Saturday, August 29, 2015

Blurry Eyes

[Rama's hand]“The path to love for Rama can only be found after one turns their back on worldly pleasures, like how the snake can only concentrate after having shed its skin, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 82)

rāma prēma patha pekhi'ai di'em̐ biṣaya tana pīṭhi |
tulasī ken̄curi parihareṁ hōta sām̐pehū dīṭhi ||82||

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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would often be asked the question, “Can you show me God?” After all, to have evidence for something we insist on sight. When checking the authenticity of pizza, we go off the taste. We know we are listening to Beethoven based on sound. The difference between a polyester shirt and a cotton one is determined by touch. A rose is in our vicinity through smell. Yet for having firm belief in the Divine, we insist on seeing. Prabhupada’s answer lines up with this verse from the Dohavali.

[pizza]Man is in illusion. In fact, he is easily illusioned. This is one of the four main defects associated with birth in the material world. Man has a tendency to cheat. Just look at the headlines on the back page of the daily newspaper. Athletes cheat all the time. Indeed, to conceal strategy is also a form of cheating, though it is allowed. If there were full honesty by the participants, the game wouldn’t be any fun to play.

Man commits mistakes. We know this from the famous phrase, “To err is human.” People mess up all the time. It is for this reason so much emphasis gets placed on forgiveness. If you are truly religious, you will learn how to forgive.

The fourth defect is imperfect senses. This one is a little more difficult to realize right away. But think about it. Can I see something happening outside of my house? Can I hear the band playing in a city hundreds of miles away? Can I smell the delicious samosas cooking in my mother’s kitchen while I am at the office? These are limitations of the senses. Perfect senses means not being limited.

[samosas]The combination of imperfect senses and being easily illusioned removes our eligibility to see God. This is the answer Prabhupada would most often give. “Do you have the eyes to see God? How can you expect to see Him when your eyes are tainted?” We can infer from the response that despite the imperfect senses there is still a way to see God. This must be the case; otherwise no spiritual teachers would exist. No one would know who God is, where He lives, or what He looks like.

Tulsidas says the way to see God is to first turn the back on worldly pleasures. This means removing attachment for sense gratification. We have to eat. We couldn’t survive otherwise. The idea is to not be so much attached to the kind of food we eat. We determine attachment by consciousness. We can measure consciousness in this area by the reaction to separation. For instance, if I suddenly don’t get to eat pizza tonight, how upset will I get? If everything isn’t cooked exactly right, am I quick to reprimand the cook? Am I in a frantic chase to find intoxicants?

yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ

janānāṁ puṇya-karmaṇām

te dvandva-moha-nirmuktā

bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ

“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.28)

Lord Krishna confirms the opinion of Tulsidas. He says in the Bhagavad-gita that one only takes up service to God after they have exhausted all sinful reactions. Basically, any material desire is sinful. Sin is anything that leads to rebirth. The first step towards purity is eliminating desires that lead to rebirth.

Turning the back on worldly pleasures clears the eyes to see the path of love and devotion to God. Tulsidas worships Rama, who is the same Krishna. Not all divine figures are the same. There is the one personal God who manifests in different ways. He has deputies as well, who represent Him and carry out His interests. Rama is the personal God who appears in the second age of creation, holding a bow and arrow set and protecting the pious sages living in the forests.

Tulsidas makes the comparison to the snake. The snake sheds its skin on a regular schedule, and part of that shedding involves the eyes. The eyes get cleared after shedding, enabling the snake to again look for food. Material desire is a kind of skin that needs to be shed. It covers the eyes, and until this covering is gone it is difficult to understand the need for service to God in love. Indeed, with blurry eyes man mistakenly thinks that there is no God. Or they equate all divine figures as being equal; thereby making themselves eligible to become the Supreme.

[Rama's hand]Service in love is the way out of delusion, and that path cannot be found while the eyes are tainted. Therefore the spiritual master, such as Prabhupada, takes it upon himself to teach the people of the time how to fix their senses. In this age especially the most effective method is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This is both the medicine and the path itself. In the beginning it is like a clearing process, and gradually the individual comes to realize that it is their path towards salvation as well.

