Saturday, July 23, 2016

Keeping Attention To Avoid A Wasted Effort

[Shri Hanuman]“O Devi, by my good fortune my passing over the ocean has not gone in vain. By my good fortune I shall get this fame of having had your vision.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.78)

diṣṭyā hi na mama vyartham devi sāgara langhanam |
prāpsyāmi aham idam diṣṭyā tvat darśana kṛtam yaśaḥ ||

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In the material world there is danger at every step. The leaders of a nation get asked the question, “Is the country safe?” For maintaining high poll numbers, the answer has to be in the affirmative. For the challengers in the upcoming election, the answer is the opposite. After all, if the current officeholders were doing everything right, why even have an election?

“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda or the giver of mukti, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf's hoofprint. Param padam, or the place where there are no material miseries, or Vaikuntha, is his goal, not the place where there is danger in every step of life.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.14.58)

The honest answer is that no one is truly safe. And this is not necessarily the fault of government. When there is birth, death must follow. It is not guaranteed that the end of life will happen after a certain number of years. Death can strike at any moment. In Kali Yuga, even the child in the womb gets attacked by a knife.

Death is the destruction of the material body. As time is the great subduing agent, it is synonymous with death. The Sanskrit word is the same for both: kala. There is destruction of the body, leading to the exit of the individual soul for another body, and there are destructions within the time spent on earth.

It is satisfying to work hard at something and see it through to the end. If you build a house with your own hands, you feel a sense of accomplishment upon conclusion. Then there is remembrance to consider. You don’t want all that work to go to waste. You want the house protected. You want to make sure it stays up for a very long time.

The general rule is that the concern is linearly related; the more difficult the work, the more strong the desire to maintain the results to that work. We can only imagine what Shri Hanuman must have been feeling, then. He did the most amazing thing in leaping over an ocean. The journey was around eight hundred miles in length. He accomplished this through properly utilizing the siddhi of yoga known as mahima. Though in the body of a forest dweller, similar to the monkey species, Hanuman one time became bigger than the biggest. He did this to succeed in the mission to find the wife of Shri Rama.

Hanuman’s feat was so amazing that many years later Bhima wanted to see it. Bhima was also an offspring of the wind-god, making him a brother to Hanuman. Meeting the famed servant of Shri Rama on a mountain, Bhima repeatedly requested Hanuman to again show that form, to which Hanuman finally obliged.

In the verse quoted above from the Ramayana, Hanuman acknowledges that it was by his good fortune the crossing of the ocean would not go in vain. The reason was that he had the darshana, or vision, of Sita Devi. He found Rama’s wife. Hanuman succeeded in the mission. He did not do that amazing thing for nothing.

Since he was engaged in devotional service, the protection of the work was guaranteed. No effort made in support of the Supreme Lord ever goes in vain. If I spent an hour chanting His names today, I will not lose the benefit accrued from that hour. Even if I immediately go back into forgetfulness of God afterwards, that time spent in remembrance will pay dividends at some point.

[Shri Hanuman]The same cannot be said of any material activity. Maybe there are residual benefits in terms of maturity and increase in knowledge, but then at the time of death everything gets erased. For the yogi in bhakti, the afterlife is not an issue. The ideal conditions for practicing the same yoga will be there in the next life. In the special case of Shri Hanuman, he remains on earth for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be told. This is the boon he asked directly from the Supreme Lord. Just as Hanuman’s leap over the ocean did not go in vain, so will any honor paid to the dearest servant of Sita and Rama bring lasting benefits to the individual.

In Closing:

Hanuman like wind coursing over water vast,

Benefits of honoring him continuing to last.


Since an eye on wasted effort kept,

That not for nothing over ocean leapt.


From seeing Rama’s wife of Sita the name,

Success in the mission to that servant came.


No effort in bhakti ever to go in vain,

Life of devotion Lord Himself to sustain.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Hanuman Is Humility

[Shri Hanuman]“By my good fortune I shall be able to remove the grief of the army of monkeys who were lamenting, telling them of my having found you.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.77)

diṣṭyā aham hari sainyānām tvan nāśam anuśocatām |
apaneṣyāmi samtāpam tava abhigama śaṃsanāt ||

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All good qualities come to a person through devotional service, bhakti-yoga. A separate endeavor needn’t be made, as the material world is limiting. I may try to perfect a certain shot using a billiards cue, but it is not guaranteed that my shot will be perfect each time. There are outside conditions to factor. The felt used on the table, the moisture in the air, the lighting in the room - any of these things can get in the way of my preparation.

