Saturday, September 6, 2014

Preparing For The Next Birth

[Pandavas with Bhishma]“Suta Gosvami said: Maharaja Yudhishthira, after hearing Bhishmadeva speak in that appealing tone, asked him, in the presence of all the great rishis, about the essential principles of various religious duties.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.9.25)

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[Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.9.25]There’s nothing like a tragedy to get you thinking about your own mortality. Not that you thought that you were going to live forever, but who actually wakes up in the morning thinking that this might be the last day that they live? Experience fools us into thinking that each day will be like the previous one, where we got by unscathed, escaping our inevitable foe known as death. Upon considering our own mortality, we wonder why we have life to begin with. What can we do differently if we had to do it all over again? If I could have my wasted days back, would I use them differently? One king a long time ago saw the greatest death toll to ever occur at one time. He was partially responsible for it, though his hand was forced. What he thought about next would surprise you.

What do we think of when we see a tragedy? If someone leaves us all too soon, we are sure to lament.

“It’s not fair. How come they didn’t get to live out their life? Why do I get to live and they don’t? What could they have done differently? Maybe if they were more careful, maybe if they paid more attention to the warning signs - things could have ended differently.”

After the lamentation is over, if the incident still lingers in our mind, it is only natural to reflect inwards, to consider what effect there is personally.

“I’m going to live life to the fullest. That’s what I’ve decided. Live every day like it’s my last. Why not? We see that anyone can go at any moment. You only live once, so why not take hold of the chance?”

But when stepping back from the situation to make a more sober analysis, we see that everyone is destined for the same fate. This means that if “living life to the fullest” is the way to go, everyone should adopt this method. Why pay attention to diet and exercise? Why worry about truth and adhering to the laws of the state? Why pay off credit card bills when we can spend now and enjoy?

There is a reason that not everyone chooses this path. There is the tomorrow to worry about. If we continue to live on, we suffer the consequences to irresponsibility. In the higher understanding, one sees the continuum of life. New souls enter this world at the same time that others exit it. Those which enter were here previously, and those which have departed will appear again. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, an ancient Sanskrit text of immeasurable value, especially to those trying to understand the meaning to their existence.

[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, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)

[Yudhishthira]The sudden loss of a single life can trigger this thinking in us, but a king a long time ago saw millions die very quickly. It was the result of a war, one in which this king’s side was victorious. There was a price to pay for that victory. Hardly anyone lived amongst the millions of soldiers who assembled on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The famous Bhagavad-gita was actually spoken on that battlefield to this king’s younger brother, Arjuna, by Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus there was the exchange of the highest wisdom before combat began, prior to the mass casualties.

This king, whose name was Yudhishthira, did not want to go to war. He did not want to fight. Sure, he knew that the kingdom in question rightfully belonged to his family, but he wasn’t very interested in ruling. He was not so attached to material opulence or possessions. Yet he knew that war was the right thing to do. If he, as a military leader, did not stand up for righteousness, no one would. The bad guys would constantly stomp over the rights of the innocent. They would turn wrong into right, and no one would put up a fight.

Though he had the backing of Krishna, Yudhishthira still felt bad afterwards, when he emerged victorious. He saw millions die right in front of his eyes. And yet his next response was not to enjoy life to the fullest. He was not concerned with cramming as much sense gratification as possible into the remaining time he had on earth. His reaction was to inquire more into dharma, or duty.

We all have a dharma, or specific duty, to adhere to. For Yudhishthira it was administering a kingdom. This sometimes required violence. To another the dharma might be priestly life, and to another it might be running a business. Then there is the dharma during student life, and then the dharma during married life. There are so many duties to go with the various occupations and spiritual stages of life, but Shri Krishna says that in the end one should abandon all dharmas and simply surrender unto Him.

[Bhagavad-gita, 18.66]“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 18.66)

Surrender is in consciousness; it is not merely a profession of allegiance. It is not simply membership in a religious institution. Surrender here means to give up the fight to be a greater enjoyer than God. It means to abandon the hope of surpassing the Supreme Lord in any category of opulence, be it beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom or renunciation. Surrender means serving Krishna in love, adopting this path voluntarily and with full faith and confidence in its effectiveness.

