Saturday, July 19, 2014

Not a Finite Pie

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Let there be all victory for the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krishna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing fire of material existence. That chanting is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life and soul of all education. The chanting of the holy name of Krishna expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.12)

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[Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.12]If I have one hundred dollars, there is only so much I can do with it. Once the money is spent, it is gone. The only way to purchase the same items is to again come into possession of the same amount of money. Such are the ways of the material world; there is a limit to everything. Not everyone can be satisfied, and so on the other side of happiness is sadness. The space in the realm of transcendental bliss is not limited, however. It can expand to an infinite size. In our present circumstances this expansion takes place through the chanting of the holy names of Krishna.

Imagine this situation. You come home from a hard day at work. You are both exhausted and starving. When you put the keys to the house and the car in the drawer in the kitchen, which is your usual spot, you notice a cheesecake sitting on the table. It is a full cake. It looks like it just got delivered. It is still cold, so someone must have either left it out or brought it inside from wherever it came. You decide to have a slice. You’re not authorized to eat it; someone could have brought it home for another reason. But you’re so hungry and it looks so tempting. You decide that you’re going to dig in.

[cheesecake]Before you know it, the entire cheesecake has found its way into your belly. Your wife comes home and sees the evidence of your crime still smeared a little on your face. She loses it. She starts yelling at you, telling you that the cheesecake was supposed to be for the company that was coming over the next night. Now she had nothing to offer them. The entire pie is gone.

Indeed, even in commerce in modern times there are only a certain number of jobs available at a time. There is competition for a position, and only one person wins. One person finds happiness, which then automatically causes another’s sadness.

Spiritual life is inherently different. For starters, it applies to every single living creature. It is available for them to live in. It is like an apartment complex with an unlimited number of vacancies. Try to consider all the life forms that you encounter on a daily basis. Then take that number and multiply it by the number of human beings you know to be roaming the planet. They too witness so many forms of life. Spiritual life is available for each one of these beings.

[Jagannatha]And that life is blissful. It must be. If it is not, then it is lacking the spiritual touch. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that the ocean of transcendental bliss expands through the chanting of the holy names. One person finds spiritual life through repeating the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They always think of the beloved Gopala, the protector of the cows, who is all-attractive and thus aptly named Krishna. They think of His merciful form of Jagannatha, who is the Lord of the universe, and who enjoys so many food preparations in his home in Puri, which is also known as Purushottama-kshetra.

But this is bliss for only one person. This individual has surpassed the neophyte understanding which only knows of a supreme controller referred to by a vague term such as “God.” This person has moved along from the understanding of the impersonal Brahman, which due to its lack of perceptible features is very difficult to understand for one who is embodied.

[Bhagavad-gita, 12.5]“For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.5)

The soul in transcendental bliss derives their happiness from knowing that God is Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Having found this highest knowledge doesn’t mean that others are restricted from it. This is no race to first; it is simply a personal victory. And from that lofty achievement, the liberated soul does not hog the glory for themselves. They open the floodgates for the ocean of transcendental bliss to flow.

[Lord Chaitanya]And how do they do this? Through the very chanting of the holy names. This was Lord Chaitanya’s mission. He is the greatest lord, Mahaprabhu, and He is the most munificent of all incarnations of Godhead, maha-vadanyaya. He easily gives prema, or love, for Krishna. He does this through the chanting of the holy names. He does this through empowering His closest associates to do the same. And in the process the ocean of bliss expands, and more and more souls find the happiness that otherwise eludes them.

In Closing:

If accidentally to eat the whole pie,

To leave others hungry act of my.


In spiritual life not the case,

To first there is no race.


Chanting holy names in bliss abound,

Then to share with others what they’ve found.