Humility is a good trait to possess since it is rooted in intelligence. False humility is showing off to people that you don’t think much of yourself, when on the inside you really do. This is because humility garners more attention than excessive pride. The intelligent person realizes that so many other things had to fall into place in order for their desired outcome to manifest.

Nevertheless, there is still the effort put in. The effort is made with the desire to succeed. Fruitive activity is known as karma in Sanskrit. There are the accompanying fruits, known as phala. Karma-phala is the outcome manifesting from work. Obviously, the desire is to obtain fruits that are preferred and beneficial. If I work towards something and then achieve it, why should I not give myself some of the credit?

Excessive pride clashes with humility. Even if a person is knowledgeable about outside factors contributing to their success, there is the risk of being proud over humility. “Look at me. Just see how humble I am.” In a world of duality, where temporary gains get washed away by the onset of time, any particular quality or condition is difficult to maintain.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana we get an example of true humility which was not specifically sought. Shri Hanuman is the humble person, and he shows this quality in recounting his successful journey to Lanka to find Sita.

One way to appreciate this verse is to think of how it could have been said differently. Hanuman could have spoken the following:

“The monkeys will be so proud of my effort. Because of me they will be happy that our party succeeded in finding you, the beautiful and chaste wife of Shri Rama. Sugriva and Rama are lucky to have a heroic person like me leading the search party. How fortunate is the world that I came into it.”

Though this is bragging and shows hints of excessive pride, the words would have been mostly accurate. Hanuman is heroic. Any person is lucky to have his association. Hanuman is the best friend a person could ask for. In the case of the Supreme Lord Rama and His good friend, the monkey-king Sugriva, Hanuman’s association was through the role of servant. Hanuman carried out the requests of Rama and Sugriva.

He found Sita after a difficult and long journey to Lanka. Through meeting Sita he reached success. Now he says that it was his good fortune to remove the grief of the army of monkeys. They were waiting for him at the northern shore of the ocean. They could not cross over, though they knew someone had to. They could only stay there and wait for Hanuman to return. They hoped he would come back with good news.

Hanuman considers it a great fortune to relieve the grief of people who are concerned about pleasing Shri Rama. His association itself is a relief from the burning fire of a material existence. There is duplicity everywhere, as each person is competing to get ahead in life. Even the religious leaders are shown to be liars, cheaters and thieves, so who can be trusted?

[Shri Hanuman]Shri Hanuman is pure in his motives. He thinks only of Rama’s welfare. Rama is God in an incarnation form famously described in the epic Sanskrit work known as the Ramayana. Hanuman has more strength than any person can imagine. He has done more than the greatest heroes of history. He succeeded in a dangerous mission all by himself, and he never let it get to his head. He relieved Sita’s grief borne of separation from Rama. He would remove the worry of the monkeys that were his friends. In the present age of Kali he removes the doubt over the mission of life and the destination of the devoted soul. Through Hanuman’s example we see just how everything good manifests from devotion.

In Closing:

Shri Hanuman deserving to boast,

That servant of Rama heroic the most.


That over the vast ocean he flew,

And easily for battle form of his grew.


But actually humble always remaining,

Considered great fortune Sita’s vision attaining.


Always welfare of God and His friends thinking,

Hanuman the hero to rescue from despair sinking.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Choosing Your Form

[Shri Hanuman]“I have gone over this southern direction, wandering all by myself, capable of changing my form at will, desirous of finding you.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.76)

mayā iyam asahāyena caratā kāma rūpiṇā |
dakṣiṇā dig anukrāntā tvan mārga vicaya eṣiṇā ||

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Pretend that you had the ability to change your form at will. The Sanskrit equivalent of this ability is the kama-rupa siddhi. It is a perfection of yoga. Still, a proper understanding of the ancient eightfold system of mysticism is not required to carry out this hypothetical exercise. What if you could take any form you desired? What would you do next?

An obvious way to go is larger in size. Become seven feet tall. Have large, bulging muscles that enable you to overpower any aggressor. Yet there is an accompanying limitation. You’ll have trouble getting into a car. Seating on an airplane will be difficult. Others will be much smaller than you, and so they will naturally look at you in an odd way.