[Lord Krishna]There will be a next birth, and so the wise person prepares to make it in the most fortunate circumstances. There is no better destination than the place where devotion to Shri Krishna flourishes. And that destination gets created in both the immediate term and the subsequent life through following bhakti-yoga today, which Yudhishthira did. Having seen untold deaths in front of his eyes, from experience alone he is a higher authority in knowing the ways of this world, especially in how the journey through it ends. His ultimate choice from having witnessed that tragedy teaches us so much as well, for he chose surrender to Krishna.

In Closing:

Tragedy giving vision stark,

Image on mind to make its mark.


Myself destined for the same too,

So what now with my life to do?


Sense gratification into it fill?

Or in laziness on couch to sit still?


Telling is Yudhishthira’s reaction to tragedy,

On massive deaths no higher an authority.


Path of dharma to be his guide,

On devotion to Krishna he relied.


Existence of next life he knew,

So stayed on path of righteousness true.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Just One More Hill To Climb

[The Journey of Self-Discovery]“You are a spirit soul, and unless you come to the spiritual platform you will never be satisfied by any sense gratification. You'll simply go on hankering after pleasure, but you will find no satisfaction.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Journey of Self-Discovery, 3.2)

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If you want to succeed in something, talk to those who have already succeeded. This only makes sense, but the odds are not in our favor. Failing is a lot easier. It doesn’t require any effort. Indeed, if you simply quit, you’ve automatically succeeded at failing. As success is hard, typically there are more failures around to offer advice. And their advice will not be encouraging. They will tell you to quit. Therefore it is more beneficial to take counsel from someone who has succeeded against all odds, who knows the pitfalls and how to persevere to overcome the struggle.

We can take the same concept and apply it to spiritual life. There are those who have succeeded in bypassing material sense gratification. At first hearing, this sounds like maybe the successful were the ones who didn’t have much.

“Oh, they were poor, so they decided to take to religion. They didn’t have much to enjoy so they clung to their guns and God. They had no hope, so the offer of spiritual life gave them a way out of a life spent in misery.”

But again this line of thinking comes from the unsuccessful. Those who have never tasted the true fruit of an existence can never understand the mentality of one who has. The real fruit is not sense pleasure, which the animals already get. They eat, sleep, mate and defend. If we do the same thing as them, how is our life any different? What has the human birth gotten us? Indeed, the human being in this analysis is less evolved; it has less enjoyment in the same categories. The animal doesn’t worry about mortgage payments. It doesn’t need a Xanax when going for a long journey. It doesn’t get panic attacks.

Of those who have succeeded in spiritual life, there are so many that tasted more than their share of sense gratification early on. We see evidence of the limits to the material way of life around us everywhere. Why are the rock n roll singers taking to drugs? Why are famous celebrities committing suicide? Why is anyone getting divorced after having struggled for so long to forge a relationship?

[climbing a mountain]Material pursuits are like climbing a mountain. You’re trying to get to the top. Therefore you’ll do whatever it takes to get there. You’ll sacrifice your time. You’ll put aside enjoyment with friends and family. You’ll spend long hours at the office. You’ll eat, sleep and think success. The goal is to reach the top, where all the enjoyment is.

But take it from those who have already reached the pinnacle of achievement that there isn’t much there. For this reason the ones on the top still look for more. They don’t settle. Thus there is the struggle in reaching the top, and then there is anxiety once the goal is attained. Difficulty is the constant. This example shows that there is more to life. You can climb that last hill, but there will be another one to mount. The cycle continues, without end.

That is until one tastes the true fruit an existence has to offer. Divine love, or bhakti, is that fruit. Bhakti is not like kama. It is not something that lasts for a little bit and then goes away. It is not based on the reciprocation received either. We can tell someone that we love them, but that sentiment is based on how they make us feel. If they cease to provide us happiness, our love quickly goes away.

[bhakti]Bhakti is for life; not only this one, but every successive one as well. Those who have succeeded in spiritual life understand this. They try to tell others about the same secret. They advise us to not wait for practical experience of the limitations of material sense gratification. Rather than waste so much time to see that the top of the mountain isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, they ask that we take to spiritual life right away, while we have our wits about us. Whether we’re young, old, married, single, have many years in front of us or are knocking on death’s door, we can find the fruit of an existence through chanting the holy names of God: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

The evidence is there. Bhakti brings eternal life, a constant engagement. The worry over finding life’s direction vanishes. No more is it a chore to find something to do. No more is it a struggle to find meaning to life. Krishna is God, the Supreme Lord in His full manifestation. Bhakti-yoga brings connection to Him, and so it is no wonder that the person finding that connection never wants to let it go, knowing that it will bring them more and more happiness as the days pass.

