Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Three Kinds Of Karma

[prasadam]“Actions that are performed in terms of one's prescribed duties, as mentioned in the revealed scriptures, are called karma. Actions that free one from the cycle of birth and death are called akarma. And actions that are performed through the misuse of one's freedom and that direct one to the lower life forms are called vikarma. Of these three types of action, that which frees one from the bondage to karma is preferred by intelligent men.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shri Ishopanishad, 2 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

“Karma. Isn’t that something Hindus believe in? Buddhists, too, I think. You behave bad in this life and you’re punished in the future. You get reborn as an ant or something. It sounds similar to the concept of going to hell for not believing in the savior. Do you get to move back up in the future? What exactly is karma?”

A word of Sanskrit origin, karma can mean different things based on the context. When discussing the path to follow in life for the human being, there are the accompanying terms of yoga and jnana. In the basic definition karma is work. Jnana is knowledge, and yoga is mysticism. Bhakti is also there. You can achieve enlightenment through study, through working with detachment, through physical exercise in mysticism, or even through devotion itself.

With respect to karma as a kind of work, there are technically three kinds. The wise aim for one version only, knowing it to be superior.

1. Vikarma

This is bad work. Think murder, theft, lies, cheating and the like. You don’t need to be a scholar to understand that stealing is bad. Children in school already have this understanding. There is the saying that a guilty conscience needs no accuser. The mature adult understands there is something wrong with taking something that doesn’t belong to you. What if the reverse occurred? Would the thief like it if someone stole what they took from someone else?

In terms of the future, vikarma is tied to regression. The Vedas describe the human birth to be the most auspicious. There is the aphorism, athato brahma-jijnasa. “Now is the time for enquiring into Brahman, the spiritual energy.” Implied is that in previous births the time was not right. The dog cannot make the inquiry. Neither can the tree. The first birth into the human body brings the potential, with the second birth, represented by initiation through a spiritual master, bringing the individual one step closer to completion of the goal.

By doing bad things you get bad results. That is vikarma. The opportunity to end the cycle of birth and death, which is real and not just some fantasy, is missed. The spirit soul is different from the body. Spirit is amazing. It cannot be killed. It never took birth. Matter is the opposite. It is dull and lifeless. It can do nothing on its own. Life comes from life. The individual soul is meant to have a spiritual body, which is possible through enlightenment.

2. Karma

The word by itself equates to prescribed duty. The idea is that if you follow the karma for your body type and situation, you will advance. Even within the human species there are variations. One person is stuck laboring all day in the fields. They don’t have much intelligence, but they work honestly and steadily. Another person studies shastra, or scripture. They know about the occupational duties of every kind of person. They are qualified to give advice to the entire society. If compared to the human body, the laborer class would be like the legs and the priestly class like the brain.

It is possible to advance from the laborer to the priest, but not in one lifetime. This is with respect to the qualities of the body inherited at the time of birth. It is not that a person born to a priest must automatically become one. As Shri Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita, the division of varna and ashrama, occupation and spiritual institution, is determined by guna and karma, which are material quality and work, respectively.

“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)

3. Akarma

The “a” prefix is a negation in Sanskrit. Akarma thus becomes “not work.” This is a little tricky to understand, however. Akarma doesn’t necessarily mean inaction. As Krishna also explains in the Gita, a wise person knows how there can be action in inaction and inaction in action.

“One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.18)

Akarma is what the wise prefer. Those who are engaged in bhakti-yoga, in the more mature stages, are working, but without future consequences. Their action is karma-free. Even their eating is in this category, as they partake only of remnants of sacrifice. Sacrifice is yajna, and it is a word synonymous with God the person.

“The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.13)

[prasadam plate]The question is how does a person work without having future consequences? The idea is to not be attached to the results. Vikarma is bad work, karma is prescribed work, and akarma is dedicating every action for the pleasure of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The classic example is Arjuna. On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, he was contemplating the akarma of giving up his weapons and retreating to the forest. Karma was to engage in the fight and win the heavenly planets and a higher position in the next life, regardless of outcome. Akarma was to listen to the instructions of Krishna, move ahead and fight with detachment, and always keep the Supreme Lord’s pleasure in mind. That was the route Arjuna chose, and it is the example for every person to follow, if they can.