Through same chanting of Krishna done,

So that left behind there to be none.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Not a Mechanical Process

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Let there be all victory for the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krishna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing fire of material existence. That chanting is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life and soul of all education. The chanting of the holy name of Krishna expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.12)

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[Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.12]If you’re having trouble breathing, there’s medicine you can take. Your issue may be caused by one or several factors. Perhaps it is too hot in the region in which you presently reside. Perhaps you’ve consumed too many saturated fats in recent days, thus making it difficult for your blood to flow through your body. Perhaps you’re under a lot of stress. Whatever the issue, there is a mechanism to fix the problem, a cure for the specific issue. According to Lord Chaitanya, the cure for the problem of the dirty heart is the chanting of the holy names of Krishna. Though externally identifiable as a mechanical process, similar to a medicine prescribed for a specific ailment, the work and the subsequent transformation are actually completely natural. The chanting becomes spontaneous, bringing one to life, no matter their previous situation.

[Lord Chaitanya]How do we know that it can be spontaneous? Lord Chaitanya compares the change to the white lotus, the kairava flower, sprouting open at the sight of the waxing moon. The ordinary lotus flower bursts open at the sight of the sun. This reaction is referenced countless times in Vedic literature, especially in those works of bhakti, or devotional service. Devotion appears mechanical in the beginning, like a forced remedy to cure a contaminated consciousness. But in fact bhakti is the constitutional engagement; it is as natural to us as breathing.

In fact, it is more natural than that, as our present body doesn’t represent our eternal form. The spirit soul survives past the present existence. It was somewhere long before we took birth from the womb of our current mother. It will continue to live on; and so it has an accompanying form. The nature and activity of that form are what remain the same. That eternal form is servant of Krishna, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The waxing moon that is the chanting of the holy name awakens the white lotus that is the individual, who is presently in a dormant state. That sleeping individual looks for life through so many other things. Material sounds, sumptuous food dishes, attachment to friends and family - all such things the white lotus thinks will help. You can try to pry the white lotus open using force, but it will not remain in that position without extra support. More importantly, the lotus will not be strong; it will not be vibrant.

The holy name of Krishna brings the white lotus to life, and in that life the lotus shines in all its glory. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, an authority on devotional service following in the line of Lord Chaitanya, says that one who has got life can spread the glories of the Supreme Lord. This means that only the white lotus opened through the chanting of the holy names can give off the beautiful aura to others.

[Lord Krishna]The person who chants the name of Krishna is automatically beautiful. In the Vedas it is said that the woman is never as beautiful as when she is with her husband. She is also very beautiful when pregnant. We may disagree with these statements, but in fact in further study we see that the woman is fully devoted in both these instances. When she is able to offer service in love, then she is the most beautiful. Thus a person always looks their best when chanting the holy name of Krishna, which is the way to show true love, bhakti.

The beauty of the sound emanates from such a person as well. It is no wonder, then, that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asks that their be all victory to this chanting. The chanting cures all problems. It transcends all political boundaries. One party wants something, and the opposition wants something else. But isn’t eternal happiness better than temporary pleasures? Isn’t a final victory far superior to a temporary one? In a material existence, no achievement is ever fixed. You win a trophy this year, but then next year you must defend it or be dethroned by someone else. You get married today, but tomorrow your spouse is behaving in such a way that you wish you hadn’t married them.

When you take up devotion, the achievement is permanent. You only want to chant more and more. In fact, you wonder why you don’t chant all the time. You wonder why God only gave you limited ability with your hands and legs, for if you had more limbs then you could do your ordinary work faster, leaving more time for devotion.

[Lord Chaitanya]Lord Chaitanya doesn’t just hopelessly pray for the glory of the chanting of the holy names. He puts the process into place. He inspires others with His life. He leaves only eight important teachings, known as the Shikshashtakam. These words are the life and soul of those who have taken up devotion to Krishna. They are nectar pouring down from the spiritual world. They give access to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is non-different from Krishna. Furthermore, these instructions inspire the white lily-like devotees to spread their radiance, beautifying the otherwise dark and miserable material existence.

In Closing:

All glory to the chanting let there be,

The radiance of devotion let others see.


Like white-lily opening up in the night,

Upon the waxing moon’s first sight.


So too with chanting of Krishna name clears,

That mind which in ignorance too many years.