Another option is to go in the other direction. Become small. This way people will have a difficult time recognizing you. Smaller usually means quicker. It will be more difficult for others to catch you. You’ll be able to fit into small spaces, places where others cannot go.

Vedic philosophy teaches that the living entity is not their body. This is the foundational instruction in the discipline known as Vedanta. The conclusion of all conclusions starts with the basic difference between body and spirit. Knowledge of this difference carries an individual very far. It helps them to cope with loss, which is the full manifestation of the time factor effecting change.

The form on top of spirit is matter. More specifically, it is a collection of material elements. Earth, water, fire, air and ether. Every living thing in this world has these elements covering their individuality, which is the spirit soul. There are the subtle elements of mind, intelligence and ego also.

The gross form does not identify the individual, but spirit is not necessarily formless. Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that the eternal svarupa, or real form of the self, is servant of the Supreme Lord. The svarupa is Krishna-dasa. Krishna is one name for the Almighty. Just as He is not limited to one name, Krishna has many different manifestations.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana we see a person subtly referencing their svarupa. They are eternally a servant of God, and they actually carry out that service while in their body. As the service is to the Supreme Lord, the body and spirit merge together, i.e. the individual becomes completely spiritual.

Shri Hanuman possesses the kama-rupa siddhi of yoga. He can take any form he chooses. Whatever change he makes, the work done as a result is identical in nature. He changes his shape to facilitate what needs to be done to please Rama. Rama is the same Krishna. The two are one, the Supreme Lord. Hanuman’s eternal service is to Rama, while someone like Arjuna has the svarupa of servant to Krishna directly.

Here Hanuman is describing how he arrived in the presence of Sita Devi, who is Rama’s wife. He wandered in the southern direction, all by himself. No one was there to help. Hanuman changed his shape several times in order to fit the situation. He needed to be very large to cross over the ocean. He needed to be small to search through the city of Lanka undetected.

Now he has found Sita. The mission has been successful. From his example, we see that despite changes to the external form, the svarupa does not change. Hanuman is as much a servant of Sita and Rama while flying in the air as he is while searching the different palaces in Lanka. He is as much a servant while fighting with Rakshasas like Ravana as he is while blissfully hearing from the Ramayana.

[Hanuman reading Ramayana]Being pleased with his service, Sita and Rama provide for everything Hanuman needs. They do so for all the living entities when they are aware of their svarupa. Only a person who is already engaged in that service can reveal this vital information to others. Hanuman is the best person to consult for guidance in the journey through life, which is meant to culminate in pure love for the Supreme Lord and those associated with Him.

In Closing:

If ability to change shape in you,

Which direction, what would you do?


In greatness one option to go,

Also becoming smaller ever so.


The nature of activity the key,

Pleasure of Supreme Lord to see.


Hanuman that ability in searching or fighting,

His work always Sita and Rama delighting.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

From Limited To Limitless

[Shri Hanuman]“O Devi, being interested in the welfare of your valiant husband Rama, I arrived here alone, on the instructions of Sugriva.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.75)

tasya vīryavato devi bhartuḥ tava hite rataḥ |
aham ekaḥ tu samprāptaḥ sugrīva vacanāt iha ||

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Has Shri Hanuman just revealed a flaw? He should know better, after all. He is well versed in the Vedas. He is able to both remember the words and make proper use of them. He can construct perfect Sanskrit on the fly. Sanskrit is no easy language; it is the preferred choice for the gods. Hence the script it uses is known as Devanagari, which means “city of the gods.”

“One cannot speak this way without having been well-trained in the Rig Veda, memorized the Yajur Veda, and thoroughly understood the Sama Veda.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana about Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.28)

Shri Rama was impressed in the first meeting with Hanuman. The chief minister to the Vanara Sugriva was able to glorify both Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana perfectly. Hanuman did not stutter. He did not pause for dramatic effect or to look for the proper words. The Sanskrit flowed from Hanuman without interruption, and the content was beautiful. It had to be since it accurately described the Supreme Lord and the person who serves Him without fail for all of eternity.

Since Hanuman is connected to Rama, it would make sense for him to be very intelligent. There are many aspects to that intelligence, with a fundamental one relating to the identity of living entities. More specifically, that every living thing is a spirit soul. There is no qualification on the soul. It is not that there are human souls and animal souls. Spirit is spirit. The only difference is between individual spirit, jivatma, and supreme spirit, Paramatma.