In Closing:

Karma, the word having seen,

But what exactly to mean?

 

About rebirth as an ant,

Move higher then can’t?

 

Following duties the word plain,

Higher planets in afterlife to gain.

 

To lower species by vikarma work done,

Akarma for God, with consequences none.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What Does It Mean That The Supersoul Is Everywhere

[Krishna's lotus feet]“I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friend1: One of the more important teachings of Vedanta, which the Bhagavad-gita nicely summarizes, is the difference between the two souls.

Friend2: Which souls? Me and you?

Friend1: Jivatma and Paramatma.

Friend2: Did you know that atma can refer to the mind, the body, or the soul?

Friend1: I did. But in philosophical discussions the reference is usually to the soul.

Friend2: That which is distinct from the body. Spirit has consciousness. Matter does not.

Friend1: Jivatma is me and you, fragments of the total spiritual energy. Paramatma is the Supreme.

Friend2: Jivatma is at the local level. Paramatma is all-pervading.

Friend1: I’m glad you mentioned that last part. It’s what I wanted to discuss. What exactly does that mean?

Friend2: It’s pretty straightforward. Paramatma is everywhere. You and I are not. It’s impossible for us to be in two places at one time. Paramatma is a plenary expansion of God, the original and total spirit, but it is not divided. Paramatma is the same and its influence is everywhere.

“Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes and faces, and He hears everything. In this way the Supersoul exists.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.14)

Friend1: That’s difficult to conceptualize. You end up thinking of a single person whose body is stretched in every direction.

Friend2: Especially when you hear things like hands, legs, and eyes. That’s the complexity of God. If He were easy to understand, then He wouldn’t be so different from us.

Friend1: Alright, so the Supersoul is all-pervading. He is everywhere. Is there some proof?

Friend2: Of what? The Supersoul being in the heart of every living thing?

Friend1: Yes.

Friend2: Existence is itself proof. You can’t have a living thing without the Supersoul. You can’t have the results to action, either. Man proposes, God disposes. The proposal occurs at the local level, through the jivatma. The reward, which can be considered good or bad, comes about through the sanction of the Supersoul.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: I’ll give you further evidence. We can use another Bhagavad-gita verse for this. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is non-different from the Supersoul, says that He is situated in everyone’s heart. He is the source of remembrance, forgetfulness, and the like.

Friend1: Alright. Again, is there some evidence?

Friend2: Have you ever wondered how birds are able to find their nests?

[bird]Friend1: I have. It’s pretty amazing, if you think about it. I get lost after coming out of a shopping mall. I can’t find my car. I have to retrace my steps from when I first entered. Only then do I have a chance. Otherwise I’m spending hours searching, freaking out the longer I go without success.

Friend2: Right, and everyone agrees that the human being is the more evolved species.

Friend1: For sure. That is the entire basis of the theory of evolution. You start with something primitive and gradually improve. You make your way towards something, and hopefully in the future the human beings will become even more improved.

Friend2: Okay, but the reliance on the GPS completely invalidates that. The bird is less evolved and yet it doesn’t need anything written down to find out where to go. It doesn’t need a map. Certain animals learn to walk almost instantly after birth. The human being is deficient in these categories.

Friend1: Sure.

Friend2: There is intelligence coming from somewhere. That is proof of the all-pervading nature of the Supersoul. Shri Krishna is everywhere. He is the source of remembrance. He brings forgetfulness, too.

Friend1: That’s where some people get upset. They want to know why God would help people to forget Him.

Friend2: It’s because that’s what they want. That is the meaning to “permitter,” which is one of the roles of the Supersoul.

“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)

Friend1: I see.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: The intelligence embedded into nature is one form of evidence. The inherent intelligence within the living being is further evidence. People may not know what to call it. They may use words like “intuition” and “nature,” but it doesn’t really matter. Something is there. That something is the Supersoul, who is more clearly defined as Bhagavan, i.e. God.

In Closing:

Intrinsic ability from somewhere gaining,

At birth still in potential awaiting.

 

The Supersoul, God’s expansion everywhere,

Giving forgetfulness, knowledge to be aware.

 

Distributed in space every existing,

Not divided, through time persisting.