Chaitanya Mahaprabhu this process gave,

Through His mercy whole world to be saved.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Room For Another Friend

[rasa dance]“Krishna's rasa dance should never be compared with any kind of material dance, such as a ball dance or a society dance. The rasa dance is a completely spiritual performance. In order to establish this fact, Krishna, the supreme mystic, expanded Himself in many forms and stood beside each gopi.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 32)

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Question: I read about the many great devotees who are constantly engaged in serving Krishna. They love Him so much. They sometimes abandon family and friends even. They are fully surrendered, and so it is no wonder that Krishna is so affectionate towards them. With all these friends, why would Krishna want my service? What need does He have for my bhakti-yoga? I think that my work would only bother Him more.

Nothing can compete with the Vedic tradition in terms of describing the Absolute realm. For the relative world, there seems to be no shortage of information available. A season of a famous sports franchise gets documented in many different ways. There are historians who study the lives of the various leaders of a nation. The daily feeds from the news and social media sites give a plethora of information on what is widely acknowledged to be the mundane.

[twitter news feed]There is too much news to consume, in fact, but one would be surprised to learn that news of the Absolute is far greater in volume. Indeed, the relative has come from the Absolute, and there is no way to properly measure the size and scope of all things relating to the Absolute. The term adhokshaja is thus often used to describe the source of the Absolute realm.

[Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.19]“Being beyond the range of limited sense perception [adhokshaja], You are the eternally irreproachable factor covered by the curtain of deluding energy. You are invisible to the foolish observer, exactly as an actor dressed as a player is not recognized.” (Queen Kunti speaking to Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.19)

[Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura]A very important teacher in the line of disciplic succession devoted to the source of all things once had a daily newspaper running in a certain portion of India. One person once asked this teacher how he could find enough content on religious matters to fill a daily newspaper. The teacher, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, replied that such news came from the spiritual planets, which are too many in number to count. The universe we presently inhabit is tiny in comparison, and so the news from the spiritual world could fill thousands of newspapers every day.

Within the literature of the Vedic tradition we find the detail behind the abstract concept of a God. Even a person who has never touched a religious book or visited a house of worship can understand that there is a higher controller. But without authorized information, the mind is left to speculate. Even religious works might only touch on the commandments of God, His rules and regulations, and not give detail into His exact nature.

The Vedic literature, especially those works focusing on bhakti-yoga, reveals to us that ultimately God is a personality. He is a distinct individual, though He can expand Himself. He has an original form, which is eternal, knowledgeable and blissful. As that form is all-attractive, the Sanskrit word “Krishna” is appropriate for addressing it. That original form takes to activities, and with each action taken another name becomes appropriate. The name “Govinda” is authorized, since Krishna gives pleasure to the cows and the senses. Gopala is appropriate also because Govinda takes care of the cows and the calves in the spiritual land of Vrindavana. Vishnu also works, since Krishna expands Himself into a four-armed form, which then manages the entire creation, generating planets through exhaling and destroying the same through inhaling. Rama is appropriate as well, since Krishna expands into Balarama, the servitor God, and also Ramachandra, the warrior prince incarnation who appears as the son of King Dasharatha in Ayodhya.

[Radha and Krishna]As Krishna has an eternal body, home and pastimes, He has associates who are eternal as well. He is already atmarama, which means “satisfied in the self.” He does not need anyone to give Him pleasure. And yet He has Shrimati Radharani, His pleasure energy, always serving Him, making every moment of existence delightful for Him. He has the gopis, the cowherd women who live in Vrindavana. They serve Radharani, since they love her so much. Then there are the acharyas, those who accept the thankless task of leaving the spiritual realm in order to teach the gospel of bhakti-yoga to the fallen souls, who have forgotten their original position as servant of God.

Krishna has so many servants. He is always happy. The “angry God” model does not apply to Him. His ministers sometimes get angry. Falling victim to jealousy, they sometimes show their wrath when they feel slighted. The material nature is by default neutral. We may think that the sun is punishing us on a certain day with its heat, but actually there is no favoritism there. We choose to act in a certain way and thus reap the consequences, either good or bad. It is not Krishna’s fault when we get a bad reaction.