There is qualification in terms of body type. The human being has a high potential for intelligence. The animals lack this potential. Nevertheless, the animal is still a living thing. It has a spiritual spark within that animates it. Movement itself doesn’t have to be present to indicate life. The trees are living things, but they do not move. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending are the four basic signs of life, but any kind of autonomous growth, where the body changes, indicates the presence of a combination of spirit and matter.

As Hanuman knows about the presence of the soul, by extension he should be interested in the welfare of all souls. Yet in the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, it looks like the great servant who crossed the ocean in search of Rama’s wife Sita has a limited interest. The Sanskrit words are bhartu tava hite ratah. This means “interested in the welfare of your husband.” While that is very nice, why isn’t Hanuman interested in the welfare of everyone? Indeed, this is how Sita once described her husband Rama.

“My husband Rama is famous throughout the world. He is pure, truthful, and very gentle. He is mighty-armed, has wide eyes, and is always busy working for the welfare of all living beings [sarva-bhuta-hite-ratah].” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.11)

Rama is God Himself, so it makes sense that He would have this interest. Sita’s description is sufficient for proving that Hanuman is intelligent. If you serve the person who is interested in the welfare of all creatures, then by extension you have the same interest. When the situation is reversed, the same property is not there. For instance, if my interest is focused only on my family, it doesn’t mean other families benefit. If I only care about my nation, what about other nations? Are they not populated with people? Is not everyone in this world struggling with the same things, namely attachment and separation, happiness and sadness, birth and death?

[Shri Hanuman]Rama possesses great heroism, viryavatah. He is not afraid of anyone. By serving the heroic one, Hanuman is doing the best service for his fellow man. The supposedly limited focus of service to the Supreme Lord automatically extends limitless help. The longevity of the Ramayana is itself proof. People still know Hanuman to this day because of that one brief period in history. He helped Rama so much that he became forever dear to both Rama and His wife Sita. Their favor is all that is needed to be successful in life. Through that favor Hanuman continues to rescue fallen souls by showing the example that life is meant to be spent in devotional service, bhakti-yoga. That service can be practiced in any condition of life, in any type of body.

In Closing:

Since in Rama’s welfare interested,

Not Hanuman’s scope limited?


Why not for all creatures to see,

That best situated they be?


Service to Supreme Lord actually,

Benefit to others automatically.


Rama caring for creatures every single one,

In bhakti-yoga like Hanuman there is none.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Just Want To Throw My Phone Away

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Human civilization is meant for purifying the senses, and objects of sense satisfaction should be supplied as much as absolutely required, but not for aggravating artificial sensory needs. Food, shelter, defense and sense gratification are all needs in material existence. Otherwise, in his pure, uncontaminated state of original life, the living entity has no such needs. The needs are therefore artificial, and in the pure state of life there are no such needs.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.5.30 Purport)

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“I’ve had it. I can’t take it anymore. I’m checking this thing night and day. It’s like I can’t live without it. Don’t you dare let the battery run down. Then you’re really in trouble. Forget sleeping well at night. Forget having perfect vision. No, I must be attached to this thing.

“Whenever I lie down to take some rest, it beeps. There is a message from someone. When I’m at peace and really into a good book, it rings. There is never good news on the other end. I think life was much more peaceful when I didn’t have this thing. I tell you, sometimes I just want to throw my phone away.”

Such frustrations are not uncommon in the modern day. For years man lived without a smartphone. They didn’t carry any electronic devices on their person. Yet somehow they managed to survive. There is the famous saying that for every convenience there is an inconvenience. Today you can call someone to let them know your plane has landed. You don’t have to wander around aimlessly in the airport. You can reach someone in times of emergency.

By the same token, you can be bothered at any moment. There is another object of attachment, something which fails to bring lasting peace. This is the defect with progress. You can only progress from something if that something was imperfect in some way. Thus material progress is always imperfect.

The human form of life is meant for something much higher. There should be peace. After all, without peace there cannot be happiness. Peace means not worrying so much about things. It means not getting upset when something doesn’t go your way and not getting overly excited over something that won’t last very long.

nāsti buddhir ayuktasya

na cāyuktasya bhāvanā

na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir

aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham


“One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.66)

The thing to worry the most about is death. That is the loss of everything. It is an event with more serious consequences than the smartphone’s battery running out. It is worse than your favorite sports team losing the big game. It is complete loss, including relationships.