In Closing:

So again towards food to be led,

The snake its skin and eyes to shed.


Path for illusioned the same,

Purification for vision of God to gain.


Not so easy to see,

But in front of you is He.


The guru’s words the way to show,

Then into the divine shelter to go.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Showing You The Way

[Rama's hand]“If a traveler comes in front of you, you give them the proper direction to go, right or left. In the same way, if you approach Shri Rama, He will give you the right direction, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 81)

sanamukha āvata pathika jyōṁ di'ēm̐ dāhinō bāma |
taisō'i hōta su āpa kō tyōṁ hī tulasī rāma ||81||

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In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that kama is the all-devouring enemy of this world. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates kama as “lust.” Kama also means “desire,” but due to the nature of that desire the word is synonymous with lust. They are one and the same, and to give it full attention is to only sink further into the pit of misery and despair. Goswami Tulsidas provides the way out. Approach the same Krishna, who is also Rama, and get the right directions.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

kāma eṣa krodha eṣa


mahāśano mahā-pāpmā

viddhy enam iha vairiṇam

“The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.37)

The object of service reveals that desire and lust are identical. If it is for only sense pleasure, something temporary covering the otherwise spotless spirit soul, then the desire is to exploit resources coming from God, to enjoy separately from Him. The proper way is to take the ingredients given by the creator and use them for His pleasure. This mindset is the original one and it is called bhakti. When the desire shifts away from the author of all things, you get kama.

Kama devours since the more you try to satisfy it, the more entangled you become. Consider the gambler who makes a wager that pays off. They think they are satisfied, but due to greed they only want to play again. Even if they walk away, they need something to spend their winnings on. Whatever object they get, they don’t derive full satisfaction from it.

[gambling]As is often the case, there is only more to maintain. You purchase a large house and you have to worry about protecting it. You get an expensive car and then have to make sure to park it away from other cars; lest a scratch ruin its pristine state.

The full embodiment of kama is sex life. Illicit sex life is the root cause of all major problems in the world. It brings disease, poverty, heartache and constant hankering. It is for this reason that marriage is mentioned in every major religious tradition of the world. Man does not need guidance on how to eat or have sex. These things the animals can do with their limited intelligence. The mention of marriage in scripture is for limiting sex life, following it in a sanctioned manner. The same goes for the various sacrifices mentioned relating to food.

viṣayā vinivartante

nirāhārasya dehinaḥ

rasa-varjaṁ raso 'py asya

paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate

“The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.59)

Of course it is difficult to follow renunciation without experiencing something better. That higher taste is love and devotion to God, which you learn about from God Himself. Tulsidas provides the example of being approached on the road by someone coming from the other side. You can tell them which direction to go, left or right. It’s similar to the right of way when at a stop sign while driving. The other driver may not know when it is okay to go, but through a simple gesture you can help them. When on foot, they can walk alongside you also.

[stop sign]In the same way, if you approach the Supreme Lord sincerely, He will give you the proper direction. He famously did so in the Bhagavad-gita, when the warrior with doubts named Arjuna needed help. Arjuna put his questions to Krishna and received answers to his satisfaction. The worshipable form of choice for Tulsidas is Shri Rama, who is the same Personality of Godhead but appearing on earth at a different time.

Rama Himself will guide you or He will send His representative. The representative has the same interest; in this way they are one with God. At the same time, they are different. They are a separate personality, never to become God. This representative, known as the guru, gives the same advice as Rama - worship in devotion. The representative gives hints for success tailored to the time and circumstance.

[Lord Rama]In this age the most potent method of worship is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This chanting takes care of hearing too, which is even easier. Just hear about God, learn about His qualities, appreciate His kindness, marvel at His transcendental beauty, study His interactions with the devotees - in this way get rid of kama once and for all. Since the nature of the desire changes to wanting to serve and please God, the kama merges into bhakti, which is pure and the source of all bliss.