As Krishna is so happy, one may ask why He needs our service. Why would He want to reclaim us when He has so many people already serving Him? There are different ways to answer this question. If one feels small in their ability to approach Krishna, they can offer service to one of His servants. This is actually the recommended method. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krishna Himself in the humble guise of a preacher, prays to always be the servant of the servant of the servant of Shri Krishna. He never asks to be the direct servant of the Lord.

[Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 13.80]“I am not a brahmana, I am not a kshatriya, I am not a vaishya or a shudra. Nor am I a brahmachari, a householder, a vanaprastha or a sannyasi. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Shri Krishna, the maintainer of the gopis. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 13.80)

[Radha and Krishna with gopis]But even if we elevate to the point of serving Krishna directly, there is more than enough room. We can take the example of the rasa dance, which occurred between Krishna and the gopis of Vrindavana. There were many gopis, but only one Krishna. He solved the supposed problem by expanding Himself. This allowed each gopi to have a direct interaction with the Lord. And so Krishna does the same for us through the deity expansion, which can reside in every home in the world and receive worship simultaneously. Even more merciful than the deity is the sound of the holy name, which can be chanted by anyone. The name “Krishna” is Krishna Himself. One who knows this hangs on to the maha-mantra as their saving grace: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

“Served by gopis, friends and acharyas too,

So what Krishna with my service will do?


Better not bothering Him to hear,

Can focus on those who to Him dear.”


Example from dance with gopis take,

Unlimited expansions Krishna can make.


To servant of servant service also can give,

So no question of without bhakti to live.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Demystifying Reincarnation

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)

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[Bhagavad-gita, 4.5]Question: I understand that supposedly I’ve lived many times in the past. This makes sense to me, as I feel certain things that I know are not from this lifetime. But wouldn’t it be great if we could remember those past lives? Why can’t we? Why doesn’t Krishna allow us to?

In standard conversation, we take reincarnation to be the concept of living before. You know, I was a carpenter, a doctor, or a king in a past life, maybe. I see someone that I match up with very well in this life and then wonder if we have met in a previous existence. Perhaps I was of a different race, living hundreds of years ago, in my past life. The Bhagavad-gita gives the definition to reincarnation, which is actually not so complex. What we call reincarnation is simply the changing of bodies.

[Bhagavad-gita, 2.13]“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)

From this definition, we see that reincarnation takes place all the time. From the moment I began writing this until right now, there has been reincarnation. It seems silly to say this, but in the critical analysis it is hard to deny. Take a picture of yourself today and then look at it tomorrow. Maybe you won’t notice much of a difference. Now wait a week, a month, or even a year. Then you’ll definitely see a difference. You’ll think the person in the image is someone different. “Was that really me? What was I thinking with that hairstyle? I looked so much younger back then.” The image is nothing more than a snapshot in time. Who we are today is who we will see in a picture a year from today. The only difference is the covering; our identity remains the same. This is reincarnation.

Now we see why we can’t remember past lives. Yesterday is a sort of past life. So is our childhood. We can’t remember everything from that time. We don’t remember exactly where we were twenty-five years ago from today at 9 am. If somehow we can, we don’t remember everything that we witnessed. We don’t remember all of our thoughts. We have trouble remembering what we ate for breakfast yesterday morning, so how is it possible to remember a previous life?

The Bhagavad-gita is the summary of Vedic philosophy, which is also known as Vedanta. As a Sanskrit word, Vedanta means “the end of knowledge.” It is the conclusion to all hypotheses. You solve one question only to have another one emerge. You keep getting answers until you reach the end, which is Vedanta. The Bhagavad-gita gives the full description, as there is a source to even the knowledge known as Vedanta. That source is Shri Krishna, from whom emanate the material and spiritual worlds.

[Bhagavad-gita, 10.8]“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 10.8)

The presentation of the Bhagavad-gita is a conversation between Krishna and His dear friend and cousin Arjuna. This factual conversation is also symbolic of many important truths of Vedic philosophy. The only way to get a real understanding of things is to approach a spiritual master in humble submission. Also, the hearing process is the most effective. Arguing with your friend will not do it. An argument such as that never has a winner, for who will want to admit defeat? Even if I am defeated, why will I want to accept the information that was used to defeat me?