In Closing:

Just one more hill to climb,

That elusive happiness to be mine.


Not the case sadly,

To crave again badly.


The search on and on to go,

Real transcendence never to know.


Testimony from successful take,

And learn how fruitful this life to make.


With bhakti-yoga senses engage,

Eternal life at divine love’s stage.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Are You Remembering The Sound

[Krishna's flute]“The mind is always flying to this and that, but one must always practice concentrating the mind on the form of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna or on the sound of His name. The mind is naturally restless, going hither and thither, but it can rest in the sound vibration of Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)

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Profit means success. You are profitable in your venture if you have achieved the desired result. As success is not easy, there are rules to live by. To live by a rule, you have to remember it. Likely you received the rule from someone else, so you essentially have to remember what someone else told you in order to succeed. If you heard about that principle through reading or coming upon it by chance, you still have to remember. In a similar fashion, to make the human existence as a whole profitable, one simply has to remember a sound.

[sound]“Keep your chin up.” This rule is for building perseverance. The easiest thing in the world to do is fail. All you have to do is give up. If you’ve had enough of the pressure, if you’re too afraid of dealing with defeat again after a long struggle, you just don’t put forth an effort. Don’t try. You fail from the beginning, but it supposedly hurts less since your expectations were lower. You’re told to keep your chin up, to hold your head high, in order to achieve success, to go against the tide of inertia. You keep this rule in mind because of how easy it is to get discouraged through failed attempts.

“Practice makes perfect.” The human being is flawed. He cannot simply will something to happen. He can’t form an image in his mind and then have it manifest before him without any effort. If you have an idea for how a certain room in your house should look, you have to then put the work in to make that vision a reality. If you want to be a champion, the best in your field, you have to work at it. You can’t expect perfection immediately, since there is only one all-perfect being. You have to practice, and since practice is generally not preferred, you have to remind yourself of the benefits of practicing.

“Live to fight another day.” You remember this principle because at the time of failure it’s hard to remember that time will wipe the slate clean eventually. You’ll get your chance again, even if that chance doesn’t come again for another lifetime. Why give up all hope today when you have another chance tomorrow? You keep this principle in mind because it is very easy to forget time’s ability to heal wounds.

Just as remembering a principle or two helps us to earn temporary victories in this temporary life, remembering a guiding principle can help to achieve the ultimate victory of the human form. This form came to us after a long struggle. We don’t remember it, but we’ve lived before. We know this based on our present experiences. We actually lived in our mother’s womb. We couldn’t see the outside world then. We couldn’t talk to anyone. We remained packed up in the tiniest of spaces for around nine months. In adulthood we have fear of small spaces. Known as claustrophobia, to do something as simple as sit in an airplane for extended hours we require medication to ease our tension. Yet we lived in our mother’s womb for so long without any worry.

[different species]We don’t remember that time, but it did happen. It was a past life in a sense. From the Bhagavad-gita, we learn that there were many past lives. This is made possible by the eternality of the soul and the multitude of species. Think of the species like different outfits. The material world is like a closet full of millions of outfits, each of which can be accepted by a spirit soul. We can spend some years in the outfit of a fish, only to shed those clothes and later on put on the garb of a lizard.

The human form is the pinnacle achievement. It is the best set of clothes because it carries the highest potential for intelligence. Remembering requires intelligence. To know what to remember to achieve a specific result also requires intelligence. So we know that to get ordinary success a person has to have some brains to them. To get out of the material form, to escape the cycle of birth and death, requires the intelligence to remember the foremost guiding principle: devotion.

“Be devoted to God. Remember His transcendental form, which is changeless. Remember His ability to create innumerable universes without effort. Keep in mind His love for all creatures, large and small. Remember His teachings found in the Bhagavad-gita, which say that the material existence is not a very good friend, that it features temporary gains and losses which bewilder the spirit soul who otherwise knows better.”

[Lord Krishna]These are the instructions of the confidential servants of the Supreme Lord, who is the one and only God for all of humanity. To remember these instructions is indeed difficult, as they cover all aspects of life. They apply to any and all situations, and sometimes the rules seem to contradict. On the one hand we should be detached from the outcomes to actions, and on the other we’re supposed to remain enthusiastic in our devotional efforts. How can we remain detached and interested at the same time?