 

Bhagavan the image giving clearer,

In human birth chance to go nearer.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Aren’t You Just Escaping Reality

[Krishna's lotus feet]“O King, as I repeatedly recall this wondrous and holy dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, I take pleasure, being thrilled at every moment.” (Sanjaya, Bhagavad-gita, 18.76)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friend1: Why is it important to hear about Krishna-lila?

Friend2: You tell me. Define the two terms.

Friend1: Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is Bhagavan, which means a person possessing all fortunes.

Friend2: And what is lila?

Friend1: Pastimes. Actions. Obviously, they must be performed by a person. A rock doesn’t have lila. Neither does a bright light.

Friend2: Charita is a similar Sanskrit word. It can mean “actions” or “deeds.” Since Bhagavan’s deeds are nectar-like, the word amrita is appended. That’s how you get books named Ramacharitamanasa and Chaitanya Charitamrita. The holy lake of Rama’s deeds. The nectar-like actions of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

[Lord Chaitanya]Friend1: I guess you’ve answered the question, then. To hear about the lila is to taste nectar. Is it simply about enjoyment?

Friend2: As opposed to gaining some higher benefit?

Friend1: Yes.

Friend2: Of course it brings the highest benefit. Amrita also means “immortal.” Hearing the lila is very important.

Friend1: What about the philosophical side?

Friend2: That prepares you to take the highest benefit from the lila, though hearing the pastimes is enough. We know of the story of the illiterate brahmana who tried to read the Bhagavad-gita every day. That work is more philosophical in nature, but still the talk itself is part of Krishna’s lila. The brahmana simply remembered Krishna taking the role of charioteer for His dear friend and cousin Arjuna. There was a thrill at every moment. Sanjaya felt a similar thrill whenever recalling that conversation.

Friend1: Got it, thanks. Let’s try a counterargument. I may have presented this to you before.

Friend2: Go for it.

Friend1: Immersing yourself in hearing these pastimes - it’s a form of escapism. That is one of the criticisms of people who jump into the devotional life, bhakti-yoga, fulltime.

Friend2: That they are escaping reality? They couldn’t take the pressures of normal life, so they abandoned everything to worship God, someone who the world is not really sure exists.

Friend1: Exactly. Escaping reality. Isn’t that what the devotees are doing?

Friend2: For a second let’s say that you are correct. Is no one else escaping?

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: There is the person who plays videogames nonstop. They play the same game for hours, skipping food and sleep. There are the people so into movies and comic books that they dress up like fictional characters and go to conventions.

Friend1: That’s true.

Friend2: Even the people that follow the news, they aren’t in reality. When I discuss with them the specifics on a piece of legislation, they are usually clueless. But if a politician said something controversial, everyone is aware. The thing that matters most, the law, i.e. reality, is of secondary importance.

Friend1: You’re saying everyone is already escaping reality.

Friend2: Absolutely. The highest reality for the human being is the knowledge of impending death. Who actually remains consciously aware of this? Why would you want to, anyway?

Friend1: Well, there is something you can do to stop the cycle of birth and death. The person who knows Krishna never has to take birth again.

“The wise, engaged in devotional service, take refuge in the Lord, and free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing the fruits of action in the material world. In this way they can attain that state beyond all miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.51)

Friend2: And that’s the benefit of hearing Krishna-lila. You can say it’s a form of escapism, but look at the benefit. It automatically improves your character. If you hear about God’s pastimes on a regular basis, you will become a better person; I guarantee it. Not so with anything else. If you play videogames day and night, you’ll become anti-social. You’re travelling to a fantasy world in comic books precisely because you can’t stand society as it is constituted right now.

Friend1: You’re saying associating with God will make you like people more, even the bad characters?

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: It’s called the spiritual vision. You will see the soul within every living thing. You will understand that God has expanded as the Supersoul to live within everything. How can that not make you a better person? Most importantly, you will remain Krishna conscious, which is the highest objective of living. Krishna is the only reality in this temporary, dreamlike world, full of duality.

In Closing:

Temporary, like living a dream,

Mistook snake for rope it is seen.

 

Already out of reality going,

Arrival of death not knowing.

 

So why not Krishna-lila hear?

Pastimes to heart most dear.