[Krishna and Arjuna]Arjuna, though Krishna’s friend, takes on the role of the disciple in his interaction with Krishna. Arjuna shows bewilderment at a predicament facing him: a potential fratricidal war. Krishna is the spiritual master who helps clear up Arjuna’s doubts. At one point Krishna tells Arjuna that the philosophy being offered to him was actually told to the sun-god at the beginning of the creation. Arjuna then wonders how Krishna could have been around back then, for presently they were contemporaries. Krishna then tells Arjuna that both of them had appeared many times on earth previously. This is the proof of reincarnation. Krishna also says that He can remember those previous births, while Arjuna cannot.

Arjuna, the glorified disciple, the chosen recipient of the famous Bhagavad-gita, cannot remember his previous births. If he cannot, then why should we expect to? Indeed, such knowledge is impossible to gain due to the nature of the living entity. Krishna, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the detail behind the abstract concept of a God, is all-knowing. All others require knowledge. They need to seek out wisdom. One is the power and the other is the powerful. We are the energy, while Krishna is the energetic. As the energy, we are dependent on the energetic. If we could remember everything, including past lives, then we would be God, which we are not, nor can we ever be.

In the Bhagavad-gita, the stress is on the future. Where will we end up next? Never mind what happened previously; fix what is wrong right now. The issue at hand is forgetfulness of God, which is the cause of rebirth in the first place. Knowing Krishna through devotional service cures this illness, which puts a stop to reincarnation. That service is best practiced through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. We may not be able to remember past lives, but if we can remember Krishna through hearing His names on a regular basis, we will attain His abode, which is the best place to live.

In Closing:

Intuition of past lives I’ve got,

But remember them I cannot.


I’ve been here before it feels,

But how to be certain for real?


With study of Bhagavad-gita intensified,

Answers found, reincarnation demystified.


Even in this life through changing body to go,

Memory lacking, only God everything to know.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Umbrella Solution

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)

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[Bhagavad-gita, 4.9]At some point during the journey through life, the sober human being looks for a higher purpose. “What am I doing here? Is my existence worth anything? I want to make a meaningful impact on society. I want to make a difference.” Unfortunately, a difference doesn’t necessarily mean a positive result. Despots and cruel dictators of the past have certainly made a difference. They made an impact on their society, instilling fear and dread in the hearts of the innocent. To make a positive difference is the desired objective, and so it would make sense to tackle a problem that everyone faces. The Bhagavad-gita jumps right to that problem, and the solution offered is quite straightforward.

Some people are poor. They don’t have enough money. They don’t have a car, a mobile telephone, a television set, or enough funds to take a vacation. They squeeze by on the modest income they have. They have no peace since they don’t know if they will make ends meet going forward. I can try a myriad of solutions to help them, and even if I’m successful, there are still others with problems. The rich are also suffering, though I may not see it. Though they have a fancy car and a luxurious house, it doesn’t mean that they don’t hanker. It doesn’t mean that they are free of lamentation. Whether a poor person laments or a rich person, the pain from that lamentation is the same. Therefore my drive to end poverty doesn’t solve all the problems of the world.

Some people are diseased. They get hit by a terrible illness, one that might have affected someone in my family as well. Therefore I take to promoting awareness for this disease. I educate others about the number of people affected each year and what steps can be taken for prevention. Again, this issue is not all-encompassing. Not everyone will have the disease I am focused on. Moreover, others suffer from a different disease. They too know of a loved one who died from that illness; so they think their disease of focus is more important. There is no way to reconcile the difference, since each person is entitled to their opinion.

The ecology of the earth is being harmed. Drilling for oil, dumping out toxic waste, factory smoke and automobile emissions in the air - these are not good things. I thus take it as my duty to fix the environment. I will educate others on how to live a simple life, how to conserve. In the present age of heightened fruitive activity through industrialization and increased avenues for sense gratification, it will be difficult to get anyone to listen to me with attention. The notable champions of such causes presently in the public eye don’t follow the recommendations they give; they are often the greatest polluters.

