friends and donors made out well, but the rest of the citizens did not. They kept promising you a better future, but none of it panned out. Now we need a change. Elect me and I will solve all the problems. We will do things the right way. No more will we have to settle for mediocrity. We can soar to new heights.”

ElectionsThe winds of change sweep in, as each politician promises to make a better life for everyone. “Everything is to come in the future, whereas right now you must suffer in misery.” Even in supposedly religious circles, the promise for hope pertains to the afterlife. “Accept such and such as the Lord, and you will be saved. You will not have to suffer eternal damnation. You won’t have to constantly burn in the fire that is hell. Save yourself today for a better tomorrow.”

One discipline does promise a better today. It does require changes to behavior and a specific authority figure acknowledged as the leader, but one doesn’t have to wait until many years after to see the returns. The better life comes today, and since the conditions for that improvement can be replicated day after day, it means that a better tomorrow is automatically in store.

This discipline is bhakti-yoga. When it is explained, it is the scientific basis for worship of the higher power. Instead of blindly following this leader or that religious path, in bhakti-yoga one learns who they are while simultaneously getting a slight understanding of the higher power. If we’re in trouble we may pray to the Lord. “O God, how did I get in this mess? Help me out of this one, please.” If He comes through then our faith increases, but what if He doesn’t? Does not the person next to me deserve success in their ventures? Should they not be helped out of a jam? Especially in a realm where there is competition, there is no proper way for a higher power to reconcile the different desires and keep everyone happy.

In bhakti-yoga we learn that indeed the higher power has no direct interest in such affairs. The world we live in is considered miserable and temporary, duhkhalayam ashashvatam. The root cause of the misery is the separation from the Supreme Lord in His direct interest. He is the only all-attractive being, and so when He is not in the picture, defects arise. There are other attractive objects, but they are flawed to some degree. The beautiful woman is seen as the source of enjoyment one moment and the source of pain and suffering the next. The pizza pie fresh out of the oven satisfies the taste buds immediately and then causes indigestion later on. The victory in competition is glorious for the praise and attention it brings today, but it is then an albatross of pressure and expectation the next time around.

PizzaIn bhakti-yoga we learn that each of us is inherently linked to the higher power. We are not so much linked to the temporary achievements, successes, victories, defeats, and heartaches of this miserable world. We are not even related to the body, which we mistakenly identify with from the time of birth. Since we make all these mistakes, we are constantly in illusion, which is known as maya in Sanskrit. God is truth, or reality. He is the opposite of maya.

Without rekindling the eternal relationship with God as a person, the only option is to hope for a better future. Think about it. If I achieve a temporary gain today and I’m still left wanting, what is another temporary gain in the future going to do for me? And mind you, this only addresses the successful. What about those who are currently unsuccessful? They will constantly long for success, which then puts them in the previously mentioned category, which is always in misery.

In bhakti-yoga one connects with the real God today. Not a God who is an old man looking to punish others. Not a God who demands worship of Him. Not a God who only helps one group of people to the exclusion of others. This connection is with the all-attractive God, who is always loving. He is so loving that He stays with the individual wherever they go. He is the safety net, but only for those who wish to use it. He is the best friend of every living entity, the original proprietor and the supreme enjoyer.

Just describing Him in this way makes one so happy; provided they are not envious of Him. Enviousness of Him persists in a land that is separated from His interests. In the higher power’s permanent and original home there is no such envy. Every day one remains in His company, and since that association is guaranteed the next day, the future is always bright; a better today leading to a better tomorrow.

Maha-mantraA better today starts with the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” It continues with hearing about the higher power from the Vedic texts, the oldest works in history. The original works are in the Sanskrit language, which is the oldest language in existence. Oldest in this case does mean best, as the language is meant exclusively for describing and glorifying God. Describing in this way is known as kirtana, which always takes place when chanting the holy names.

It is the soul’s dharma, or essential characteristic, to have a better today. The desire to serve exists in everyone, and God is the ideal match for that service. Since the spiritual master, or guru, teaches one how to properly chant, hear, read and worship, service to Him is a way to further extend the greatness of the day. Best of all, since these activities are spiritual, they are the opposite in nature of matter. Instead of temporary and miserable, they are permanent and blissful. They can be repeated day after day, lifetime after lifetime, thus leading to the brightest future. It all starts with a better today, which is provided by the all-attractive Shri Krishna.

In Closing:

Politician better tomorrow to give,

No more in hopeless to live.


Then when the tomorrow does come,

Happiness still there is none.


Better today when finding God that is real,

Chant His names for His presence to feel.


Then same practice daily repeat,

For pleasure in future also to meet.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Govardhana Puja 2013

Govardhana Puja“According to the instruction of Lord Krishna, Nanda Maharaja and the cowherd men called in learned brahmanas and began to worship Govardhana Hill by chanting Vedic hymns and offering prasadam. The inhabitants of Vrindavana assembled together, decorated their cows and gave them grass. Keeping the cows in front, they began to circumambulate Govardhana Hill.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 24)

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“Why should we listen to you? Who are you anyway? Where is your authority? We’ve been doing it our way for years. No one has had any problem with it. Now you come and tell us to change. You want us to worship a neighboring hill instead. You think that this will be better for us, but in what way? You are new to this town, while the traditions we follow predate us. They have done good for our community for so long, so I don’t see why we should listen to you. Who has advised you in this direction? Who is your guru?”

