Saturday, August 22, 2015

Incidental Advancement

[Krishna's lotus feet]“A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.5)

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uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ

nātmānam avasādayet

ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur

ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ

The best way to lose weight is to be so engrossed in your daily activities that you don’t even think about eating. With the mind preoccupied, you’re satisfied with very little. Your focus is elsewhere; you don’t have time to worry about whether what you’re eating is up to your standards or not. You don’t even need that much to keep going. Then, gradually, without keeping an eye on it, the weight reduces. You didn’t even have to check the scales.

[bathroom scale]The consciousness can be purified in the same way. The attention on the weight is but one symptom of a much larger problem. The mind is constantly pondering things of temporary significance. For instance, a few years back I was worried about a particular problem. I know that I was concerned, but I don’t remember the exact issue. Since it is forgotten today, it couldn’t have been that important. Yet at the time it was all I could think about. I was so nervous about the outcome that I had a difficult time sleeping.

The source of the impurities is a false identification. I think that I am my body. And who could blame me? Practically everyone thinks this way. By extension my possessions also identify me. No one would purchase a luxury car if they didn’t think this way. No one would spend so much time and money on interior decorating. No one would pay a large sum of money for a dress to be worn a single time.

The science of self-realization is there to purify the consciousness. Living things have consciousness; dull matter does not. The human being, gifted with the ability of discernment derived from their advanced intelligence, can set their mind to something and accomplish a goal. In self-realization, the mind is activated to take on the task of purification.

cañcalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa

pramāthi balavad dṛḍham

tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye

vāyor iva su-duṣkaram

“For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krishna, and to subdue it is, it seems to me, more difficult than controlling the wind.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.34)

[controlling the mind]A famous person who had his mind pretty much under control once said that the mind is so restless that getting it under grips is like trying to control the wind. If controlling the mind were so easy, no one would be addicted to drugs. No one would say inappropriate things. No one would have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning or going to sleep on time at night.

There are two primary routes for purifying the consciousness. One is to study the mind, the soul and the body and understand why we act in the ways that we do. In this route, we learn that we are spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Soul. We descend to this planet and assume bodies composed of the three modes of material nature. Just as the many colors we see are derived from primary ones, all the bodies of the different species are simply different combinations of the three modes of goodness, passion and ignorance.

We can study why we fell into this world to begin with. The initial cause is envy of the Supreme Soul, the one person whose body and spirit remain together forever. As long as the envy stays, we continue to live in this existence, which is likened to a wheel. It is known as the samsara-chakra, as the misery goes on, seemingly without end. The pain doesn’t end at death; simply the cycle starts anew at the time of the next birth.

The second route leading to purification is much simpler. Chant the holy names of the Lord: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Avoid the four pillars of sinful life: meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. If you have any spare time after that, read about the Supreme Lord, the all-attractive one. There is plenty of information to go off of. Even if you don’t like high philosophy, just appreciate the presentation He makes in the Bhagavad-gita. Take joy in His pastimes performed on this earth some five thousand years ago described in the Bhagavata Purana. Hear about His true nature from those who already engage in this service.

Advancement in this second path is almost incidental. There is no need to focus on whether or not your mind is becoming pure. The holy name has so much potency that even when chanted impurely there are benefits. The sign of purity is the lack of material desire. An easy way to assess this is to judge whether or not the enthusiasm is increasing. Am I happy to chant the holy names? Do I take pleasure in honoring the mercy of the Lord, Krishna prasadam? Am I eager to engage in devotional activities?

[Lord Krishna]This is the better assessment to make, as to try to judge the purity of the mind is more difficult. I always have desires. I let lust, anger and greed run the show, and then later I am frustrated. But if I focus on bhakti-yoga instead, without even being aware of it I become a better person. I slowly learn that every spirit soul is the same, that we’re all struggling through the same journey in the material existence. I learn that the best way to purify oneself is to directly serve the Supreme Lord, who is a person. Then I try to help others become pure as well, thereby automatically acting in a compassionate way. When there is steadiness in the engagement of bhakti-yoga, even the desired destination of liberation is taken care of without a problem. This is Krishna’s promise.

In Closing:

Best friend could be the mind,

But also as an enemy can find.


Purify through paths two,

In one aware of progress are you.


In other advancement incidentally coming,

Through service detached becoming.