In the odd chance that I succeed in cleaning up the environment, there are still the aforementioned issues relating to poverty and disease. This is the defect with any cause; one solution will not solve all other problems. To make a real difference, it would make sense to look for the root cause to all problems. In the Bhagavad-gita, we learn that birth is that cause. From birth come old age, disease and death.

[Bhagavad-gita, 14.20]“When the embodied being is able to transcend these three modes, he can become free from birth, death, old age and their distresses and can enjoy nectar even in this life.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.20)

The soul is pure. It is transcendental to birth and death. Sort of how my identity is not determined by the uniform I wear, the soul does not come into existence at the time of birth. It is also not annihilated at the time of death. Upon birth a body composed of the three modes of material nature covers the soul. From that interaction with nature, all the problems of life follow. Even if there is repeated success, there is the impending death to consider. At death the cycle repeats, for birth is assured for one who dies.

[Bhagavad-gita, 2.27]“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, Bg. 2.27)

[the changing body]A subsequent birth is guaranteed for all who die, with one exception. One who knows the transcendental nature of the appearance and disappearance of the Supreme Lord does not take birth again. Confirmation of this knowledge’s presence comes from the consciousness at the time of death. One who thinks of the Supreme Lord, knowing that He never takes birth or dies, does not have to assume a material covering again. They instead get transported to the spiritual realm, where body and soul are identical. In that realm there is full variety in activity, and there are no problems to solve, as the play does not have to stop. Time exists in that realm, but it has no influence. It does not diminish the bliss of interaction with God.

Knowing the nature of God and remembering it while quitting the body is the umbrella solution, so it would make sense to try to give this solution to as many as possible. Knowing God in full is very difficult, but the Bhagavad-gita provides help. One should have attachment to God in His original, personal form of Krishna and take up devotion to Him. In that devotion they will know Him in full, free from doubt.

[Bhagavad-gita, 7.1]“Now hear, O son of Pritha [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 7.1)

[Lord Krishna]To have attachment to Krishna one should know about Him. Therefore a good way to help others is to teach them about Krishna. There is so much to explain as well, as God’s glories are limitless. Someone may not want to hear philosophy or the praise of a supreme being. In that case they can simply hear the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The holy name is identical with the person Krishna, and with enough chanting and hearing one will learn the Lord’s true nature. Armed with that knowledge, they will finally put an end to birth, the cause of all problems.

In Closing:

Some with onset of disease to struggle,

Others with lack of funds to grapple.


Aid to them you’d like to give,

So that without problems they’ll live.


From one or the other must choose,

Thus one group to win, the other to lose.


When end of birth and death the solution,

Everything fixed, from sadness to pollution.


The nature of the Supreme Lord know,

Have attachment and towards Him go.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Giving The Best Cure

[Lord Krishna as baby]“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)

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[Bhagavad-gita, 4.9]Vedic literature is unimaginably voluminous, with the works devoted to bhakti being in noticeable abundance. Bhakti is devotion, and so you can find many lifetimes’ worth of books, poems, songs, dramas, and commentaries to sift through. The authors, languages and specific subject matters may vary, but the philosophy is always the same: devotion. Love of God is the height of an existence, and through these works the saints of the bhakti tradition try to get that point across, being as emphatic as possible. The question may arise as to why so much literature is necessary. The answer comes in knowing the nature of the cure that devotion offers.

Let’s run through some common problems that plague us and some of the corresponding solutions. Then we’ll study the behavior subsequent to finding such solutions. In our first problem, we have thinning hair. Not like it was during childhood, suddenly in adulthood the hair on the head starts to thin out. You don’t know what to do. Though it’s rude to comment on such things, others are now ceasing from holding back. They make remarks to you. It makes you feel so bad. You wish there was a way to fix the situation. You don’t even care about your appearance so much. You just want people to stop making comments.

[mustard oil]In reading articles online and talking to various friends, you try a host of solutions. One of them seems to make a difference: mustard oil. The plain old oil that they sell in the Indian stores applied to your head a few times a week has suddenly made a noticeable difference. You can’t believe your good fortune. You wonder why nobody else knows about this. Why is such a simple solution, which has the potential to work for a lot of people, not being employed by every single person? Why aren’t all young adults put on this therapy as a precautionary measure? In finding this solution, you are not shy in sharing it with others.