This event is guaranteed to happen, so rather than ignore the impending release from the body, why not find out why it happens to begin with? This is one of the first questions the genuine spiritual science answers. For the soul there is never birth nor death. The soul always exists. Nothing can be done to kill it. The objects to which we form attachments are temporary, having relevance only for the present lifetime.

Birth and death are like the rising and setting of the sun. They have no bearing on an existence. Yet the human birth is still important. There is the wakeup call known as athato-brahma-jijnasa. Inquire into the spiritual energy that is Brahman. Go beyond sense pleasures, which are available in abundance in the animal species. Indeed, their enjoyment is slightly more steady due to the lack of external pressures. The bird doesn’t worry about mortgage payments. The fish in the water does not realize that it is wet. The raccoon is not burdened by massive credit card debt.

The Brahman realized person neither hankers nor laments. In that position, they experience real peace. The pleasure is known as brahmananda. There is another step to go. There is pure devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Everything is sourced in Him. The material energy comes from Him, and so does the spiritual energy, of which we are a part. Since we have a choice in association, we living entities, known as jivas, are part of the marginal energy.

[Krishna's lotus feet]The conscious human being, through the grace of the Divine and His bona fide representative, can once again choose the spiritual energy for association. That is the only pathway to real peace. Then the individual can survive in any situation, as the present becomes just as good as the future. The self-interest, svartha, merges into the supreme interest, paramartha. An easy way to get a glimpse into that peace right now is through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Not the spiritual to feed,

Only to make artificial need.


Smartphone, to that survived prior,

Human meant for thinking higher.


Birth and death happening why?

To learn purpose of existence try.


Peace only in spiritual path real,

Chant holy names and right now feel.

Monday, July 18, 2016

What Does Impersonal Really Mean

[Krishna showing universal form]“Some way or other, one must try to reestablish one's forgotten relation with the Lord if one at all desires to gain real happiness in life, and to reclaim his natural unfettered condition. For the less intelligent beginners, meditation on the impersonal feature, the virat-rupa, or universal form of the Lord, will gradually qualify one to rise to personal contact.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.2.14 Purport)

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Friend1: Why is the universal form considered impersonal?

Friend2: Who told you that?

Friend1: Don’t play dumb. I know I’ve heard it described that way many times.

Friend2: What is the universal form?

Friend1: The virata-rupa. It’s what Krishna showed Arjuna on the battlefield. It’s one way to prove that Krishna is God the person.

Friend2: Did Krishna Himself turn into the virata-rupa? Did He have a change of bodies, sort of like Dr. David Banner turning into the Incredible Hulk?

[Krishna showing universal form]Friend1: Very funny. First off, the Hulk is green and Krishna is blue.

Friend2: A quick note on that. The exact word used to describe the complexion is shyama. This actually has several meanings. We usually take it to mean blue or dark blue. But it can be brown or green as well.

Friend1: Then how do we know for sure that Krishna’s body is blue?

Friend2: There are other comparisons used, like to the dark raincloud and the tamala tree. In one of the commentaries of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada it is said that sometimes Krishna comes in a green color.

“The shyama color is not exactly blackish. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura compares it to the color of the atasi flower. It is not that Lord Krishna Himself appears in a blackish color in all the Dvapara-yugas. In other Dvapara-yugas, previous to Lord Krishna’s appearance, the Supreme Lord appeared in a greenish body by His own personal expansion. This is mentioned in the Vishnu Purana, Hari-vamsha and Mahabharata.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 20.337 Purport)

[Shri Krishna]The complexion isn’t always the same in every appearance. This explains why sometimes Shri Rama is depicted to be green. The same shyama word is used in the Ramayana.

Friend1: Interesting. Anyway, the answer to your question is “no.” Though the virata-rupa is what Arjuna saw, Krishna was still there. He had not disappeared. We know this because Arjuna still talked to Him. He asked Krishna to then show His four-handed form of Narayana.

Friend2: Very good. So that is actually a way to know that the virata-rupa is impersonal. It wasn’t the form with which Arjuna interacted. Krishna was there the entire time.

Friend1: Okay, but what about Narayana? Since Krishna transformed into Narayana, does that mean Narayana is impersonal?

Friend2: We know that is not the case because Narayana has so many interactions with people. He is the object of worship when the mood is awe and reverence.

Friend1: I see. How else can I understand what impersonal really means, then?