Easier since only attractive concerned,

Towards beautiful Krishna the eyes turned.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Uncontrolled Mind and Uncontrolled Senses

[Krishna's lotus feet]“The word dama-shariri means that we have a body in which we can control the senses and the mind. The complication of materialistic life is due to an uncontrolled mind and uncontrolled senses. One should feel grateful to the Supreme Personality of Godhead for having obtained such a nice human form of body, and one should properly utilize it.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.31.19 Purport)

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Why is losing weight so difficult? It shouldn’t be, for only simple action is required. Eat this thing and that. And then don’t eat anymore. The result is practically guaranteed. Just as the sun comes up in the morning, the weight will gradually decrease when this prescription is followed.

Why is quitting smoking so difficult? Just don’t do it anymore. Save a lot of money in the process. When the urge comes to smoke, don’t give in. And it’s not like cigarettes have to be all around you. Simply don’t go to the store to buy them. Then eventually quitting will be a reality. So many people don’t smoke and live just fine. It is indeed possible.

[coffee]Why is giving up caffeine so difficult? Simply don’t take it. There are withdrawal symptoms for sure. The headaches will be tough to deal with. There will be the sluggish feeling in the morning. There will be fatigue throughout the day. But it is known that these symptoms are only there in the beginning. Eventually everything will get back to normal. So many people don’t take any caffeine and are able to function just fine.

Indeed, in the human form of life it is difficult to give up so many things. The habits most difficult to break are found in the adults; which means that at the start of life there are no such addictions. The difficulty lies in the mind and the senses. Yet both of these things can be controlled. The ability to control is a special gift to the human species and it is given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

With an uncontrolled mind we say whatever we want. We don’t think of the long term consequences. But there are consequences. As an example, we can take the broadcasting of intentions. There is the negative in that the more people know about you, the more they can use that information against you. With an uncontrolled mind, you tell everything that you’re thinking as soon as you think it, and you suffer later on.

Overeating is a product of uncontrolled senses. The enjoyment is immediate, but later on things may not be so great. Bad habits such as smoking, drug addiction, gambling, and illicit sex are all due to uncontrolled senses. The mind is for controlling the senses, but often it is the other way around.

The benefit to controlling both the mind and the senses is strong and meaningful interaction with the spiritual side of life. Indeed, there is really no other purpose. If the goal was to do whatever the mind and the senses wanted, the animal species would be preferable. Without an attention to the spiritual side, the human birth is regressive. It is going backwards in the evolutionary chain, since there are so many new miseries to deal with.

The human body is a gift from God meant to be used for connecting with Him. A controlled mind helps me to create a regimen of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Controlled senses help me to rely on only the mercy of the Lord for food. This special kind of food is known as prasadam, and it has amazing healing properties.

[prasadam]Most importantly, the combination of a controlled mind and controlled senses helps me to be always conscious of God. Since the Lord is all-attractive He is known as Krishna. He has a transcendental form that displays that attractiveness. It is the focus of unbroken meditation which brings bliss throughout. With an uncontrolled mind one can’t realize this attractiveness, even if it is displayed right in front of them. With uncontrolled senses, the attention gets diverted elsewhere. Therefore regulation is vital for the advancement of the intelligent human being, whose destiny it is to be fully Krishna conscious by the time of death.

man-manā bhava mad-bhakto

mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru

mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam

ātmānaṁ mat-parāyaṇaḥ

“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.34)

[Krishna's lotus feet]There are four primary regulations recommended by those who are fully Krishna conscious. Avoid eating meat. Don’t engage in illicit sex. Never gamble and don’t take intoxicants. On the surface this seems like all the fun is taken out of life, but there is an accompanying aspect that is vital to success. Along with avoiding the four sinful activities there is the heartfelt engagement in bhakti-yoga. Chant the holy names, hear about Krishna, read about Him, explain His glories to others, and offer everything in your life to Him. Then you will slowly come to Him. Once you have Him, you’ll realize the true boon of the human existence.

In Closing:

With restraints on senses none,

Happy now, pain later to come.


To control the senses is the mind,

But often opposite way you’ll find.


Restrict but for pleasure to grow,

Since then easier Krishna to know.


