Saturday, January 31, 2015

Truly Valorous

[Lord Rama]“The truly valorous Rama only gives; He does not take. He does not speak even a few unpleasing words, even to save His life.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.25)

dadyān na pratigṛhṇīyān na brūyat kiṃcit apriyam ||
api jīvita hetoḥ hi rāmaḥ satya parākramaḥ |

Download this episode (right click and save)

“Man is made after God.” This statement may be discounted by the skeptic relying solely on mental speculation, but we can see proof of the concept through simplifying things. Let us assume that “man is made after man.” This is quite easy to prove. The union of a man and a woman brings a new life. That life behaves similarly to the givers of that life; so much so that behavior is purposefully guided by the guardians so as to avoid mistakes that are predicted beforehand.

The new human being eats. It looks for food from the mother first, and then gradually it learns to eat on its own. It sleeps. The parents to the newborn must sacrifice this, along with other things, but even in tough times they get some slumber. The newborn defends. It doesn’t like it when you attack it. It protects its possessions, and very quickly it learns the concept of “mine.” Through the course of time, maturation occurs and the desire to mate emerges.

These are the four characteristic behaviors of all animals, including human beings, but we can also see similarities at a more granular level. The parents sometimes get upset. When something doesn’t go their way, frustration comes. Not surprisingly, their child exhibits similar behavior. They too become unhappy when their desires are not met. Like their parents, they develop intelligence through experience and observation. They also question the meaning of life and why they were put on this earth.

It is easy to see that man is made after man, but to believe that man is made after God requires some faith in the beginning. The noticeable difference in the comparison is that God is much greater than man. He has the same qualities, but the degree to which they are exhibited is much greater. For instance, we see that man has the ability to create. A single person can construct a house if they want to. If they get the right materials, know what they are doing, and put forth enough effort, they can succeed.

[construction]God also creates, but at a much larger scale. He makes the oceans, the rivers, the forests, the mountains, the clouds and the air. That nature which is so complex that many branches of science exist to study it comes from the mind and physical effort of God. He has intelligence, but it is perfect. It is not developed through endeavor. He is correct from the very beginning. We see evidence of this in the laws of nature. You mix certain elements together and you will always get the same reaction. Release an object from your hand and the gravitational force will operate on it the same way every time.

Another quality we see in the human being is valor. Valor is showing a tremendous amount of courage, especially when it is needed. I can boast about being courageous, but if I’m never in danger, my proclamations don’t really mean much. Valor is shown through times that try men’s souls. It is amazing how some people don’t get scared, even when they face grave danger.

Valor exists in the Supreme Lord as well. According to Sita Devi, her husband Rama is truly valorous. This means that His courage is at the highest level. One way to understand His valor is to know that Rama does not speak unpleasing words, even if it is to save His life. Rama is the Supreme Lord in an incarnation form that appeared on earth many thousands of years ago.

[Lord Rama]Obviously there’s a catch here. Rama never dies; so He has no reason to fear the end of life. The meaning to Sita’s compliment is that in situations where a normal person would surely meet death, Rama does not abandon His vows. He voluntarily accepts certain behaviors, which depend on the time and circumstance. In His appearance as Rama, the Supreme Lord strictly adheres to the code of conduct of the warrior class of men.

Another aspect to Rama’s valor is that He always gives. He does not take from anyone. Someone may offer Him things, but that is not taking. He accepts the kind offerings made with love, but He does not keep things for Himself. He returns the offered items after infusing them with a spiritual potency.

“Krishna has no need of food, since He already possesses everything that be, yet He will accept the offering of one who desires to please Him in that way. The important element, in preparation, in serving and in offering, is to act with love for Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26 Purport)

Rama was once asked to live in the forest for fourteen years. This is a situation of destitution. Even in that desperate moment Rama did not take anything. He simply gave in the form of sacrifice. He had Sita distribute His possessions to the priestly class of men, who lived a meager lifestyle to better concentrate on spiritual life.

[Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in the forest]The truly valorous Rama never abandons His devotees. All qualities in Him give pleasure to the devoted souls. His valor is truly amazing, and it is no wonder then that Sita and Hanuman worship Rama only. In the same way that Rama is courageous in the face of danger, Sita and Hanuman never waver. They each serve according to their relationship to Rama, and each does so without fear. They grant the same fearlessness to one who practices bhakti-yoga following in their line.