Such questions were not posed to the son of Nanda Maharaja several thousand years ago in the sacred town of Vrindavana. The father himself didn’t raise much opposition. He was a little perplexed, for the residents of the town were preparing for the annual Indra-yajna, a sacrifice that had rewarded them plenty through the years. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, was the one making the request. Yet Nanda and the others listened to Him not because of His divine nature. Of this they were unaware, but since He was such a darling, in the most beautiful boyhood body, and since He always wished everyone well in His innocence, they took the chance and followed Him.

Lord KrishnaThe child is a friend to all. They barely know the concept of enemies. They are innocent, after all. Even if someone is mean to them, the most they might do is avoid that person’s association. They won’t harbor hatred or ill-will for long. At that stage in maturity their minds are incapable of housing these negative emotions. The desire for constant play makes sure that there is no room for extended animosity.

Others know that the child is friendly towards everyone. That is why with the exception of the most cold-hearted and selfish, everyone will take delight in the activities, speech, and desires of the child. If an adult should break into your home and roam about, you will most certainly take notice. You might call the police. You might take out that weapon that is tucked away in your clothes drawer in your bedroom. You will certainly not ignore the issue.

But if the intruder is a child, there isn’t as much worry. If the child belongs to a neighbor, you might even take delight in their behavior. “Oh look, they have snuck into our home. I wonder what they want. Perhaps they want to play with our son. Perhaps they are looking for food, for they really enjoyed what we served yesterday. How wonderful it is that they have cleverly found a way to enter our home without us noticing.”

Krishna bound by ropeSuch sentiments were regularly echoed in Vrindavana a long time ago. Vrindavana was a small farm community. Though it had tremendous wealth in the form of cows and their resulting milk products, the real treasure was the darling young child of mother Yashoda and her husband Nanda, who was the king of the community. This boy, who went by many endearing names, captivated the hearts and minds of the residents, who were all very pious. Their favorite name for Him was Krishna, which is a Sanskrit word that means all-attractive. He was also known as Shyamasundara, which means one who is very beautiful with a dark complexion, similar to that of a cloud that is about to pour down rain. He was known as Damodara as well, for one time His mother bound Him to a mortar by the belly as punishment for having broken a pot of butter.

Indeed, young Krishna loved butter. He was not picky as to the kind or the source. He didn’t want to purchase the butter, either. He would eat it at home straight out of the jar. He would also go to the homes of the neighbors and take it from their stocks. When the neighbors caught wind, they hid the pots up high in the pantry. Krishna would then conspire with His friends to break into these pantries and climb all the way up to reach the butter. Electricity was not required, as the jewels that mother Yashoda carefully decorated Krishna with supplied the lighting for the dark room.

Krishna and friends stealing butterSometimes Krishna would get caught stealing and then be taken in front of mother Yashoda, who was to hand out swift punishment. But then amazingly the same people lodging the complaints would lobby for clemency, for they couldn’t stay angry with the darling child. Since Krishna was the pleasure of the town, He was also known as Gokulananda. He was the moon of the sacred city, so He was also known as Vrindavanachandra.

Since He was so dear to everyone, when one year He asked for the annual Indra-yajna to be skipped in favor of worship of Govardhana Hill, the people listened. A yajna is a sacrifice, and not surprisingly a sacrifice is supposed to yield good things. Indra is the heavenly personality in charge of the rain, so when he is pleased with a sacrifice in his honor, he makes sure there is sufficient rain in the area. There is no other way to guarantee sufficient rainfall. Artificial methods can be employed to import water from other areas, but even then the nature is supplying the water.

If an adult had made the same request, the people might not have listened. After all, messing with the rainfall was risky business. Without rain there would be no crops or vegetation. How would the people survive? They knew that Krishna wished them well. He was a friend to all. There was something magical about Him too, which the people noticed. Therefore they listened to Him. They were mesmerized by His childhood innocence, and from their devotion they were protected from even a vengeful Indra, who was indeed upset that the sacrifice in his honor was skipped.

Krishna lifting Govardhana HillOn the occasion of Govardhana Puja we remember that friend to all, the darling of Vrindavana. Though He is the original and most powerful person, and thus much more potent than any other individual in a childhood body, that wonderful form He exhibits in Vrindavana is His original one. It shows that He is indeed a friend to the world and that from following Him all good things come.

In Closing:

More than just innocent mouse,

Is thief who enters the house.


When entrant a child of curiosity,

In dwellers absent is animosity.


Beautiful child the father Nanda to persuade,

Entire community His advice then obeyed.


Though of Indra’s wrath to be afraid,

Protected by God as child they stayed.