Into the Divine bliss to lift,

This human birth’s real gift.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Reciprocal Agreements

[Radha-Krishna]“My dear Arjuna, one who is engaged in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of previous activities and from mental speculation, who is friendly to every living entity, certainly comes to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.55)

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mat-karma-kṛn mat-paramo

mad-bhaktaḥ saṅga-varjitaḥ

nirvairaḥ sarva-bhūteṣu

yaḥ sa mām eti pāṇḍava

In reading books about bhakti-yoga, the term “pure devotee” comes up quite often. The word “devotee” should be sufficient to get the point across. This word references someone who has taken the incredible step of relinquishing the pressure of responsibility for their future wellbeing and placing at least some of the burden on the highest person. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that only after many births does one try to understand Him in truth and that such a soul is rare.

bahūnāṁ janmanām ante

jñānavān māṁ prapadyate

vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti

sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ

“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)

Sincerely trying to understand God the person makes a person a devotee. What need is there for the “pure” adjective, then? What is the difference between an ordinary devotee and a pure one? As is often the case, an easy way to understand something is to look at the negation first. We can look to things that aren’t pure devotion and study to see why it is the case.

[Sita and Rama with devas]Where better to look than an area that often gets mislabeled as devotion: demigod worship. It is a false notion that Hindus believe in many gods. Sure, there are many godly personalities mentioned in the Vedas, the ancient scriptural tradition that has no known date of origin. These personalities are in the mode of goodness, sattva-guna. The mode of passion dominates in the human species, and in the animal kingdom there is darkness or ignorance.

There are many “gods” in the Vedic tradition, but there are also many similar personalities found in our earthly realm. In music, a popular band is labeled as “metal gods.” In sports, the top performer is looked at as a sort of god. We have high and low in this realm, where some people are better than others in their areas of expertise.

Just as with the people of this world, with the heavenly residents there can be business transactions. Though externally the interactions look like worship, there is a reciprocal agreement binding both parties. One party does the worshiping and the other accepts. Upon acceptance of the offered items, the god in question bestows the necessary gifts. Those gifts are known beforehand. In fact, the bestowal of those gifts is the entire impetus for the worship.

[loyalty discount card]In ordinary business dealings, there are sometimes loyalty discounts. For instance, if you are currently an owner of a particular make of vehicle, the company might offer you a discount if you purchase a new car of the same make. This is an incentive to get you to stick with the company. Though these discounts are available, they are not required for the interaction. Just because I buy a certain toaster today, it doesn’t mean I am obligated to buy from the same company in the future.

The same applies for demigod worship. I could have worshiped a particular divine figure my entire life, year after year. It doesn’t mean that the god will automatically help me again. The practical example of this was seen in Vrindavana some five thousand years ago. The residents had worshiped the king of heaven, Indra, every year to get good rainfall for their crops. They skipped it one year and it almost cost them their lives. Indra was not happy. He did not show any favoritism to them based on loyalty.

[Indra flooding Vrindavana]The distinguishing factor in pure devotion is desire. In devotion to various gods, there is a desire stipulated in the subtle reciprocal agreement. Basically, I worship a particular god to get something from them. It is the entire reason for my worship. The god in question gives a return on the investment, but the initial investment must be there. Hence the relationship is based on conditions.

Pure devotion is described as ahaituki and apratihata, unmotivated and uninterrupted. These two conditions can only be met in worship of God the person. In pure devotion you are free from the impurities arising from desire for fruitive rewards, esoteric knowledge or mystic perfection. In short, you don’t want anything out of the person you are worshiping. You love them purely; your attitude is described as prema.

In this interaction there is something much better than the loyalty discount. Whatever progress you make remains. This means that if you slip up and somehow fall back into the category of ordinary devotion, you don’t lose your place when you start back up again. Even if you go the route of atheism, where your god of choice is the personal senses or the material nature as a whole, you are not punished any more than you already are for leaving the side of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

[Radha-Krishna]Thus it makes all the sense in the world to choose the path of pure devotion. Since there is a personality on the other side who monitors progress, the object of pure devotion has distinguishable features. Since these features are so attractive, they are the object of contemplation for the pure devotee. The personality worshiped is known by such names as Krishna, Vishnu and Rama, and He is the lone person who can accept pure devotion. Even if there are other desires in the beginning, devotion to Him is so strong that there is a purifying effect. So regardless of the state of being when entering bhakti, it is the best option to take.

In Closing:

How to distinguish for sure,

Between ordinary and devotion pure?


The desire of worshiper just see,

Looking for specific reward is he?