In Closing:

In spite of gravest danger,

Rama from vow not to waver.


Showing valor in Him true,

This trait Sita very well knew.


To Hanuman it was explained,

Knowledge to future readers gained.


Every quality in Him giving delight,

Devotees of Him never losing sight.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Talking About Creating An Idol

[flowers offered at Krishna's feet]“O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.27)

Download this episode (right click and save)
yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi
yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam

Friend1: How important is routine in bhakti-yoga?

Friend2: It’s very important. You know that.

Friend1: I’m obviously laying the groundwork for a specific question. But first set the table for me. What things constitute the routine?

Friend2: You chant every day. That’s the most important thing.

Friend1: What do you chant?

Friend2: The holy names. God has many names. He is not limited to one. In the Vaishnava tradition we take Krishna to be the most potent name. Rama is a close second. Hare is the name for God’s energy.

Friend1: So is chanting all there is to the daily routine?

Friend2: It can be. If you have more time, if you’re eager to do more service, there are other things.

Friend1: Like what?

Friend2: There’s cooking. Instead of preparing food for your own satisfaction, you make things that God would like. He outlines those foods, which are in the mode of goodness, in the Bhagavad-gita [9.26].

Friend1: How do you present the food to God?

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: There is something called the deity. God is formless in the sense that He is not limited by His attributes in the way that we are. I am a certain height, but you can’t say that God is. I have eyes, but they can’t see through walls. God’s eyes can see everything. The deity is His mercy upon us. Though it looks a certain way, it is merely a depiction of His sweetness. And yet through that depiction the full presence of God comes. Thus the food prepared for Him and offered with love is presented before such a form, which can reside in the home or the temple.

Friend1: Nice answer. Very thorough.

Friend2: Condescension duly noted.

Friend1: Okay, so you’re doing things like this every day. You’re also praising Him, right?

Friend2: Of course. Why wouldn’t we? As you can tell, in devotional service your whole life is dedicated to God. Even if it looks otherwise, that you’re working to earn a paycheck to be spent by your family, if your mind is in a certain direction everything that you do is love and devotion.

Friend1: Since bhakti-yoga is endless, someone could ostensibly follow the routine you outlined for years and years.

Friend2: Absolutely. In fact, when they pray to God, they ask that they be allowed to continue this service for lifetime after lifetime.

Friend1: Okay, so here’s my real question. Don’t you ever find that a little odd?

Friend2: Find what odd?

Friend1: That you’re worshiping the same person all the time. Isn’t it weird to keep praising someone, day after day? I’m assuming that if you’re a writer in bhakti, your words are about God. So if you’re writing fulltime, you’re stuck on the same topic every day.

[Shrila Rupa Gosvami]Friend2: Boy, that’s a pretty negative way to look at it.

Friend1: It’s a legitimate question, don’t you think?

Friend2: It would be if all you’ve got is your experience of everything that is not God. Outside of bhakti, if you write a hundred books on a single leader of a nation, it’s a little weird.

Friend1: Yeah, people will think that you’re a groupie. They will think that you’ve got nothing better to do than focus your mind on someone who is fallible.

Friend2: By golly my good friend, you’ve stumbled upon the answer, though you probably don’t realize it.

Friend1: How? What did I say?

Friend2: Fallible. All living beings make mistakes. They have imperfect senses. They are easily illusioned, and they tend to cheat. Therefore it’s a little odd to be so hung up on a human being. God is not this way. He is above defects. His attributes are beyond description. Yet trying to describe them is so blissful.

Friend1: But why not spend some days on other people? Why not focus on the weather, sports, nature, news, or something of this world? Wouldn’t that make going back to bhakti more fun?

Friend2: Your premise is flawed. Why should we have to exclude anything? Whatever we see around us can be explained in terms of bhakti. If God is truly the Lord of all planets and the demigods, then His presence must be in every aspect of life. The swanlike transcendentalist can detect this presence, while the less intelligent will claim that God is absent in everything.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: What you don’t realize is that every writer is doing the same thing we are. They are praising. They are also criticizing. It is said that bhakti is ingrained in the soul; it is the soul’s dharma, or defining characteristic. Hate is nothing more than bhakti inverted. It is like having a mirror and then turning it upside down. The mirror still works, but the image seen is reversed.