Above all else, the guiding principle is to remember God. We can remember this principle by committing it to memory and calling upon it when needed. We can also accomplish the same by simply remembering a sound. It is a mantra, more specifically, which is a sequence of sounds aligned perfectly together to bring the presence of the Supreme Lord and His energy. The one mantra to remember is the greatest of mantras, and so it is known as the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[maha-mantra]To see if we are progressing along the right path in life, we can ask ourselves the same question each morning: “Are you remembering the sound?” Are we remembering the sound of the holy names? Are we attached to chanting those names, and how long do we go without remembering them? The names are sufficient for success in life, though we have no faith in this. Thus we have to keep reminding ourselves to remember the sound, and the best way to remember is to constantly hear. One who thus always hears remembers not only the sound of the maha-mantra, but also Krishna Himself. In so doing, they attain His nature in the next life, living in His land, where He takes great pleasure with His perfect energy, Hare, and His number one protector, Rama.

In Closing:

For success in venture to find,

Guiding principle to keep in mind.


From remembering only a sound,

Success of human birth found.


Carrying in potency to Him the same,

So important thus the holy name.


Tomorrow and today remember by hearing,

Sound your pathway to liberation clearing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

No Place To Stay

[Krishna's lotus feet]“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.16)

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[Bhagavad-gita, 8.16]By following bhakti-yoga, the work you do leads to a trip to a destination from which you never have to leave. In all other kinds of work there is no place to stay. This begs the question as to what the work is done for? Why not create a permanent result? Why not go to some place where it is so nice that you’ll never have to leave? All places, including higher and lower planets, feature repeated births and deaths. The lone exception is Krishna’s realm, the home of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

What is repeated birth and death? Does this refer to reincarnation?

[sunset]It surely can, but you don’t need to extrapolate out that far. The dawn of a new day is a kind of birth. Dusk signals the subsequent death. The positioning of the sun in the sky helps us to understand the passage of time better, but mere analysis does not determine an existence. The sun’s setting in the evening does not mean I have changed. When we talk about the past, we’re simply referring to a certain number of settings of the sun, a specific tally. Thus the past isn’t really any different than the present.

[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)

Shri Krishna explains this better in the Bhagavad-gita. He clears everything up. He says that just as the body of the living individual changes from boyhood to youth to old age in this lifetime, the same soul passes into another body at the time of death. These facts do not bewilder the person who is self-realized, or dhira.

Birth and death accompany anything that is temporary. They apply to work as well. Imagine this situation. You’re on vacation from school. In the summer you get three months off. Though your parents insist that you do some studying to prepare yourself for the next school year, you decide to instead play all day.

[NHL 94]This summer you’re playing video games. You particularly like the sports games, so you’re completing entire seasons very quickly. These games feature an “offseason” mode as well, so part of the game is assembling a roster. You get to negotiate contracts, draft players, and even make trades. Let’s say that you’re done playing the regular season and all set for the playoffs. Then your mother enters the room and accidentally trips over the power cord, which causes the game to reset. This particular game doesn’t auto-save, so you’ve lost all the work that you’ve done. Your season that took many hours to complete cannot be recovered.

In another scenario, you’re an adult. You work hard to purchase the home of your dreams. This time you’re able to live there for a long time. But eventually, after many years, the house empties. You realize that it is too big for you and your husband. You want to travel instead. Therefore you convince him that it is a good idea to sell this house and get a smaller dwelling, one more suited for just the two of you.

In another scenario, your work is extensive research on a particular area of the continent. This place is very cold, so you’ve had to make special arrangements for your living there. You can only conduct your research during a particular time of the year. The rest of the time it is too cold to handle even with your special arrangements. Therefore you can’t always stay at the place that seems to interest you the most.

[Antarctica research]The same Shri Krishna, the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita, says that all planets, from the highest to the lowest, have the same defect. The different planets are like different residences. They are destinations for the spirit soul, who travels to them in accompanying bodies. We need spacesuits and oxygen masks for a brief trip into outer space, but with pious activities we can get a body suitable for such places. With those bodies we can live in other planets for a very long time. With impious behavior we get bodies suitable for life in hellish areas.