With demigods an arrangement made,

Benediction from proper offering paid.


With Krishna progress never to stop,

If even again into impure path to drop.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mourning Train

[Shri Krishna]“Those who are not faithful on the path of devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of foes, but return to birth and death in this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.3)

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aśraddadhānāḥ puruṣā

dharmasyāsya parantapa

aprāpya māṁ nivartante


The Vedas describe our world as mrityu-loka. This translates to “the planet of death.” It makes sense if we think about it. Everything new eventually goes away. This applies not only to living things, but to those manufactured by the living as well. The loss of objects must be accounted for. When a car breaks down, a new one must be purchased. When there is destruction following a natural disaster, the infrastructure needs to be rebuilt.

[train travelling]In this light, the journey through life can be compared to a train ride that features lamentation throughout. Sure, there are periods of elation, joy and happiness. Yet each one of those moments is paired with the pain of separation. Something comes into our life. We then form an attachment to it. We enjoy the association, which we maintain through the attachment.

Eventually there is loss. I may be the one to go first, thereby escaping the pain of separation. But the fact remains that either I must abandon or be abandoned myself. There is so much to lose. I feel sad when my car breaks down. I had it for so long and finally one day it stopped working. It was beyond repair. I am compelled to move on.

I enjoy watching sports on television. There is the potential for my favorite athletes and teams to win. At the same time, however, there is the potential for losing. My team can be on the brink of victory and lose in a disappointing fashion. Then I am left to despair. I don’t feel as good as I did at the beginning of the competition.

[winner and runner up in tennis]From these examples, we see a potential way to avoid lamentation: disengage entirely. Don’t form attachments. Don’t immerse yourself in a temporary gain. Yet this is easier said than done. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that one who renounces things but maintains an attachment on the inside is considered a pretender.

karmendriyāṇi saṁyamya

ya āste manasā smaran

indriyārthān vimūḍhātmā

mithyācāraḥ sa ucyate

“One who restrains the senses and organs of action, but whose mind dwells on sense objects, certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.6)

Considering the risk, there is an easier route: become attached to the one person who stays through time. He is the secret that is universal and spans throughout the time continuum. Time works at His behest; it has no effect on Him. The proof of this is His transcendental body, which is ever-youthful. In Sanskrit the description is nava-yauvanam; always looking new, like a person who has just entered their teens.

[Lord Krishna]Not surprisingly, this person is the Supreme Lord. He is the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita, and through just His words He can bring association. His name is sufficient for companionship. It is wise to be skeptical of strange claims that we hear. In this regard, a test has been conducted. The wise souls have tried to hear the name of Krishna over and over again, and the results they found were amazing.

Through constant chanting of “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” they changed the nature of the train travelling through life. From mourning to rejoicing, life at every moment becomes better. The loss of death still exists, but a way to connect with everyone is learned. The same Krishna resides within every living thing’s heart as the Supersoul. I can connect with those who have departed by serving and loving Krishna. He takes care of everyone since He is the best, well-wishing friend.

The peace formula is to know that Krishna is the ultimate enjoyer of all work, the presiding deity over the entire universe, and the best friend to everyone. As with any well-wishing friend, we can only get His benefit if we are receptive. The mood changes upon consistent hearing of His glories and those who serve Him. Those servants are the beacon of light in this world that is otherwise filled with darkness.

In Closing:

Loss to come with every gain,

So life like trip on mourning train.


How to escape perpetual sadness,

Renunciation’s path akin to madness.


Attachment to the Supreme Lord make,

From sound alone His association take.


Ever fresh, Krishna like teenager new,

Through Him connect to all souls too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Is He Guru Or God

[Rama and Lakshmana with guru]“When He sees that a conditioned soul is very serious about getting out of the clutches of the material influence, the Supreme Lord gives intelligence internally as Supersoul and externally as the spiritual master, or, as an incarnation of the Personality of Godhead Himself, He helps by speaking instructions such as Bhagavad-gita.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.31.18 Purport)

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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada practically dedicated his whole life to fighting against impersonalism, the Mayavada philosophy. His lectures and commentaries are filled with references to the Mayavadis, in excess to the point that one might wonder why such concern is warranted. Why mention another group so often? Besides from how the Supreme Absolute Truth is viewed, how does one distinguish a Mayavadi from a Vaishnava, who worships God as a person? A simple way to tell is from the analysis of the Bhagavad-gita.