Friend1: So you don’t feel like you’re part of a cult? I know that the outsider will think it a little weird that you’re so hung up on God.

Friend2: And we think it’s weird that they’re so hung up on the mundane. We can’t imagine spending your whole life dedicated to someone who doesn’t even know their real identity. We can’t imagine what it’s like to destroy a public figure for a single mistake they have made. We can’t relate to that hate. Bhakti is all-love. Even when there is criticism, it is to get others to turn around to find their true engagement.

Friend1: You didn’t mention how attractive Krishna is. I would think that helps in keeping the flame of devotion lit.

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: That’s a given. If He’s not attractive, why would anyone stay so long on the bhakti path? This devotion to a singular object is fun, most of all. So we’re having fun, and we want everyone to experience the same joy. We know that they won’t find that elsewhere, that they’ll only get glimpses of it. The real thing is the Supreme Lord, and bhakti-yoga is the way to connect with Him.

In Closing:

To continue in service to pray,

To praise Krishna day after day.


On the same person stuck,

A little odd to outsiders struck.


But attention so much already,

On the mundane, thus unsteady.


Creation’s aspects with God included,

Thus in praising Him nothing excluded.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Talking About Brute Force

[Shrila Prabhupada“The statutory laws of the state are imperfect imitation replicas of religious codes. The secular state, or the godless state, allows the citizens to break the laws of God, but restricts them from disobeying the laws of the state; the result is that the people in general suffer more by breaking the laws of God than by obeying the imperfect laws made by man.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.13.42 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friend1: Do you think religion should be taught in schools?

Friend2: That’s a loaded question if I ever heard one.

Friend1: [laughing] It’s worth asking. I know about the science of self-realization. I know that we are not the body. There is a difference between matter and spirit.

Friend2: Okay, so what does that have to do with religion?

Friend1: That’s part of Hinduism. It’s a central teaching, if I’m not mistaken.

Friend2: It may come from a very ancient text that is today associated with the culture labeled as “Hindu,” but where does religion come into play when discussing the difference between matter and spirit?

Friend1: I’m not sure I follow.

[Newton and gravity]Friend2: Take gravity for example. Pretend I’m talking to someone who’s never heard of it. I tell them that every object they see is automatically attracted to the ground. They can prove this by seeing what happens when they release an object from their hand.

Friend1: Right, so that is science.

Friend2: Precisely. Saying that a person is spirit and not matter is also science. We mistakenly take this to be a tenet of some religion, but that’s only because we’ve never heard this truth, which is logically sound, before. At the very least this simple truth should be taught in the schools.

Friend1: But you know that people will object. They will say that you are imposing your religious values on others. Even if you try to explain it to them logically, they won’t understand. They will surely accuse you of indoctrinating the children.

Friend2: What is the alternative, then?

Friend1: Secularism. Just don’t mention religion at all. This is what we have now, in the public school system at least. There is no mention of religion. There is no obeisance paid to God.

Friend2: Yes, this is a great trick played on the less intelligent. Secularism is just as much a religion as anything else is. It is a philosophy, after all. It is rooted in ignorance, for the foundational truth of secularism is that the living entity is identical to the body.

Friend1: There’s no faith involved, though. I can see the body. I cannot see God.

[Changing bodies]Friend2: You can see the body, there’s no denying that. You can also see that it is constantly changing. You can see that the individual is the same throughout the changes. This means that you are not your body. To teach that the individual is the same as their body means that the philosophy is flawed from the outset.

Friend1: No one is being forced to follow a certain religion. That’s why it’s called secular. It follows the establishment clause in the first amendment to the Constitution. The government cannot establish a religion for all people to follow.

Friend2: That’s fine. Religion is nothing more than one’s ultimate conclusion in life. I’ll repeat myself: this secularism is just as much a religion as the standard ones out there. It is flawed from the outset. It is wrong from start to finish. In fact, for there to be progress, there has to be mistakes. What they tell us now may not be valid in the future. That is how science works. Things are always changing.

Friend1: But how is it a religion?