In another scenario you notice that you’re overweight. You’ve been this way for some time, but it took you a while to realize it. One day you were lean and trim, fit enough to play sports for hours at a time. You therefore ate whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. Then, due to other responsibilities, you stopped playing that sport so much. You didn’t change your eating habits in accordance; therefore your weight spiked. You think it’ll be easy to get back into shape, but you’re finding it particularly difficult. You can’t control what you eat.

So many solutions cross your mind from perusing the internet, but you end up starving yourself in all of them. Then a friend gives you a simple solution. He tells you to maintain your current food intake, but just divide up the portions throughout the day. You give this a shot, and what you notice is that you are slowly able to start eating less. You feel a burn throughout your body, and with a couple of other tweaks like exercise and not going out to eat so much, you end up losing a lot of weight. But it all started with controlling the portion size for your meals. You decide that you can’t keep this to yourself; you have to inform everyone you know who is struggling with weight gain.

In another scenario you’re having trouble studying. You have trouble getting out of bed each morning, since you know you will have a lot of work ahead of you. You do so many other things in the morning first, and by the time you’re finished you have no energy left to study. Then a friend gives you some advice. She says to study first thing in the morning. Get it out of the way; leisure time later on will be your reward. You give it a shot, and what ends up happening is that you gather so much momentum from the start of the day that you’re able to study for a long time. You keep away distractions. In this way, with a simple tweak you completely changed your productivity. Now you want to share this solution with so many others who are grappling with procrastination.

In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna states that one who knows the transcendental nature of His appearance and disappearance does not take birth again. The last part references the travels of the soul, wherein there is another birth after death. This concept shouldn’t be that difficult to understand. Birth and death are merely arbitrary demarcations based on the shifting of the external covering. It’s sort of like the division between night and day or the days on the calendar. Nothing has really changed; merely the passage of time. Yet we use these divisions to better organize our journey through life. They help in studying history as well.

So if we’re going to share information on how to solve thinning hair or weight gain or difficulty in studying, why wouldn’t we share information that will stop birth? Isn’t that more important than anything else? Birth is the cause of all the problems we see now. There must be death following a birth, which means that there must be disease. Disease is what leads to death. Even in the case of an accident, there is the unfortunate occurrence, which can be considered a defect in conduct, which is sort of like a disease.

Knowing of the nature of Krishna’s appearance and disappearance cures birth, which thus stops death. Therefore the saints of the bhakti tradition try to describe Krishna to as many people as possible. As Krishna is God, the detail behind the abstract, there is no end to His glories. This means that one will never finish in describing Him. This is a good problem to have, as it brings activity to the state of liberation. Not that the end of birth means the end of activity; devotional service is always vibrant. One who has got life can participate in bhakti, whose most pleasurable activity is contemplating and describing the glories of the beloved.

[Krishna childhood pastimes]Krishna can only be known through the instruction of these saints, who kindly keep the line of disciplic succession going by passing on information about the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That information says that Krishna’s appearance and disappearance are not like ours. He never takes birth, in fact. He never dies, either. His body and soul are identical. His form is eternal, blissful and knowledgeable. He is the cause of all causes, the original person, the oldest living entity, and non-different from His energies. Those appearances and disappearances feature a multitude of activities, which further enlighten the otherwise bewildered soul into the true nature of Krishna. Knowing His nature means the end of birth, which is the cure worth giving to any and all.

In Closing:

Problem lately tackling the mind,

Happy when the solution to find.


With others then to share,

Since of their welfare to care.


Cause of all problems is birth,

Death, disease caused by this first.


No rebirth when Krishna’s nature knowing,

Transcendental are His comings and goings.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The One With All The Best Things

[Krishna's lotus feet]“A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires - that enter like rivers into the ocean which is ever being filled but is always still - can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.70)

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[Bhagavad-gita, 2.70]What we consider to be ordinary desire is known as kama in Sanskrit. Kama also covers lust, which we most often mistake for love. Bhakti is the real definition of love, and it can only be directed at the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One way to tell the difference between the two is that kama leaves one always unsatisfied; true happiness remains elusive. Bhakti, on the other hand, keeps one always blissful. When under the sway of kama, one continues to act, looking for that elusive happiness. The same continuation is there in bhakti, but actually the happiness only continues to increase.