Wherever we go, we can’t stay. That is the problem. And our work determines the places to which we travel. This means that the person who remains in their small community all their life is no different than the person who travels all around the world. Both only find temporary residences. This is true of all creatures, large and small, simple and complex.

The individual who works in devotion gets a different kind of destination. They work to please the Supreme Lord. They don’t merely acknowledge His existence. They don’t just profess allegiance to a religious institution and then go about doing every other activity they normally would. Work in devotion leads to a change in consciousness. The person reaching Krishna’s planets is always conscious of Him.

To effect that change, the best method in the current circumstances is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Chanting this mantra brings effects that never vanish. There is birth and death for the ordinary work that I do, but work in devotion brings permanent results. Even if I forget the Supreme Lord again, I am assured of a revival later on, getting a restart from the position at which I left off.

Why would I want to go to Krishna’s planets? What is so special about His realm?

[Krishna stealing butter]Happiness in life comes from service. Study human behavior close enough and you’ll realize that this is true. In Krishna’s realm the opportunity for service is always there. There is plenty to do. There is plenty of love to offer. The recipient can accept it from an endless amount of people. Gone are the days of worrying over the direction in life. Gone is the fear of death, as one who reaches Krishna’s abode never has to leave. They get to gaze at the darling child of Yashoda and Nanda. They get to lob abuses in fun at the clever prankster who steals everyone’s butter. They get to run in the fields with the child who is the beloved of the cows and the calves. They get to speak of the pastimes of the savior of the fallen souls, who delights the parrots and deer with His wonderful movements. And all of this takes place perpetually, making it both the one place where we get to always stay and the place where no one wants to leave.

In Closing:

All this work why do I do,

When again to leave this place too?


A permanent residence why not,

Where to entering and leaving cycle to stop?


Such planetary realm existing only one,

Through devotional consciousness it is won.


From service to Krishna supreme delight,

Never having to leave, a future most bright.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A View From The Past

[Lord Brahma]“It is not that intelligent human beings did not exist millions of years ago. On the contrary, it is understood that the most intelligent creature, Lord Brahma, was first created. Then Lord Brahma created other saintly sages like Marichi, Bhrigu, Atreya, Vasishtha and Lord Shiva.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.24.73 Purport)

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You’ve heard the theory. A long time ago there was only a chunk. Or perhaps it was only chemicals. Everything was in an undeveloped state; there was only potential. The changes kicked into gear with an explosion. The ruins from that event gave way to the progression of the species, leading to the intelligent human being that we have today. With this theory in mind, the guess is that man from past ages was less intelligent. He didn’t know the right way to do things; he wasn’t progressive. From the Vedic perspective, however, everything started with the most intelligent being. In fact, doing a role reversal, the intelligent man from ages past can observe today’s man and have a fun time.

[outer space]Who is that most intelligent being? The word “God” rings a bell, but this hardly describes His features accurately. The Sanskrit word “Bhagavan” is more preferable. That word breaks down into six categories of opulence, with intelligence being one of them. Those opulences are held in full. Thus we safely surmise that God is the most intelligent person the world has ever seen.

From Vedic texts we get more detail. That explosion the scientists guess to have happened billions of years ago is actually the exhaling of the Supreme Lord. And this occurs through one of His expansions. Think of it like typing with your two hands while holding a conversation with someone else. Think of it like writing the most complex computer program while you are sleeping. This begins to describe the ease with which Bhagavan creates this and many other universes.

[Lord Vishnu]As Vishnu He breathes out to get the work done. From the pores of His body emerge the universes. Then within each universe there is a first living entity. Usually his name is Brahma. Brahma then creates everything. He is like a painter with his own palette of colors, except his colors are the three modes of nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. He can mix these three ingredients in any way he chooses, and the result is 8,400,000 different species.

The skeptic will claim that this is all guesswork.

No one knows who Vishnu is. No one has seen Brahma. So how can we know that there is intelligence to the creation?

For starters, we have the ancient texts themselves. They contain not merely historical information. There is the highest philosophy ever seen in this world in those works. The Bhagavad-gita is still studied to this day by people from all walks of life. Though it was last spoken to a distressed warrior on a battlefield some five thousand years ago, the speaker says that the wisdom dates back to the beginning of the creation.