Friend2: It is the worst kind of religion because it is forced upon everyone. You cannot go against the theory of evolution. You cannot say in school that God created everything. You cannot question how species can suddenly grow new body parts or become intelligent over the course of time. You also cannot question the validity of pursuing material advancement for sense gratification. It is proven every day that this path does not lead to happiness. It brings more pain and misery than is seen in the animal community. The animals are supposedly less evolved, but without knowing the difference between matter and spirit, the human being is no wiser than the animal.

Friend1: So what are you proposing? You want the Bhagavad-gita forced upon everyone?

Friend2: I’m just saying that there is already religion in school. It is a cheating religion that denies the existence of God. Therefore it is the worst kind of religion. To make matters worse, it is forced upon everyone. There is no choice. In the Bhagavad-gita, after explaining Vedanta philosophy and the core concepts of self-realization, Krishna still does not force the listener to follow Him. He leaves the choice up to Arjuna [Bg 18.63]. That is God. That is real religion. Each person has this choice to make. They are never forced to surrender to God.

[Krishna and Arjuna]Friend1: I see. But this secularism, isn’t it better than some other religion coming in and forcing people to follow it? The Pilgrims fled to the New World precisely to practice their religion without interference from the government.

Friend2: You don’t have to force anyone into anything. You can at least lay the options on the table. You can present each philosophy. You can allow the students to assess the various philosophies and choose for themselves which one they want to accept. This would be the honest way to do things, and the secularist is anything but honest. In Sanskrit they are referred to as an asura, which means one who goes against God. God is the Absolute Truth, so one who goes against Him is inherently a cheater. A cheater will not permit a fair debate, a competition in the arena of ideas.

Friend1: So what can we do?

Friend2: You can take further confidence in Krishna’s teachings through this analysis. As He left the choice up to Arjuna, it means that He really is God. Only the Supreme Lord, who is the most gracious and kind, would eschew force in the surrendering process. Only with the lack of force is there the potential for love. And love is the true mission for the human being. The person who loves Krishna does so of their own choosing, and so they feel always liberated when chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Though God seemingly not obeyed,

In secularism laws there are made.


One where identity taken,

From body, spirit forsaken.


This philosophy upon all forced,

By the state happily endorsed.


But Krishna’s behavior just see,

Left choice to Arjuna did He.


To tell from this compassionate way,

That genuine religion Krishna to say.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Talking About People Being Good

[Bhagavad-gita]“The material contamination is so strong that even a yogi fully engaged in the service of the Lord sometimes becomes ensnared; but Krishna consciousness is so strong that such an occasional falldown is at once rectified. Therefore the process of devotional service is always a success.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 9.30 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friend1: You ever have those days where you just don’t like people?

Friend2: What do you mean? Like when I’m down on the world?

Friend1: Yeah, where you think everyone is bad, where you start to think negatively about a person before knowing them. Instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt, you first assume that they are not a good person.

Friend2: I think everyone has those thoughts in their head from time to time.

Friend1: Well, I’m having one of those days where it’s just the opposite.

Friend2: Really? That sounds too interesting to pass over. Please do elaborate. Rarely do we think that everyone is good at first.

Friend1: I think I’m right about this one, though. I just got back from a cultural program where kids put on a little play.

Friend2: Oh that’s nice. How was it?

Friend1: That’s the thing. It wasn’t good at all. It was staggered, late, and obviously not well-rehearsed. I was wondering to myself why they wasted everyone’s time. It’s a small group, so everyone knows each other.

Friend2: This is that program you go to every week? The one held in the small room?

Friend1: Yeah. So you know the scene already. The play wasn’t performed on a real stage. They just decided it would be a neat thing to do. The kids were excited about it. The parents seemed to be as well. More than one person had their phone out to record it.

Friend2: But you didn’t like it?

Friend1: I thought it was terrible. The narrator had to describe what was going on. The few lines the children had they didn’t remember. The narrator had to whisper in their ear every few seconds. All one of the kids had to do was come up on stage and sit down in a particular spot. He couldn’t even do that. He ran to his mother’s lap instead. It was kind of funny.

Friend2: You realize that you’re a horrible person, right?

Friend1: No, I’m not. Stop it. Okay, maybe I am, but I’m just being honest with you.

Friend2: So how did this experience make you realize that people are good? And how can everyone be so good when you are so bad?