In Closing:

At every time and hour,

Kama everything to devour.


Though desire and lust in name,

Since to exploit both the same.


By proper direction the turn make,

And path towards purification take.


Kama into bhakti eventually to merge,

By guru’s guidance not to diverge.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Always Room For You

[Rama's hand]“If a traveler comes in front of you, you give them the proper direction to go, right or left. In the same way, if you approach Shri Rama, He will give you the right direction, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 81)

sanamukha āvata pathika jyōṁ di'ēm̐ dāhinō bāma |
taisō'i hōta su āpa kō tyōṁ hī tulasī rāma ||81||

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You’re at a concert. It’s an event you’ve been anticipating for months. You prepared so well that you ended up getting to the show very early. You were one of the first people they let in. As it is a general admission show, it’s anything goes as far as seating. You can get up all the way in the front if you choose. Sure enough, that’s what happened.

The issue is that others want to get in the front, too. Therefore people are pushing from behind. You’re holding your ground, though. There is another issue. In addition to the people pushing, there are those who are already at the front and want to make room for someone they know. You’re in a tough position since if you allow anyone else, you compromise your comfort. It gets especially difficult when the person next to you is a father who wants to make room for their son. It’s not an easy choice. You could either hold firm or give in. Giving in means introducing a little discomfort, but also giving the chance of a lifetime to someone else.

Material life is this way: limited. Only one person can land the job vacancy in the company. Only a few students get into the prestigious university. Only one team can be the champion each year. As soon as the post gets filled, all others are automatically excluded. “Better luck next time,” is the phrase of consolation. In addition to being limited, everything is temporary. The Bhagavad-gita touches on both, using the Sanskrit description of duhkhalayam and ashashvatam.

mām upetya punar janma

duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam

nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ

saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ

“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)

The spiritual is different. It is ever-expanding. One minus one can equal one in the spiritual world. We can’t understand this because our experience to date says otherwise. Of course, this is a limitation of the temporary mind. The mind is part of the subtle body, with the other two aspects being the intelligence and the false ego. The gross elements are earth, water, fire, air and ether. None of these eight elements represents us. They can help us in regaining our original form, however. That svarupa is servant of God, through and through.

We can use our intelligence to study the comparison made by Goswami Tulsidas above. He says that if you approach Shri Rama, the personal God, then the Lord will make room for you. The approach must be in devotion and the desire must be to walk with Him. He already has eternally liberated associates. Narada Muni travels the three worlds spreading the message of divine love, bhakti-yoga. Rama cannot get rid of Lakshmana, His younger brother, or Sita Devi, His wife. Neither would He want any of these people to leave Him, as they are so dear to Him.

Despite having such good company already, the Supreme Lord never prohibits anyone from joining His eternal, transcendental pastimes. Tulsidas compares it to meeting someone on the road. In his time there was no travel by automobile. As a sannyasi, he would travel by foot. Therefore it was common for him to come across people on the road, pilgrims traveling to holy spots. If a person came to him on the street, he would let them pass from either the right or left side. He wouldn’t stop them. If they wanted to accompany him on the road, he would allow them to follow on either the right or the left.

Tulsidas says that Shri Rama is the same way. The Lord does not block off access to someone who approaches Him. The key is to make the approach. The secret is to find the road on which the Supreme Lord travels. That road is love and devotion. In no other path is the personal God always there, granting His causeless mercy. In meditational yoga He remains unmanifest as the Supersoul in the heart. In study of Vedanta philosophy He is merely a concept, the impersonal Brahman. In atheism He is seen only in His material nature, which changes through the all-devouring enemy known as time.

[Lord Rama]In bhakti He arrives in full, showing His transcendental features. He shows Himself as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, who roams the sacred land of Vrindavana. He gives the aura of opulence through His four-handed form of Vishnu. He upholds righteousness and protects the innocent brahmanas as Shri Rama, the king of Ayodhya. That king is very dear to Tulsidas, who is kind enough to show others the way to find the supreme shelter.

In Closing:

The path of devotion just find,

To remove tensions from mind.