[Bhagavad-gita, 4.1]“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)

[Time magazine]So we have a philosophy that persists through time in its effectiveness. The corresponding culture also cannot be matched in terms of the positive impact on those living within it. In fact, even in today’s progressive world many of the conclusions reached concur with wisdom from ages past. A major news magazine puts on its cover that men and women are different. The nutrition experts say that the key to losing weight and maintaining health is to eat in moderation. Those having a difficult time finding a spouse are taking to matchmaking, where compatibility gets judged from the start. Despite increased material opulence, others still feel that something is missing in their lives. They are looking to renunciation. They give meditation and yoga a try.

The typical view of the ancient man is that he wasn’t very wise. He was a Neanderthal. He didn’t know how to do anything. He came up with marriage as a way to subjugate women. The women didn’t know any better. The people lived off the land because they hadn’t yet developed machines. They worshiped God because they didn’t know any other way to get their stuff. They hadn’t yet figured out how to exploit the nature around them.

[Bhagavad-gita, 7.5]“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 7.5)

The person from the past could have equally as good a time observing the people from today; and their observations don’t rely on guesswork. Imagine this scenario. A person from the past time travels to the present, lives among us for a few months and then gives the following report upon returning home:

“I saw many odd things indeed. In order to put food on the table, the people spend upwards of two hours a day travelling. They sit very miserably, crammed inside of these tiny cars they call trains. Everyone rushes towards the train headed for work in the morning, lest they be late. Then they sit in a building for upwards of eight hours, only to rush back to the train to return home. Upon reaching home they are so tired that they can’t think of doing anything.

The people are constantly intoxicated. That is their leisure time fun. Another odd thing they do is pay an establishment to allow them to lift heavy objects. After visiting a few times in the beginning, they cease going, though they still get charged every month. The men and women are always quarrelling. They have invented this thing called divorce, where if the marriage doesn’t go well, both parties split. Marriages now happen as a mere formality, as many cohabitate first upon mutual attraction based on the body. They’ve even developed marriages between men and men and women and women.

Some of the people spend hours a day trying to fix a device that they purchased. These devices allow them to communicate with others very quickly, to read the news from other communities, and to take photographs of themselves. The photograph is like an image in a mirror, only lasting much longer. Though these devices can do so much, the people run into problems with them all the time. Overall, I see that they are very frustrated. No one is happy. They are in decline.”

It is natural to wonder how someone from a previous time lived. The typical fuddy-duddy bemoans the conditions of the present. They speak of how when they were young they endured so many hardships and had no problem whatsoever. They say that the present generation could never survive in similar circumstances.

[Lord Krishna]In any era man can survive with very little. In any era what gives them true happiness is the same: transcendence. To go beyond hankering and lamenting, to feed the hunger of the soul, brings the only real peace. The Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic works give the peace formula, and that formula has been in place since the beginning of time. It works every time it is tried, so despite whatever progression or regression has occurred the chance for true happiness awaits any person fortunate enough to accept the instructions descending from the Supreme Lord Krishna.

In Closing:

If man from past today to have a look,

And back to his time information he took,


Of unhappiness of people he’d say,

How in progression they’d lost their way.


From the start intelligence existing,

Wisdom of Gita to today persisting.


In any age boon of life same to be found,

Transcendence, divine love free of bounds.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Radhashtami 2014

[Radha-Krishna]“My dear friend, do You think that this walking personality is a tamala tree? If He is a tamala tree, then how is it possible for Him to walk and be so beautiful? Then, this personality might be a cloud. But if He's a cloud, then where is the beautiful moon within? Under the circumstances, I think it may be granted that this person is the same enchanting Personality of Godhead by whose flute vibration the three worlds are captivated. He must be the same Mukunda who is standing before Govardhan Hill.” (Shrimati Radharani, The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 30)

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What does it mean to have perfect vision? Is it passing an exam prior to getting your motor vehicle license? Is it being able to read letters on a screen from a distance? Is it being able to identify something that should be known to you? One person in particular has perfect vision, and that perfection does not relate to any of these things. Rather, she sees Krishna everywhere. That Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the definition behind the abstract concept of a supreme controller. Since she has this perfect vision, she is most worshipable and dear to Krishna. On the occasion of Radhashtami we celebrate her appearance in this world.

[eye exam chart]In the inverse situation, the poor vision does not see God anywhere. Perhaps we are in this situation presently. How can we see God when we don’t know what He looks like? Is He in the pillar holding up the building across the street? Is He in the wind that blows through the trees? Is He in the sound of the music that I most prefer to listen to? He is indeed in all of these things, but the person lacking the perfect vision cannot notice this.