Are you worried about death? Are you concerned with what will happen to you after you die? If not for yourself, are you worried about this event happening to others? Experience tells you that it will happen to everyone. Right now there are little miseries here and there. In the spring season, you go out for a relaxing day of golf, or so you think. What you failed to remember is that you have severe allergies to newly grown grass. So your fun ended up mixing with intense misery.

[playing golf]Death is worse because you lose everything. You also don’t know when it will arrive. It doesn’t always give a warning. This means that everything you’re worrying about today could end up being meaningless. Maybe that trip to the bank isn’t necessary. Maybe searching for new cars isn’t the best use of your time.

The Bhagavad-gita addresses death at the very outset. Though viewed as a religious work by the less intelligent, this transcript of a conversation between a student and his teacher presents birth and death as a science. There is a force found within nature that pervades the changes brought on by time. This force exists within all of space; wherever you go. And nothing can eliminate this force, not even death.

na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin

nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ

ajo nityaḥ śāśvato 'yaṁ purāṇo

na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre

“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)

The teacher in the Bhagavad-gita is Shri Krishna. He explains the position of the undying force, the spirit soul. It does not take birth. It does not die. Then what are we so worried about? Why does everyone fear the dreaded end of everything? The end relates to temporary things. The beginning is the same way. We come into this world with nothing and we leave the same way. In between we form attachments to temporary objects, and we do so out of ignorance. The wise person knows that these attachments lead to lust, which then give rise to anger. From anger we do foolish things, losing our intelligence.

[Lord Krishna]Krishna explains that all living beings are souls. The cat and the human being are alike on the inside. The ant and the elephant are souls too. The differences we see are due only to the body types. Not everyone looks the same and not everyone acts the same. Yet everyone is still the same when you reach down into the essence.

Knowledge of this spiritual science is very comforting. Krishna continues further. He says that the material nature comes into existence through His glance. If we took everything that exists, both material and spiritual, we get a complete whole. That whole is one way to view God. This is basically the impersonal understanding. As spirit soul, you and I are the same. Therefore let’s celebrate our oneness; let’s not fight or compete with each other. Let’s take peace from knowing the undifferentiated spiritual energy that pervades the entire creation.

It should be noted that this viewpoint is completely valid. There is an impersonal aspect to the spiritual science. This aspect exists in fact; no wise person would deny it. Yet Krishna continues further. He says that He is the source of this light of transcendence. From Him has come everything. He does not mention a generic God. He does not advise the student, Arjuna, that any person can become the original. He does not advise Arjuna to repeat to himself daily, “I am He.”

The person who truly understands the Bhagavad-gita accepts Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There can be no other conclusion. Anything else is invalid; it is a form of cheating done through envy of the real God. The impersonalist will speculate that Krishna is just a prophet, on the level with so many other important personalities from the past. They will say that He arrived to deliver the message of God, but He is not God Himself. God is an impersonal spirit; He cannot have form.

yadā yadā hi dharmasya

glānir bhavati bhārata

abhyutthānam adharmasya

tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion - at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)

Krishna says that He arrives on the scene whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice and a rise in irreligion. Yet He does not come all the time. The Bhagavad-gita spoken to Arjuna is a special case. In most other circumstances He sends one of His bona fide representatives. This is the equivalent of the prophet idea. The guru is one with Krishna because he has the same interest: to deliver fallen souls.

[Shrila Prabhupada]The Vaishnava knows that Krishna is not simply another guru. The impersonalist fails to understand this, and so the benefit they get from the Bhagavad-gita is limited. The Vaishnava understands that Krishna guides from within as the Supersoul and without as the guru. This combination is His special mercy, and it is reserved for those who are genuinely seeking the truth.

In Closing:

To those the Truth genuinely seeking,

A guru coming and wisdom speaking.


Talking of God and chanting His name,

Though one in interest to Him not the same.


Mayavadi the truth of Krishna not knowing,

So from their effort devotion not flowing.