Like directions to traveler giving,

With God by your side to be living.


Making the approach is key,

Then your real form just see.


Of personal God, devoted to Him,

Sharing with all, not a limited win.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Five Reasons The Perfect Yogi Meditates On Krishna

[Krishna and Yashoda]“He incarnates in different forms such as Rama, Narasimha, Varaha and Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He descends like a human being, as the son of Mother Yashoda, and He is known as Krishna, Govinda and Vasudeva. He is the perfect child, husband, friend and master, and He is full with all opulences and transcendental qualities. If one remains fully conscious of these features of the Lord, he is called the highest yogi.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.47 Purport)

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Yoga is the linking of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. Real yoga is difficult to accomplish; it is not meant to be a one-hour class attended in the morning, mixed in with the hustle and bustle of material life. Not that such yoga is lacking in benefits; any step made towards purifying consciousness is a positive move towards fulfilling the destiny of the valuable human birth.

But real yoga is beyond gymnastics. It has residual health benefits for sure, as the aim is to remove the influence of the temporary body. Every living being is spirit soul at the core. They may have different coverings, and thereby different tendencies, but this doesn’t mean that those tendencies define them. We see that people of a certain race look a certain way. We see that people from a particular region of a country have a certain behavior. Yet this doesn’t mean that all people of a race and all people of a region are the same. The soul is the same in quality, and it can appear in any species and in any region. Therefore the external features are temporary and not permanently accurate for identification purposes.

tapasvibhyo 'dhiko yogī

jñānibhyo 'pi mato 'dhikaḥ

karmibhyaś cādhiko yogī

tasmād yogī bhavārjuna

“A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.46)

[yogi]In the Bhagavad-gita the yogi gets high praise by the most praiseworthy person, Shri Krishna. The Supreme Lord says that the yogi is superior to the ascetic. This makes sense because the rewards from undergoing austerities for the purpose of elevation to the higher planets are limiting. We hear of the many fasting days in a specific religion, and they are kinds of austerity. With this voluntarily accepted suffering, there is the benefit of pious credits accumulated for the afterlife.

The yogi is superior to the empiricist, known as the jnani. This is because knowledge is also limiting. I may know how to build a car engine from scratch, but unless I actually do something with that knowledge, it is more or less for vanity’s sake. The yogi is also superior to the fruitive worker, as the results to action are temporary.

But Krishna makes an additional stipulation. He says that of all yogis, one who worships Him and abides in Him is the best. Is there any other kind of yoga? Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He can be realized in different ways; some of them reveal Krishna more directly than others. There is the light of transcendence known as Brahman or the brahmajyoti. This is the destination for the jnana-yogis. There is the expansion of the Supersoul, which resides within every heart. This is the object of meditation for the mystic yogis.

By saying that the best yogi meditates on Him, Krishna is referring to Himself, the person, or one of His personal incarnations. In addition to connecting with the full representation of God, superior to that of Supersoul, there are specific features that make this style of meditation most beneficial.

1. He is the perfect child.

[Krishna stealing butter]Though attempting to get beyond the dualities of heat and cold, birth and death, childhood and adulthood, the yogi can still find these features in their object of meditation. The idea is that childhood can exist in a spiritual way. This is shown in Krishna’s time spent in the farm community of Vrindavana. God the person descended there some five thousand years ago and gave pleasure to everyone. He was mild when necessary, naughty at times, and always endearing. He was known as the butter thief, and this delighted everyone.

2. He is the perfect husband.

[Krishna and Satyabhama]The word for husband in Sanskrit is “pati.” This also means “lord” and “protector.” The wife is the dependent of the husband, and in God you get the greatest protector for the dependents. Since He is almighty and unlimited, He is not forced to limit Himself to only one wife. During His time on earth, Krishna acted as the ideal husband for more than 16,000 wives. They all renounced everything and accepted only Him as their husband. He never refuses His devotees; this includes their specific mood of worship. Krishna is such a perfect husband that one time He travelled all the way to the heavenly planets simply to get a flower that His wife desired.