Friend1: Of course I’m excluding myself. As you can tell, I didn’t think the play was very good. I thought it was a waste of time, actually. They could have put on a video instead. Anyway, the reception kind of surprised me. Everyone said positive things. They encouraged the kids, who then promised to put on a new play every week.

Friend2: Did you decide to speak up and voice your displeasure?

Friend1: No chance. It amazed me, however. There’s no way it was a good play. Yet the people said so many nice things. It means that people really are nice. You have your bad apples here and there, for sure. They get all the attention on the news, but deep down people want to say and do nice things. I think it’s inherent in them.

Friend2: You know I had a similar experience.

Friend1: Yeah? You saw an awful play too?

Friend2: No [laughing], but it did involve a performance in front of people. One time my boss got invited to this small conference that one of our clients was hosting. They invited all of their vendors to come and give a presentation about something interesting they were doing. At the last second my boss bails and tells me to go in his place.

Friend1: Oh no.

[Presentation]Friend2: I know, right? I’m not good at speaking in public. I never do it in fact. I couldn’t refuse, so I ended up going to this thing. Without practicing at all, I got up and showed some of the IT related stuff that we were doing. I was so nervous that I barely remember anything. I just kept pointing to stuff on the screen and tried to explain them the best I could. I was so relieved when it was over.

Friend1: Then what happened? What was the reception?

Friend2: It was one hundred percent positive. The other person from the company that accompanied me on the trip said, “Nice job,” as soon as I sat down. I should have suspected something right then. Everyone clapped a lot when it was over. Then later that night we had a little social gathering, a mixer of sorts. People were coming up to me asking me about different points from the presentation. I was really touched by the whole thing. I think they could tell that presenting wasn’t my expertise. They were so nice about everything. That experience stayed with me.

Friend1: Wow. That’s pretty cool.

Friend2: It makes me think that if man is this good on the inside, how forgiving must the Supreme Lord be? He must forgive everyone’s offenses if they are sincere in their attempts to reach Him.

Friend1: Isn’t there a verse in the Bhagavad-gita about that?

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: Yes [Bg 9.30]. It says that if a person on the path of devotional service accidentally commits a grievous mistake, they don’t lose their progress. They continue on.

Friend1: That makes sense if you think about it.

Friend2: For sure. Obviously the cheaters will take advantage of that verse and use it as license to commit atrocity after atrocity, but that doesn’t take away from the true meaning. God is the most forgiving. If He sees that we are genuinely interested in finding Him and staying connected with Him, He will give us every encouragement. After all, what can we really do?

Friend1: We’re like those kids putting on that play!

Friend2: Yeah, with even less ability. We don’t know how to do anything, and yet we’re still brimming with false pride. If we do something as simple as offer a little water to Krishna, He gladly accepts it. He is the kindest person. The goodness we see in people comes from Krishna. So in one sense what you’re feeling today pays a high compliment to the speaker of the Gita.

Friend1: I didn’t think of it that way, but you have a point.

Friend2: We have no ability to please Him adequately, but He doesn’t mind. Sincerity is what He looks for. He strengthens our determination when He sees us always chanting His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

From desire to praise understood,

That all souls inherently good.


From Krishna comes this trait,

Who to overlook honest mistake.


Of those in devotion trying,

With sincere effort applying.


As person the most forgiving,

Protection to devotees giving.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Talking About Losing Awareness

[Krishna and Arjuna]“After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.15)

Download this episode (right click and save)
mām upetya punar janma
duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam
nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ
saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ

Friend1: Let me ask you about intoxication.

Friend2: Sure.

Friend1: I know that it’s one of the things prohibited for the person following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga.

Friend2: Yes. That along with meat eating, gambling and illicit sex.

Friend1: It’s only in the regulative period, though. If bhakti is love and devotion, then it can’t be based on the existence or absence of any outside behavior.

Friend2: That’s true, but the more advanced people will still follow the principles. They won’t hold on to them for dear life, but from knowledge they know that there is no use for such things as intoxication and illicit sex.

Friend1: The reason I’m asking is that I think the person habituated to intoxication would have a difficult time giving it up.

Friend2: There’s no doubt about it.

Friend1: And not just giving it up because it’s formed as a habit - they will have a hard time understanding why they should make any change. After all, it’s kind of fun to escape from your surroundings for a little bit.