Lacking the sight necessary for perceiving Him, such unfortunate souls might descend to the point that they’ll think God does not even exist.

“Everything occurs randomly. There is no order to the universe. People just made up God as a way to deal with death. It’s a primitive way of thinking. We are more advanced now. We can see within the body to identify the disease. We can see deep into outer space to study the universe. We can predict a hurricane several days prior to its arrival. Where is God’s influence in this? Why do you speak of a God when man has done all of this?”

[hurricane on radar]Actually, the ability to apply intelligence already indicates the presence of a higher force. Man has intelligence, there is no doubt about this. While he can do amazing things he can’t figure out why he has taken birth. He can’t figure out why he is compelled to die. Instead, in futility he tries to prolong life indefinitely. This endeavor is always a failure, and so success gets redefined down to living a few extra years from the average.

The periods of the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, the ability to study the life cycle of the human being and other species, the predictability of disease and human behavior - these things all give an indication of God. But you don’t need to even dig that deep. Simply looking upon a tree can give you the vision of God. This is the case with Shrimati Radharani.

She lives in Vrindavana, which exists both in the earthly realm and in the spiritual sky. We know of her earthly pastimes based on works of literature passed on since many thousands of years. In Vrindavana there is a type of tree called tamala, which has a unique color. It is blue, which is rare for a tree. That color is a perfect match for the bodily hue of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna. A few of those trees are still around in the earthly Vrindavana, so this allows one way of knowing exactly what God’s body looks like.

Shrimati Radharani sees Krishna everywhere in fact. This is due to her consciousness. Never for a moment does she forget Him. And that consciousness is in a loving mood. Not for her own satisfaction, but always looking for Shyama’s pleasure, Radharani constantly thinks of Him. This thinking makes a person more happy than otherwise possible. Real happiness is this thinking, and so Radharani is the ideal example for any human being wishing to know the inner secrets to the creation and their own existence.

[Shrimati Radharani]Radha’s vision is so perfect that simply upon seeing a tamala tree she thinks that Krishna has appeared. She embraces such a tree sometimes, thinking that her beloved has come. Indeed, why should not the tree remind us of Krishna? The pious trees provide fruits which allow us to live on. The impious trees at the very least provide shade and oxygen, which can help us to stay alive.

When Radha and her friends, known as the gopis, see an ordinary tree they also think of Krishna’s flute. The flute is made from wood that comes from the tree, and so they have so much appreciation for that tree. They then extend their appreciation to the flowers that surround the tree. Then the nearby river also gets praises.

Radha sees Krishna in His friends, who give the Lord so much pleasure with their daily play in the pristine forests of Vrindavana. She sees Him in the dark blue cloud that is ready to pour down rain. She sees Him in the Govardhana Hill, which Krishna once famously lifted to save the lives of the residents of Vrindavana. She sees Him in the cream that stands atop the pot of yogurt. She and her friends try to sell this yogurt in the neighboring town of Mathura, but Krishna intercepts them and playfully eats the cream, thus making the yogurt not very appealing for sale.

[gopis intercepted by Krishna]As Radha always sees Krishna, one who sees Radha the proper way will also see the Supreme Lord. He is always together with His pleasure potency expansion, the beloved daughter of Vrishabhanu and Kiritida. To please Radha means to easily get the mercy of Shri Krishna, whose single glance can transform a life previously spent in misery into one full of optimism that renews every day with the knowledge of the chance to serve the beloved pair, Shri Shri Radha and Govinda.

In Closing:

From just the vision of a tree,

Image of the Supreme Lord to see.


Tamala of the color blue,

Perfectly matches bodily hue.


Of Shri Krishna, to Radha so dear,

She having vision pure and clear.


Radhashtami celebrating day of her appearance,

By her favor, for bhakti’s success getting clearance.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Seeking The One God

[Lakshmi-Narayana]“People are accustomed to worship different forms of demigods, but in Bhagavad-gita such a mentality is condemned; therefore one should be intelligent enough to worship only the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His different forms such as Lakshmi-Narayana, Sita-Rama and Radha-Krishna. Thus one will never be cheated.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.25.38 Purport)

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“There are many gods. Just pick one. It doesn’t matter which one you choose; but you have to worship. To say that one is better than another is silly. Everyone is divine after all. We are all one in that sense.”