“Krishna had experienced that when Rukmini was offered a parijata flower by Narada Muni, Satyabhama had become envious of her co-wife and had immediately demanded a similar flower from Krishna. In fact, she could not be pacified until she was promised the whole tree. That was actually done by Krishna; the tree was brought down to the earth planet from the heavenly kingdom.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 5)

3. He is the perfect friend.

[Krishna eating lunch with friends]There is the saying that a friend in need is a friend indeed. The cowherd boys in Vrindavana were often in need due to fiends invading from the nearby town of Mathura. These people came to attack with deadly force, and they were looking for Krishna. Whenever the friends were in need, they relied on the son of Yashoda and Nanda. He saved them every time. When they weren’t in danger, they enjoyed roaming the fields during the day with Him. They would take lunch together, tend to the calves, and play various games.

4. He is the perfect master.

Though Krishna was great friends with His cousin Arjuna, when the time came for giving guidance He did not hesitate. Arjuna needed someone to purge his doubts over a very important matter. Krishna was there with him, guiding his chariot on the battlefield. Krishna’s teachings to Arjuna became famously known as the Bhagavad-gita, in which the explanation of real yoga is found. Krishna removed Arjuna’s doubts because He is the original spiritual master, the guru of the universe.

5. He is full with all opulences and transcendental qualities.

The yogi concentrates on the Supersoul within the heart, which they initially think is lacking form. After all, I can’t see the soul inside of me or the soul inside of you. How, then, can I see the Supersoul? But in fact we know from Vedic teachings that the Supersoul has the form of Lord Vishnu, which is beautiful and four-handed.

[Lord Krishna]Shri Krishna is the superior object of meditation for the yogi because they can better perceive the transcendental form of God through Him. They can realize His opulences, which are unlimited. Krishna has every great feature you can imagine. He has every amazing quality, exhibited across all times and all spaces. Thus the yogi never runs out of things to contemplate, and from their fixed concentration they achieve the rare benediction of uninterrupted love and devotion to God. They reach the pinnacle of yoga practice and never return to the cycle of birth and death.

In Closing:

Seeing Krishna best yogi is He,

All Lord’s opulences in full to see.


How as son He is the best,

Protecting one wife and all the rest.


For the cowherd boys in fear living,

Protection from demons to them giving.


Yogi’s concentration to break never,

Can contemplate Lord’s features forever.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Checkpoints In Yoga

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Factually, bhakti-yoga is the ultimate goal, but to analyze bhakti-yoga minutely one has to understand these other yogas. The yogi who is progressive is therefore on the true path of eternal good fortune. One who sticks to a particular point and does not make further progress is called by that particular name: karma-yogi, jnana-yogi or dhyana-yogi, raja-yogi, hatha-yogi, etc.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.47 Purport)

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Question: Why are there so many different yogas? Are they all the same? Do not all paths lead to the same destination?

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that real yoga is bhakti-yoga. This is due to the nature of the two objects being joined. The literal definition of yoga is “union.” It refers to the linking of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. Each side has its respective properties, and when one is aware of them it is easy to see how bhakti-yoga is the only valid definition. The prefix “bhakti” is applied only for the understanding of the individual soul who is temporarily in a state of ignorance due to mixing with conditioned life.

[marathon]The other prefixes represent checkpoints, progress markers if you will. If running a marathon, it’s nice to know how far along you are. The goal is the same: to reach the end. The participant has to run 26.2 miles to complete the race. It doesn’t really matter if you’ve run one mile or ten. In both cases the race is still incomplete. At the same time, anyone who is making progress is still considered a valid participant. I am still taking part in the race, even if I have not finished.

Another comparison is to look at the different belts awarded in martial arts. Black belt is the highest, but it is not the point at which the student starts. The goal is to be expert in defending using the particular art in question. The person with a lower belt is just as much a participant as one with the black belt. Yet the black belt represents perfection; the distinctions still serve a purpose.