Friend2: You can think of it like an abstract. Brahman is real, but it is more a perspective. It’s a way to view things that already exist. Brahman is the total energy. The sparks within that energy can also be called Brahman. There is a reason the interaction with the impersonal is known as Brahman realization and the interaction with Krishna bhakti-yoga.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: Let’s take a real life example to show the concept. Pretend there’s a politician I like. They are going to fix the country. They are going to take down the powerful, special interests. They are going to make the country great again.

Friend1: I like this example. You’ve basically described every popular politician in history. It’s the populist message.

[politician]Friend2: I’m glad you said that, because the next step in the example is to expand out. Let’s say that I realize other politicians are similar. They are in the business of getting votes. They have to watch what they say. They constantly travel. I soon learn to appreciate all politicians.

Friend1: That makes you a very rare person. Most politicians are despised.

Friend2: Expanding out further, I appreciate the election process. I love how democracy works. I take joy in knowing the various parliamentary procedures. I can explain to anyone how a bill becomes a law and the purpose of the courts.

Friend1: Okay, I understand. Where is this going?

Friend2: Don’t you see? It’s becoming more and more abstract. I started with a politician, an individual, and expanded the scope to a collection. It’s the same with Brahman. If you are Brahman realized, you experience what is known as brahmananda. This is the bliss of appreciating everything that exists. You understand the concept of duality, how both up and down are the same. Birth and death are really no different. The individual, the spiritual spark of Brahman, always exists. Nothing can be done to extinguish the soul.

Friend1: Under this model, wouldn’t the personal realization be inferior? You’re going back to a person after you’ve reached the abstract.

Friend2: That’s a good question. The personal realization is knowing that there is a source to the complete whole. The topmost point of elevation in Brahman realization is release from the cycle of birth and death. In realization of Bhagavan, who is God the person, there is interaction and engagement using a spiritual form. The body and soul become of the same nature. Impersonal means no interaction. Personal means different moods of devotion; constant variety without any of the negative effects and miseries with which we are at present accustomed.

Friend1: The impersonal is something that can be realized and the personal something more than that.

Friend2: Exactly. You can’t have devotion to Brahman. You can’t make Brahman happy. There is no interest that can be met, since it is just a collection. Bhagavan, who is also known as Krishna, gives you the Brahman realization automatically, if you are devoted to Him. Therefore the personal path is complete spiritual life.

In Closing:

Of impersonal getting meaning exact,

Start with single, move to abstract.


Like with certain politician that I like,

Understand others similar, expanding in sight.


To parliamentary procedures go,

And of the entire process know.


Impersonal something the same, but from Krishna coming,

Through bhakti more than Brahman realized becoming.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Five Ways The Vedas Handicap Success In Spiritual Life

[Four varnas]“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)

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cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ


tasya kartāram api māṁ

viddhy akartāram avyayam


There is a big game coming up. Everyone is talking about it. There is excitement to watch the event on television. The only issue is that you don’t follow this sport at all. You know nothing about it. To help you understand which team is better, you can look at the point spread. This is particularly relevant for gamblers. The person taking wagers places the line at a point where they can get a relatively equal amount of bets on either side. People who follow the sport can also help you get an idea on the nature of the teams, what to expect and the like.

Though these systems may help in predicting the outcome, there are no guarantees. A team that is heavily favored to win can lose. In the same way, the Vedas provide a sort of handicapping system for success in spiritual life. These are general tendencies, a way to predict who has a better chance at reaching the objective of the human life and who doesn’t.

1. The four varnas

The Sanskrit word varna means “color.” It is a designation. It also refers to an occupation. The four natural occupations, which are timeless and present in every society, are priest, administrator, businessman, and laborer. The designations are not artificially drawn. Each person has their natural tendency. Just as we say someone is a born leader, each person has certain gunas, or material qualities, that they assume at the time of birth.

[Four varnas]We can use the body of the human being for understanding the four varnas. The laborers are like the feet. The businessmen/producers are like the stomach. The administrators are the arms, as they are meant to protect everyone else. The priests are the brains. All the parts must work together for the body to function properly. Still, you could say that certain parts are more important. The brain is the most important, since without it the other parts wouldn’t know what to do.