Friend2: Right. They look forward to that experience. They like getting extra happy and doing silly stuff.

Friend1: Exactly. So they’ll think to themselves, “Why should I give up this fun? I see no need.”

Friend2: The thing to understand is that in bhakti-yoga you’ll eventually feel a similar high, but of a different nature.

Friend1: If it’s similar then how is it different? Are you trying to confuse me?

Friend2: [laughing] No. Here’s what I mean. How does the high from intoxication happen?

Friend1: A chemical reaction.

Friend2: Sure, but what do the chemicals do? They remove inhibitions. Inhibitions are there from past experience, i.e. practical knowledge. The chemicals make you less aware; they make you dumber in a sense.

Friend1: So you’re saying the high is due to not being so aware?

Friend2: Exactly. By losing knowledge, you’re becoming temporarily happy. It’s a blissful ignorance kind of thing. The knowledge doesn’t change, though. What’s right today will still be tomorrow, after the effects of the chemicals have worn off. So you’re basically getting a temporary sensation which attacks your cognitive skills.

Friend1: That can’t be a good thing. But who would want to be so aware all the time? I don’t want to think about my exam next week. I don’t want to keep remembering that family member I lost to a disease. Why not let me forget for a little bit?

Friend2: What I’m trying to tell you is that you can feel an even higher bliss while being totally aware at the same time. That is one thing that results from bhakti-yoga. You give up four main things at the beginning while practicing devotion at the same time. If you practice properly and under guidance from a bona fide authority figure, you’ll get the result of being “high” all the time, except this high will be with total knowledge of everything.

[japa beads]Friend1: How is that possible? If you’re in knowledge, won’t you keep in mind all the tragedies around the world? How can you be high if you are aware of your impending death? How can you be happy if you know that so many others are suffering?

Friend2: You’re happy because you’re armed with the vision of spirit that comes from assimilating the highest knowledge. Since I know that the origin of all matter and spirit is all-attractive, I don’t need to be sad. Since I know that spirit lives on, regardless of what shape the temporary body is in, I don’t need to be worried about the material fortunes of others. From bhakti-yoga, I know that the yogis in devotion never return to this world that is temporary and miserable. They attain the highest perfection, so they don’t worry. They are only happy.

Friend1: How does this spiritual vision work?

Friend2: In the height of devotion, you see only the spiritual nature of every living entity. You love not only the dog in the home, but also the cows that live on the farm. You see the soul inside of both the priest and the convict. More importantly, you’re so happy to have the chance to glorify the Supreme Spirit on a daily basis. No matter what happens to you, you’ll have this chance going forward. This is promised by the beneficiary in bhakti-yoga.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: And you don’t need the help of any chemicals. You’ll feel this way all the time. That is the meaning to Krishna consciousness. You’re always conscious of Krishna, who is the Supreme Lord in His original form. You’re always aware of His mercy that is available to all. His names, forms and pastimes remain in your mind. If that is the case, what need is there for intoxication? Why become forgetful when remembering brings a thrill that runs through your body?

[Lord Krishna]Friend1: That’s a good point. So if we remember the right things, then we won’t need to get high. I can see that this will be a tough sell, especially to someone who won’t trust that a natural high like that can exist.

Friend2: Indeed it is, but that’s why there are the regulative principles. If you have faith in the beginning, then you’ll eventually reap the reward. For the doubting soul, there is no hope in this life or the next. It’s good to be skeptical of wild claims, but you should be open-minded to something harmless that gets rid of habits that you know are bad. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. The person who finds Krishna in bhakti-yoga is the greatest winner.

In Closing:

If path of intoxication you choose,

Known that awareness to lose.


Only temporary, to reality back,

Life again your happiness to attack.


When in bhakti-yoga sincerely to try,

To experience in full awareness a high.


Like no other previously felt,

At divine vision heart to melt.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Talking About Seconds Away From Infamy

[Hanuman holding mountain]“Yashah, fame, should be according to Lord Chaitanya, who said that a man is famous when he is known as a great devotee. That is real fame.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.4-5 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friend1: Do you ever do things in order to get people to like you?

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: You know, like hold a door open, give a compliment, work hard to accomplish something - do you ever do these things for the sake of receiving compliments from others?