[black belt karate]The individual soul is unbreakable. There is something called shatterproof glass. There is the bulletproof vest. These things are highly resistant to blows and thus it seems like they can’t be destroyed. Still, anything that is part of the material creation is subject to destruction. The lone exception is the spirit soul. What we see at death is simply the passing of the individual, who is soul. They can never be destroyed.

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 travels through the various species, the coming together of the elements in the creation, their maintenance and eventual dissolution - these are managed by a higher soul. This soul is singular, but it exists in every single living thing. The individual soul is different; its influence is limited to the local sphere. Therefore I can’t tell what you are thinking and you can’t tell what I’m thinking. Perhaps through past experiences we can guess. Maybe through advancement in mysticism, I can enter your mind and get a peek. But I can never be inside of every single mind. Only the Supersoul can do this.

Yoga is the meeting of these two amazing entities. Both are similar in quality in that they cannot be destroyed. They are both knowledgeable and blissful as well. Aside from one being localized and one all-pervading, the other notable distinction is in the quantitative value of the inherent qualities. The Supreme Soul is always full of knowledge, while the individual can sometimes have its knowledge covered up. The same goes for blissfulness.

Due to this potential for being covered up, we see the different yogas in material life. Mind you, to even take up yoga in earnest is rare. The material nature has such a strong influence that the default mindset is to live like the animal. Eat, drink and be merry – the actual meaning to this phrase is “live like the animal, where you perpetually remain in the dark about your true nature.”

When we analyze yoga minutely, we get the different prefixes. At the beginning, there is karma-yoga. This is trying to unite with the Supreme Soul through work. Basically, you do things to maintain the body, but you don’t get attached to the results. We can think of it like going to work every day but not worrying so much about how much money is earned. Instead of focusing your mind on what things you will buy with your money, you’re more concerned about advancing in consciousness.

[Prabhupada books]When there is an increase in knowledge and renunciation, jnana-yoga has been reached. Here you study the aforementioned qualities of the two kinds of soul and you get further detached from the animal way of life. You’re living spiritually and trying to think spiritually also. You’re doing this for the same purpose: uniting with the Supreme Soul.

When you increase your meditation by physical means, you’re in ashtanga-yoga. Here you are doing specific exercises to eliminate the influence of the body. You’re not killing yourself. You’re practicing a subtle technique that allows you to maintain your body but also eliminate its influence in degrading your consciousness. The exercise system of yoga generally practiced today is rooted in ashtanga-yoga, but since the goal is not the Supersoul it is not part of this progressive system.

Bhakti-yoga is the culminating stage. The notable distinction here is the recognition of God the person. The Supersoul is but an expansion of the original Personality of Godhead. The sign of the presence of bhakti-yoga is the absence of the conditions in the preceding steps. For example, there is no desire to specifically advance through renouncing the fruits to action. There is no focus on an objective to increase in knowledge or remove the effects of the material body.

[Radha and Krishna]Pure bhakti-yoga is unmotivated and uninterrupted. When looking at the example of Shrimati Radharani, we see that God Himself is incapable of stopping the love and affection flowing from the pure devotee. Bhakti-yoga can be attempted right at the outset, and based on the impurities present, one is considered to be at a specific checkpoint. The goal is always the same, even if the person practicing yoga is not aware of it.

In Closing:

Yoga for connecting with the one,

For progression through many paths done.


But representing just a checkpoint is each,

Turning to bhakti when destination to reach.


Devotion yoga’s definition true,

To be with God meant are me and you.


So strong that Supreme Lord can’t repay,

In purity Radharani showing the way.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Repeat Opportunities

[Radharani holding flower garland]“By the grace of the Lord the transcendentalist gets repeated opportunities for complete perfection in Krishna consciousness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.43 Purport)

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Is the door to the spiritual world ever permanently closed? If you’ve been against the Supreme Personality of Godhead for a long time, longer than you can remember, does it mean that the path towards transcendence is permanently hidden from your view? Indeed, with the truth of reincarnation, we know that we have spent countless lifetimes forgetting our eternal engagement of devotional service, the true route to happiness. Yet as promised in the Bhagavad-gita, even with the slate seemingly wiped clean at the time of rebirth, any effort made previously doesn’t go to waste.