Perhaps you’ve come across such sentiments. Perhaps you’ve thought them yourself. There are so many people worshiping, and so how can they be worshiping different people? The objects of worship must be the same, you think. In truth, there is only one Supreme Lord, but this does not stop worship of other entities. One can tell the difference based on the rewards sought.

Can we like different people? Can we make friends with some and not with others? When we call out the name of our friend, are we referring to everyone? Obviously each individual is unique. People may be similar in their constitutional makeup as spirit soul, but they are separate individuals. I cannot call the name of my friend and automatically expect the President of the United States to hear me. I can’t say that since I’m close with my brother that I’m automatically good friends with every person in the world who is a brother.

[credit card swiper]These connections are in friendship, but a closer resemblance to the worship of the many gods in the Vedic tradition is the offering of tribute in the form of a transaction. If I pay my mortgage this month, does it mean that my mobile telephone bill is satisfied? If I go to the supermarket and pick up produce, does it mean that I have purchased an automobile? Each interaction is specific in scope, and there is something each party seeks. The seller wants my money, and I want the good or service provided by the seller.

The worship of the many gods is like this. The worshiper seeks something at the outset. They want a blessing. The blessing is specific. “Give me a good house. Give me a good job. Let me pass this exam. Help my son or daughter do well in school. Protect my family.” While at the convenience store I pay by swiping my credit card, for worship of a divine figure I perform a specific ritual. Upon completion, I hopefully get what I want.

Worship of the Supreme Lord, the god of the gods, is different than this. We can tell simply by the rewards He offers. His gifts are not temporary. He is not an order supplier, either. There is no shopping cart with Him. We can’t simply do a ritual and then expect to get something. He is the best friend, after all, so He will not always give us what we want. If we desire something that will ultimately do us harm, He will deny our request. If failure in a particular area will be to our benefit in the future, God will make that temporarily unpleasant outcome a reality.

The reward He offers is His association. In worship of the other divine figures, in rare instances the worshiper seeks a similar reward, association. But those divine figures do not remain manifest forever. Their abodes are temporary. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita.

[Bhagavad-gita, 8.16]“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.16)

[planets of the spiritual world]In this sense, cherishing association with a divine figure is like having an attachment to someone in the earthly realm. It is like having a relationship with a king instead of a commoner. The king is a human being too. They also must suffer death. They may be in an elevated post right now, but that post will mean nothing at the time of death. The divine figures are elevated as well. They can live for thousands of years. Yet they will not stay in their residences forever.

Not the case with God. In His original form, He is a beautiful youth with a blackish complexion. He is always a youth. We only know of youth as a brief stage in the progression towards adulthood and old age. It is a stop on the train of life. It is a stage we don’t appreciate while we are in it, but which we long for once it is gone. With God, youth never leaves Him. He is eternally kishora, and His beloved consort is kishori.

“Krishna with Radharani is worshiped as Kishora-kishori. Krishna does not increase His age that although He is the oldest personality and has innumerable different forms, His original form is always youthful.” (The Nectar of Devotion, 42)

[Radha-Krishna]What may cause some confusion is the fact that the original form of Godhead can expand into non-different forms. This appears to be the same polytheism of worship of divine figures, but it actually isn’t. These expansion forms are the same original kishora. They just appear differently to match the variety of devotional mellows, or rasas, available. If I work as a Supreme Court judge, not everyone will treat me the same. In the courtroom I get respect. On the phone I get reprimanded by my wife for working too much. At home my children jump on my back. At the restaurant my friends make fun of me. Thus there are different relationships, even though I am the same person in each situation.

The recommendation is that one develop an attachment for kishora, who is also known as Krishna, or one of His non-different expansions. Such a relationship will bring the association of the desired object. These objects remain forever, and they are more than just a deity form. They are always alive, capable of full reciprocation. Just a little faith is required in the beginning, faith that by going to the one God of all living beings nothing will be lost. If there is faith in the security of the association of the one heavenly father, then that association soon becomes a reality.

In Closing:

From the many forms to see,

How one God there can be?


Are not all the same,

And just differing by name?


By requests the assessment make,

And see what from figures to take.


Sometimes to deny your appeal,

Can only happen from the God real.


Sometimes looking like this and like that,

But personality known by features exact.


His association your way to send,

From His realm never to descend.