Friend2: I think everyone does to some extent. It’s only natural.

Friend1: Yeah, that’s what I realized. I know that I shouldn’t have that motivation going in, but somehow I do find myself thinking about how great I am after someone compliments me. It’s almost like a drug; the feeling is so good.

Friend2: Who actually goes through life wanting to be infamous? Unless you’re a heel in professional wrestling, you’re not really trying to get people to dislike you.

Friend1: If you think about it, though, the whole thing is kind of fake. The compliments you’re getting are based on something you’ve done for someone. What if you don’t do those things going forward? You’re suddenly a bad person?

Friend2: Exactly. All fame works this way. If you’re able to satisfy somebody else’s senses, they will like you. To them, you are no different than pizza or ice cream. When one day you stop satisfying their senses, they will move on.

Friend1: It can all change so fast, too.

Friend2: Right. I was telling this to someone the other day. Take any famous person. It doesn’t have to be in a particular area. They can be a movie star, an athlete, a writer, a politician, or a religious leader. No matter how adored they are right now, they are all just an internet video away from being hated for the rest of their lives.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: If they screw up momentarily and someone captures it on video, it’s over. If you only hear of the transgression, then perhaps after a while the infamy will go away. But with a video, the images are there to stay. If you make a big enough mistake on camera, your life is ruined.

Friend1: Sadly, that is the case. Makes you think twice about adoring someone you don’t even know. Makes you reflect on whether fame is worth it and whether it actually means anything.

[Lord Chaitanya]Friend2: You know Lord Chaitanya’s take on fame, right?

Friend1: That you shouldn’t seek it?

Friend2: Well, yeah, that too. He inaugurated the sankirtana movement, the congregational chanting of the holy names of God in this age of Kali. His teachings were focused on bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. Pure bhakti is unmotivated and uninterrupted. This means that if you love God at the highest level, you’re not seeking anything for yourself.

Friend1: That makes sense. You really shouldn’t worship God for any other reason.

Friend2: With regards to fame, Lord Chaitanya says that real fame is when you are known as a devotee of God. That is something worth being recognized for.

Friend1: Doesn’t that take away from the purity of it? If you’re seeking recognition for your work, isn’t your devotion tainted?

Friend2: That’s true, but the beneficiary in bhakti-yoga is so kind that He will make you famous even if you don’t want it. And that fame will be worth having. Think of Hanuman and Prahlada.

[Prahlada Maharaja]Friend1: Prahlada became famous at such a young age. No one can really say anything bad about him. Hanuman’s reputation is spotless too. It doesn’t seem to me that either of them wanted to be revered in this way, but I guess you’re right.

Friend2: And just see what results from their fame. So many others get valuable instruction. Prahlada’s teachings found in the Shrimad Bhagavatam apply to any person living in any time period. Hanuman will melt your heart. The combination of courage, kindness, humility, ability, and perseverance have never existed before in one person. Both individuals are known for one thing: devotion to God. You can’t mistake their life’s work for any other purpose.

Friend1: Their fame came automatically. So you’re saying that if you take up devotional service, you will become famous?

Friend2: It’s not guaranteed, but if you’re going to be famous, you might as well have it relate to your relationship with God. This way even if you slip up accidentally, your work won’t be ruined. If you’re working to become known, when you do something bad your work gets nullified in a sense. If you’re working to connect with God, then whether you become known or not does not matter in the end. You’re not an internet video away from ruining your life. The Supreme Lord takes care of you. He says so in the Bhagavad-gita [Bg. 9.30].

In Closing:

Though fame to you now belongs,

Know in an instant it can be gone.


One mistake on video captured,

By it forever be tortured.


Better if as devotee to be known,

Protected by God, one of His own.


To come whether you want it or not,

Like what Prahlada and Hanuman got.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Talking About Experts

[Shrila Prabhupada]“The Vedic scriptures and the acharyas, or saintly teachers, are compared to expert boatmen, and the facilities of the human body are compared to favorable breezes that help the boat ply smoothly to its desired destination.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shri Ishopanishad, 3 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friend1: I saw an interesting thing on television the other day.

Friend2: What was that?

Friend1: They had this college professor on as a guest and he was talking about the upcoming mid-term elections.

Friend2: And you found that interesting?