tatra taṁ buddhi-saṁyogaṁ

labhate paurva-dehikam

yatate ca tato bhūyaḥ

saṁsiddhau kuru-nandana

“On taking such a birth, he again revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success, O son of Kuru.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.43)

Imagine this situation. You’re in high school. It is your senior year; you’re on the verge of graduating. On the morning announcements one day the principal gives details about a scholarship program available from local benefactors and groups. All that’s required of the students is to fill out a form. He puts emphasis on the fact that the form must be submitted by a certain date, which is a few weeks in the future.

You seem interested enough, as your grades are pretty high. You figure it’s at least worth a shot. For this example, we’ll say that the setting is a time when smartphones haven’t been invented yet. You can’t put a reminder in your calendar app to help you remember when to submit the form.

A week goes by and you still haven’t done anything. You figure the form is simple enough to fill out. But then you get sick. So you miss school for a few days recovering. When you get back to school at the end of the week, you find out that you missed the deadline for the scholarship entry by a day. You scramble to fill out the form and bring it to the main office. They tell you, “Sorry, but the deadline has passed. There is nothing we can do.”

[olympic medals podium]In the material world there are no second chances in so many areas. Though the world is described as temporary and miserable, pursuits for temporary rewards bring finite ends. Only one person can win the gold medal in an individual event at the Olympics. As soon as the competition is over, so is the chance for winning. That chance will never come again. There may be another Olympics, but the event in that particular year is gone forever.

With the example of the scholarships, there is no leniency offered by the school. The same goes for failing a class, messing up at work, breaking the law, and forgetting to do important things. Yet the Supreme Lord is so compassionate that no matter how much you mess up, He keeps the door to the spiritual world open.

Likely the greatest misfortune is to take up spiritual life in earnest and not complete everything by the time of death. After death there is birth. This is how the soul travels within the time continuum. The soul always exists. To be a soul means to remain in existence eternally. If eternality, knowledge and bliss are missing, the object can’t be a soul.

Yet we know from our own life that at the time of birth there is hardly anything there. The infant can’t even feed itself. How is it going to take up spiritual life again? If it previously found the shelter of the lotus feet of the all-attractive Krishna, how is it going to search out for it again?

The answer is that Krishna revives the divine consciousness, bringing the individual to the same point from which they left off. No one else is this kind. This shows that Krishna stays connected to us through lifetime after lifetime. When our dear ones depart this world, we have no way of connecting with them anymore. At least this is how it seems, but there is a way. The Supreme Lord is connected to every person, and He is capable of doing anything. Only with Krishna is there connection through different bodies and different times.

The reawakening of the divine consciousness is facilitated through the expansion of the Supersoul. This is God’s feature of the all-pervading witness. Time and space limit our abilities and achievements, but God is above both of them. He connects us to the past by remembering our previous efforts in devotional service. He travels through space by remaining with us in past, present and future.

nehābhikrama-nāśo 'sti

pratyavāyo na vidyate

sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya

trāyate mahato bhayāt

“In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.40)

[Lord Krishna]This kindness is all the more reason to take up bhakti-yoga. There is always a chance to reconnect with the Divine, but in this valuable human species the opportunity is never better. Even a little effort made along this path can save one from the greatest danger.

In Closing:

Scholarship program with deadline announced,

But missed due to illness pronounced.


A second chance not to get,

Hopes of award better forget.


Material world with this problem so,

But different with Supreme Krishna know.