Limited their understanding of Gita to be,

Only light of Brahman the best they can see.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The One With The First World Problems

[Easy Journey To Other Planets]“The four principal bodily demands - eating, sleeping, mating and defending - can be satisfied under any circumstances, whether one is born in an impious condition or in a pious condition. The problem, however, is how to become free from the four principles of birth, death, old age and disease.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Easy Journey to Other Planets, Ch 2)

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An eye-opening teaching presented by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is that everyone in this world is suffering. Not that a grand revelation suddenly came to the great swami; this viewpoint is shared by any person who is armed with the flawless knowledge that is the Vedas. In this material world everyone is suffering, from high to low. From the highest person that is the creator to the tiny little ant, there are problems.

Juxtapose this truth with the common viewpoint that only those in need should be helped, and you get an interesting topic for discussion. The poor, the hungry, the less privileged – it is agreed that they are suffering more. Yet simply based on an external situation, which is temporary at that, we can’t accurately say that one person is inherently better off than another. As an example, a person can be wealthy but still suffer from seasonal allergies. The itching they feel in their eyes during the spring is the same as what is felt in a person not so well off. The satisfaction from hunger is the same in all people. Indeed, it is true with the animals as well. The dog sleeps on the floor, while the more intelligent human being sleeps on a mattress. But sleep is still sleep.

At the core each individual is a spirit soul. Trapped inside of a material covering, they are subject to the threefold miseries coming from within, nature, and other living entities. These miseries attack everyone; there is no prejudice. Randy was explaining this to his friend one day. His friend was a little skeptical, as he thought it was silly to think that rich people needed any help. He didn’t understand why the work of the devotees of God shouldn’t be focused first on the less fortunate. Randy relayed a recent story from his own life to help get his point across.

I finally upgraded my phone. I use the one given to me by work, since it is easier to carry around only one phone. It is a smartphone; the most popular selling one. Actually, it might not have the highest sales numbers anymore, but it is the one that seemingly everyone uses. Anyway, it was time for a change. Some of the buttons were no longer working, and I wanted to use the new feature of the fingerprint reader.

[iPhone 5s]So work approves the upgrade, and I get my new phone. The first thing I noticed was that the software was different. I hadn’t upgraded the software on my old phone precisely because certain things stop working when you update. It gets really annoying, so I intentionally held off. I had no choice with the new phone. The current software was already installed on their.

The most annoying thing about the new phone is that the stock music player app is much more difficult to use. The company that makes this phone got put on the map precisely because of a device they made for playing music. Now it looks like it’s not that important to them. In the updated app, the icons are way bigger, and all the songs are listed for the artist instead of grouped by album. My daily music listening habits were broken as a result. I got so frustrated one day that I punched my hand into a wall. It was a stupid move, one in the mode of ignorance. Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that unsatisfied lust turns into anger, which then eventually leads to loss of intelligence. I experienced firsthand that He is right.

krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ

sammohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ

smṛti-bhraṁśād buddhi-nāśo

buddhi-nāśāt praṇaśyati

“From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.63)

I went online looking for alternative apps. In my research I found this one blog post where a person was complaining about the exact same issue. I then read the comments to see if other people agreed with him. One of the comments said, “First world problem.” That got me to thinking. Obviously a problem with a music app on a smartphone is nothing compared to someone who doesn’t know where their next meal is going to come from. It’s a stupid thing to get angry over. A little perspective would have helped me in this situation.

Yet the pain in my hand was real. The frustration I felt was not fake. I realized that it doesn’t matter where the pain comes from, since the experience is the same. You see people who have it all take to suicide. We can’t understand why they would do it, but the suffering they were going through must have been real. This means that the suffering must be the same in all living entities, regardless of what they look like, what their religion is, or how much money they have in the bank.

[Lord Krishna]It is for this reason that the most valuable knowledge of the science of self-realization is disseminated to everyone. Shri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the detail behind the abstract. He is God the person, the person everyone should know. Knowing Him means knowing yourself. If you know yourself, you know why you are suffering. Better still, you can do something about it. You can escape that suffering, whether you live in the first world or the third. You can find the light of transcendence through Krishna and His mercy. He makes Himself easily available to any and all through the sound that represents Him: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Old phone time now to upgrade,

But of features changing afraid.


From that frustration to mount,

Though first world, pain same amount.


For this reason bhakti spread to all,

Each person best friend Krishna to call.


Whether high or low in this life perfect,

From knowing Lord own identity detect.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Looking A Gift Horse In The Mouth

[Krishna's lotus feet]“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)

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patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ

yo me bhaktyā prayacchati

tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam

aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ

Your birthday is coming up. Besides being a day where everyone is generally nice to you, you also get a lot of gifts. Though you seemingly don’t need anything, your friends and family feel obligated to at least get you something. If not a physical object, they might take you out to eat.