Friend1: Let me finish, please. It struck me that this person likely has a PhD. They are teaching so many students. They are an acknowledged authority for this particular area. And yet they have no clue what will happen this upcoming election.

Friend2: Yeah, those things are difficult to predict.

Friend1: Moreover, someone without those credentials could just as easily give the same analysis. This “expert” person is really only guessing. They speak as if they are intelligent, but the subject matter is not a science.

[elections]Friend2: Right. Political science means trying to study results after the fact. Then circumstances change after that, so you can’t really use your past research to accurately predict what will happen in the future, though you try.

Friend1: Then I got to thinking. How many more of these experts are there? They have them for psychology. They have them for art and literature. But really, what do they know? These things are always changing. Just because you spend time studying something doesn’t mean that you’ll really know it. But these people are still so respected.

Friend2: I hear you, man. It’s not like they are teaching people simple math formulas. They are not teaching how to pronounce words in a specific language. They are more or less speculating. Moreover, they have to be wrong many times in the future.

Friend1: Yes! That dawned on me too. Unless someone is wrong, how can you do future research? I don’t have to do any more work to find out if two plus two equals four. I know that it does. It will be this way forever. Yet the research done in these colleges shows that what we know now isn’t absolute. Progress means forever changing. Progress means things are always getting revised. Revision can only exist if there is imperfection.

Friend2: Exactly. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would talk about this frequently. The ultimate conclusion that is Vedanta has not changed. It has been the same since the beginning of time. We are spirit soul, distinct from the covering that is the body. Matter, when viewed and used improperly, is maya, or illusion. Brahman is spirit, the Absolute Truth. We come from Parabrahman, the Supreme Truth.

Friend1: And Brahman is happiest when in the company of Parabrahman. Yoga is the way to connect with the Supreme Truth, and bhakti-yoga is the culmination of all yogas. The purpose to our existence is bhakti-yoga. Yeah, that’s the final word; nowhere to progress from there.

Friend2: Perhaps you can describe it in your own terms. You can use art to express what this means to you in your path towards ultimate liberation. You can apply the principles of bhakti-yoga in different ways based on time and circumstance. But the underlying truths do not change. The experts in the field simply relay what past teachers have taught them. They are parrots in a sense. They would be more than happy to be called this.

Friend1: I thought about that too. There is an honesty to the disciplic succession that is missing with these so-called experts, I think. The people on television must know that they are playing in a field of relativity. They must know that they’ve been wrong so many times before. They must know that they have no clue what will happen in the future. And yet they don’t acknowledge any of this when sitting on their lofty perch. They don’t give a disclaimer at the beginning of the instruction period. They gladly take the salary given to them and then remain mum on the truth, that their work is not flawless.

Friend2: Yeah. It gives you a new perspective on what an expert actually is. Someone who knows the Supreme Truth is the only expert. This is because they know the purpose to life. They know why we make mistakes, why we cheat, why we have imperfect senses, and why we are easily illusioned. They know why we suffer from mental disease, why we get grief from other living entities, and why we get attacked suddenly by natural disasters. They are constantly mindful of the impending event known as death, and so they try to make sure others consider it as well.

Friend1: Right. And it’s not to bring them down, either. It’s not to depress them. It’s to wake them up to the mission of the human life. It’s to help bring them towards real happiness. It’s to bring them into real knowledge, where they themselves can become expert in the only field worth studying, the science of self-realization.

[Shrila Prabhupada]Friend2: And then remember that these real experts are not acknowledged on nearly the same level. They get a lot of grief. They get dismissed as being sentimentalists or rigid ideologists. This name-calling doesn’t deter them, though. They know that they speak the truth. They accepted the information on faith in the beginning from their spiritual teachers, and they had that information validated through their own practice.

Friend1: Okay, I think I’m done venting now. I’m glad I at least know about these real experts. I know that they advise me to always chant: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. I hope to do that from now on, taking strength from their confidence in both the power of bhakti-yoga and the ability of its beneficiary to deliver anyone who is sincere on its path.

In Closing:

Man on expert’s chair sitting,

In predicting future not quitting.


But of their past mistakes what about?

Flaws their speculations not without.


The Absolute Truth real expert knowing,

Transcendental light to others showing.


From Krishna is God, to progress no room,

Chant His names and become expert soon.