Always remaining open that door,

Bhakti’s progress never reversed for sure.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Stopping Four Things

[birth, old age, disease and death]“In Bhagavad-gita the Lord points out that a person who is serious about advancement in spiritual consciousness should always consider the four pangs of birth, death, disease and old age. The materialist advances in many ways, but he is unable to stop these four principles of suffering inherent in material existence.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.31.23 Purport)

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  • “The car is making a weird noise. It happens when you’re sitting idle, like at a stoplight. When you drive, it’s okay. Everything else seems to be alright. Accompanying this noise is shaking. If I have the air conditioning on, then the car might even stop altogether. We need to get this fixed. That noise has to stop.”
  • “The roof has a leak. We noticed it last night, while it was raining. We were able to place buckets on the floor to collect the water, but that is only a short-term solution. The more time goes by, the bigger the leak will get. We need to stop it from getting worse. Please call a roofing expert as soon as possible.”
  • “The storage room in the house is getting too cluttered. We need to empty it out. There are so many things in there that we don’t need. I can’t even make heads or tails out of what is already there. It’s a giant mess. We also have to stop putting new things in there. This will be a time-consuming task, but it will be worth the effort.”

These are but a few examples of the tasks in daily life meant to stop things that we don’t like. The human mind seems like it is too consumed each day with responsibilities. The burden never ends, for as soon as you fix one problem, another arises. The Bhagavad-gita mentions four bigger problems which should take higher priority.

Here is an interesting question to answer. Does starting a new business stop birth, old age, disease and death? Seems like a weird thing to ask, for who actually thinks of stopping these four things? There is the saying that only two things in life are guaranteed: death and taxes. No matter how much you complain about them, taxes will always be there. You can try to lobby the government to lower them, but in a democracy the easiest way to get elected is to promise to give away money. The largesse must have a funding source; hence the increased tax burden.

Death is also assured. There is nothing we can do about it. As a coping mechanism, the common mentality is to enjoy as much as possible, keeping the bad aspects of life out of the mind. Why worry so much over death when it is bound to happen? Why not buy a new car instead? Why not start a new business to feed your passion?

With respect to the four miserable aspects of life mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita, there is a way to stop them going forward. Although death will happen in this life for sure, it doesn’t have to happen again in the future. That future death is paired with the subsequent birth. The next guaranteed death arrives through old age and disease. As soon as there is birth there is death, and in between there will be old age and disease.

jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur

dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca

tasmād aparihārye 'rthe

na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi

“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)

As all the miseries of life come after birth, the best way to stop them is to prevent the next birth. This can happen through consciousness, as whatever state of mind we have at the time of death that state we attain in the next life without fail. This is also mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita.

yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ

tyajaty ante kalevaram

taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya

sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ

“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)

This truth applies to all living things. Shri Krishna does not say that only the Hindus go through this reincarnation. The process of old age is one kind of evidence for reincarnation right now. The spirit soul is the constant, while what it assumes as a covering changes as time winds.

[birth, old age, disease and death]Nobody prefers old age and nobody wants to get a disease. Yet these happen as soon as there is birth. The wise person tries to end birth and death by being completely spiritually conscious at the time of death. The way to do that is to not be focused on the temporary body at all. The common misconception here is that being spiritual means completely ignoring daily activities. If you are spiritual then how can you work? How can you do normal things and still have a pure consciousness?

There is a concept known as yukta-vairagya. Yukta is linking and vairagya is renouncing. Basically you act to maintain the body, but you remain renounced at the same time. As an example, just because a car is a product of the material nature, you don’t reject it outright. If you can use it to advance your consciousness of the spiritual, you do. How is this possible? Well, you can drive your car to a place that teaches about the spirit soul. Just as we drive the car to the supermarket to feed ourselves, we can use it to feed our knowledge of the spiritual side of life.

anta-kāle ca mām eva

smaran muktvā kalevaram

yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ

yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ

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

[Lord Krishna]Future birth and death stop for one who is conscious of Krishna at the time of death. This is one of the most important lessons to take from the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna is the source of the material and spiritual worlds. It is through His magic that the material nature operates. That nature doesn’t have to be our home forever. One who makes it a priority to be conscious of Krishna puts an end to the four biggest problems in life.

In Closing:

Mind riddled with daily chores,

But bigger problems of count four.


Old age, disease, death and birth,

Wise person giving these priority first.


Attachment to the material release,

But not from using objects cease.


Yukta-vairagya, to Krishna be devoted,

Then after death to His nature promoted.