One way to see the effect of kama is to study what happens when material objects come into our possession. That one thing that we want, that thing we’ve kept our eye on for the longest time - when we finally get it does it really make us happy? In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that these desires continue to flow in, like a rushing river, and that one cannot find peace by striving to constantly satisfy such desires. Marjorie was explaining this to her friend one day, using some experiences from her own life.

When my husband and I first got married, we lived in a very small apartment. It was all we could afford. Pretty soon, I had my first son, and so we were a real family living in that tiny place. We regularly entertained guests, which included our friends and family. We were at peace, but I didn’t like that our place was so small. Our friends had homes that were much larger. My husband and I agreed that we needed to get a house as soon as possible, a place we could call our own.

[a house]After a few years, we finally got it. We had looked around for a while, but we settled on a house that fit our needs. It was in the right neighborhood, had many rooms, and had a nice amount of space in the backyard. When we first moved in we thought we would be happy. But then we had to fill up all this space. It took forever to find the right sofa to go in the living room. Then the dining room set had to be to my liking. I also didn’t like the countertops in the kitchen. I hired someone to come in and replace them.

When I had my second son, we decided to upgrade our cars. We couldn’t fit everyone in a compact anymore, since we also liked to go on vacations now and then. So we bought a minivan, but of course we got a high end one. We weren’t going to settle for second best. At the same time, with the children running around the house, things started to break. My eldest one day located our very expensive china set and accidentally dropped one of the plates on the kitchen floor. It was like the sound of my heart breaking. The set was ruined. We would have to get another one.

Then my youngest one day started to draw on the walls using his crayons. That meant we had to repaint the room. We wanted a better paint; this way we could improve upon the room. But then the color of the room didn’t match with the others, which had a different paint. Pretty soon we were painting the whole house. All of our expensive objects and furniture had to be covered to protect them from damage.

And of course this lifestyle was not cheap. My husband had to take a job many miles away from home, since it paid more. This meant that I hardly saw him. We had all this expensive stuff, but I realized that we were not happy at all. There was no difference between this new life and the modest one we had in the apartment. We had the best of everything, but nothing made us happy.

Marjorie explained to her friend that it wasn’t until she read the Bhagavad-gita that she understood the source of her unhappiness. Such desires were known as material, as they related only to the outside of the soul, its covering. The body doesn’t matter so much, and in the human life the recommendation is to focus on austerity. With controlled senses one can better understand God, who is beyond this realm of duality.

[Bhagavad-gita, 18.54]“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)

[tulasi plant]Though she never considered herself to be Brahman realized, Marjorie explained to her friend that in the heightened state of self-realization, one no longer hankers or laments. In a state of peace they take up devotional service, which is known as bhakti-yoga. Bhakti is different from kama. Bhakti satisfies the soul, and it doesn’t require expensive items. It doesn’t require a temple even. She told her friend that famous saints of the past, big authorities on devotional service, sometimes lived under trees. All they had was a tiny basil plant known as tulasi, who is a goddess dear to the Supreme Lord. By chanting the holy names of God in front of her, they achieved full perfection.

Marjorie explained that since she had started to chant the holy names regularly, she had noticed her desires subsiding. Instead of wanting this thing and that, competing with her friends over who had the best stuff, she was only looking for more and more ways to serve God. In that mentality, she was much happier. She was able to tolerate both the good and the bad. She recommended to her friend the same method for achieving peace of mind, the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Chandelier in foyer to shine bright,

In big house large windows for natural light.


Apartment to home to upgrade,

Compact for SUV to trade.


Desires in this way not to subside,

Emptiness in soul despite everything tried.


Brahman realization for hankering to stop,

And no more lamentation over what others have got.


With way for devotional service clear,

Chanting names of beloved Krishna dear.