The Vedas say that the brahmana is an advanced position. They have the best chance at understanding the spiritual science and advancing beyond that. The brahmana should be Brahman realized, which means that they should know the spiritual energy that is Brahman. They neither lament nor hanker. As you descend further in the classes, there is more ignorance, i.e. more focus on the temporary. When the consciousness is impure, it is harder to make advancement in spiritual life.

2. The four ashramas

In addition to the four varnas, there are four spiritual institutions. These are like phases of life. The idea is to build your way to full enlightenment by the time death arrives. Human life has no other purpose. If the aim were to enjoy the senses as much as possible, then the animal birth is preferable. The animal can enjoy without having to worry over so many responsibilities. The animal doesn’t need to keep an eye on dharma, or virtue, or worry about the future consequences to action, karma.

The first stage is student life. The pillar of this ashrama is celibacy. The second stage is married life, where a person earns a living but stays detached from sense gratification. The third stage is retirement, and the fourth complete renunciation. This last stage, known as sannyasa, is considered to be most ideal for succeeding in spiritual life. The brahmana-sannyasi, the renounced priest-like person, has the best opportunity to continue to stay focused on the spiritual energy. They are both learned and free of distractions. They have the highly coveted opulences of jnana and vairagya, which are knowledge and renunciation.

3. The stipulation of lower births

If you are born with the gunas of a laborer, or shudra, it is considered a low birth. Indeed, the same status is applied to the female body and birth as a merchant/businessman. Obviously a person having one of these body types would not like to hear such discrimination. Again, it should be remembered that the knowledge comes to us as a sort of handicapping system, not meant to denigrate.

māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya

ye 'pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ

striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās

te 'pi yānti parāṁ gatim


“O son of Pritha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth - women, vaishyas [merchants], as well as shudras [workers] - can approach the supreme destination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.32)

The idea is that in the female body it is more difficult to see the difference between body and spirit, to understand the conclusion of all conclusions, Vedanta philosophy. A person who works hard all day and doesn’t think about the purpose to their work is similarly disadvantaged. The same applies to the person chasing hard to earn a dollar.

4. The future of the unsuccessful yogi

Since there are varieties of living entities and different conditions of birth for the human being, not everyone is expected to reach full enlightenment in a single lifetime. There is no need to worry, as there can be progressive births. In the Bhagavad-gita, we learn the fate of the unsuccessful yogi.

prāpya puṇya-kṛtāṁ lokān

uṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ

śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe

yoga-bhraṣṭo 'bhijāyate


“The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.41)

They end up taking birth in a family of yogis or rich aristocracy. They continue from where they left off in the previous life. This means that progress along the path of true yoga does not vanish. By revealing the future of the unsuccessful yogi, we again see that certain circumstances are more conducive to spiritual life than others. The Sanskrit word used for rich aristocracy is shrimatam. The word shri means “opulence.” The idea is that the yogi finds a home where there is high culture. The family members are not struggling to survive, and they have some idea of spiritual life. In times past all the wealthy homes following Vedic culture would at least have a deity that was worshiped.

5. The call to surrender

Despite the best guesses made, time still has to operate. The Supreme Lord is Himself that time. This means that the greatest underdog can achieve victory. This has been shown many times in history. A person in the body of a Vanara, which is a monkey-like forest dweller, overcame tremendous obstacles to emerge successful in the mission to please the Supreme Lord. The people who are considered the embodiment of perfect devotion are simple village girls, the gopis of Vrindavana. It is not that only brahmanas and sannyasis are eligible for perfection. People who previously ate meat and were intoxicated on a regular basis can turn things around. There is always the opportunity to reform.

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)

[Shri Krishna]The way is to be completely conscious of God the person in surrender. This surrender is known as bhakti-yoga, and it cannot be checked. The handicapping system is a way to judge how far along someone is in a race. Nevertheless, until you reach the end, you haven’t won. The Supreme Lord guarantees to shelter those who surrender to Him. That surrender can take place in an instant, or it can take many lifetimes. The key is a combination of sincerity and an auspicious meeting with a spiritual master, who is God’s representative. Then even the great underdogs, who for so long have been under the spell of illusion, can emerge out of the darkness and into the light, to feel the bliss of unmotivated service to the Divine.

In Closing:

The occupational divisions four,

And ashramas advancement for.


Type of handicapping system giving,

For potential in spiritual life living.


Still victory not until reaching the end,

Through Krishna instantly to victory circle to send.


When of Lord thinking free from doubt.

From the bodily designation to come out.