On this particular birthday, you’re pretty sure what gift you will be getting. You’ve made it rather obvious that there is one book in particular that you’re dying to read. It’s an autobiography of your favorite football player. You’ve been talking about how interesting it is, how it contains lots of previously untold information.

The book is relatively inexpensive, but you figure there is no point in purchasing it since your birthday is on the horizon. This solves two problems. 1. You don’t have to buy it. 2. Your family doesn’t need to worry about what to get you. They know that this book will make you happy.

Well, on the day of your birthday you learn that your children and wife are giving a combined gift. In your mind, this removes the suspense even more. “Since they know I want that book, they’re not taking the risk of getting me something I won’t like. This is perfect.” You take the wrapped gift in your hand. It looks like a book. Now the only thing you have to do is fake astonishment.

[Wayne Gretzky autobiography]As it turns out there is no need to worry about that, as when you unwrap the gift you are genuinely surprised. It is not the book you wanted. It is an autobiography, for sure, but of a different athlete. In fact, you don’t like this athlete at all. So many thoughts rush through your head. You’re a little angry. You can’t believe they messed up something so simple. This was a slam dunk. This was a one foot putt. Then you remember the gift you got your wife last year, and how she returned it the next day since she didn’t like it. You’re tempted to go off on everybody.

There is the saying, “you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” The idea is that you should appreciate any offering made to you that is genuine. How is this possible when we have desires? Where do we look to get an example of the proper behavior? Not surprisingly, the Supreme Lord exemplifies this expression on a daily basis.

In order to do this, God must be a person. He must have a physical form to which offerings are brought. As He is Supreme, there is no difference between matter and spirit for Him. He can accept something through the air. He can appear on the scene through a picture that represents Him. Making an offering within the mind even qualifies. This is described in the Nectar of Devotion, where a brahmana once contemplated offering rice to the Supreme Lord, even though there was no rice around at the time.

“In some of the Puranas the evidence is given that if someone is simply meditating on devotional activities, he has achieved the desired result and has seen face to face the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (The Nectar of Devotion, 10)

[Nectar of Devotion]God as the most attractive person is Krishna. In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says that He will accept a fruit, a flower, a leaf or water offered to Him with love and devotion. This statement is significant. Krishna mentions simple items. He does not speak of an expensive meal offered at a fine dining establishment. He does not speak of rich or poor. Any person can find a fruit. Any person can grab a leaf. The majority of the earth is covered by water; there is no shortage.

The offering should be made with love and devotion. This implies that no other motive should be present. If you’re offering Him an apple in order to get rich, there may be an issue. If you want wealth from the person who has all wealth, why would you be so stingy as to only give Him an apple? Does a single apple satisfy your debt to the utility company? Does exchanging a cup of water give you a new car? Then why should you expect to get opulence for the rest of your life from a measly offering?

On the other hand, one apple can give you the whole world if you’re offering it with pure love. Even if your offering isn’t up to par, Krishna will still accept it. There is the story of His going to Vidura’s house. Vidura was a great devotee who was wrongly ostracized from his family. Vidura was considered low by the king Duryodhana since he took birth from the womb of a maidservant, shudrani. Even though he wasn’t a king, Krishna did not mind.

When Krishna went to Vidura’s house one day to visit, Vidura immediately went to offer Him food. Vidura was so much in bliss that he accidentally served Krishna banana peels instead of bananas. Krishna can eat banana peels; He does not mind. He took the offering and didn’t say anything. He did not look the gift horse in the mouth.

[Lord Krishna]And who else can act that way? This means that Krishna should be the first person we satisfy every day. In Vedic rituals, He must be present, even if there is material motive. He is known as Yajneshvara since every reward ultimately comes from Him. The wise therefore sacrifice everything they have for Krishna’s pleasure. Since He is all-compassion, love for Him never goes in vain. It is always rewarded accordingly.

In Closing:

Be nice when present from loved ones took,

Not like in mouth of the gift-horse to look.


From Shri Krishna get ideal example,

Who satisfied by apple even a sample.


When going to Vidura’s house as guest,

Considered banana peels as tasty the best.


Always satisfied, no matter the size,

To devotees divine mercy giving prize.