 

Then purify while progress making,

Consciousness from slumber awaking.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Can You Lose Your Soul

[Krishna with cows]“According to less intelligent philosophers, animals have no soul. But factually animals have souls. Due to the animals' gross ignorance, however, it appears that they have lost their souls. Without the soul, a body cannot move. That is the difference between a living body and a dead body. When the soul is out of the body, the body is called dead. The soul is said to be lost when there is no proper knowledge exhibited. Our original consciousness is Krishna consciousness because we are part and parcel of Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.22.31 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friend1: Animals have souls.

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: For some people that is a true revelation. It’s something they can’t believe at first.

Friend2: I don’t understand it. What else explains why animals can move, make noises, sleep, and eat?

Friend1: I guess it goes back to what people were taught. In their spiritual tradition animals are classified as completely different.

Friend2: Yes, and because of that designation it is okay to kill and eat them.

Friend1: On the largest scale possible, mind you. Round them up, bring them to the slaughterhouse, and then enjoy.

Friend2: It’s one of those things where children have the proper instinct. They understand there is something wrong with the picture. Children don’t get into things like gambling, drugs, or illicit sex, either.

Friend1: It is very interesting. Those harmful activities come about in adulthood, when there is supposedly more maturity.

Friend2: That is a comparison for different stages of life for a single person, but you can use the same comparison to the animals. It is just a different body, after all.

Friend1: What is?

[animals have souls]Friend2: The human birth. The animal birth. It’s the same spirit animating each; just the outside covering has changed. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that one of the reasons people think animals have no soul is because of the gross ignorance.

Friend1: Right. Because the animals can’t talk, because they can’t do mathematical calculations, they must be soul-less.

Friend2: Or possessing a different kind of soul.

Friend1: If we accepted that logic, then wouldn’t it mean people with mental disabilities are also without soul?

Friend2: Yes, exactly. The logic doesn’t hold. Moreover, the young child has less ability than many animals. Does that mean it is okay to kill children and eat them?

Friend1: Here’s a question for you. Is it possible to lose your soul?

Friend2: What do you mean? As in, you can’t find it?

Friend1: You’ve heard people say similar things. “I sold my soul.” “Ever since I took this job, I feel like I’ve lost myself. I’ve lost my soul.”

Friend2: That references their essential character. The soul itself cannot be lost. It never ceases to exist. Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that never was there a time that either of them did not exist. The significant distinction is that Krishna can remember the past lifetimes, whereas others cannot.

“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: You could say that anyone in the material world not practicing God consciousness has lost their soul. They are going against their dharma, or intrinsic nature.

Friend1: This is more directionally lost, correct?

Friend2: Yes. It’s like losing your way. You can remain in that state for many lifetimes, millions of years, even. When the time for dissolution arrives, everything goes back into an unmanifest state. When the time for the next creation comes, those “lost” souls manifest again.

“When Brahma's day is manifest, this multitude of living entities comes into being, and at the arrival of Brahma's night they are all annihilated.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.18)

Friend1: And the only way to reclaim the lost soul is to go towards the Divine light.

[Krishna with cows]Friend2: Absolutely. That is the real benefit of the human birth. There are souls everywhere, from the tiny ant all the way up to the highest demigod. There are degrees of ignorance, too. Only when there is pure God consciousness does the cycle of birth and death stop. That consciousness must be there at the time of death. That’s why there is so much emphasis in this age on the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. You and I have been lost for so long, let it not continue. Let us regain our original consciousness and feel the bliss of surrender to the Divine.

In Closing:

Excuses making at any cost,

To say animals of souls lost.

 

So then to kill and eat,

Further in ignorance retreat.

 

Soul always there, existence to define,

Back on track in devotion to shine.

 

The proper end for human birth making,

Chant today opportunity taking.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Three Questions To Ask The Person Who Says They Haven’t Seen God

[Shri Rama]“Neither the demigods nor any exalted personalities were there helping Rama, for He acted alone. You should not entertain any doubt on this matter. Indeed, Rama shot feathered arrows, plated with gold, which turned into five-headed serpents that devoured all the Rakshasas. The Rakshasas were oppressed with fear, and wherever they went and wherever they turned, they saw Rama in front of them. In this way, O spotless one, have your Rakshasas been destroyed in the forest of Janasthana by Rama.” (Akampana speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 31.18-19)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Ravana did not believe in God. He knew of the existence of devas, who are god-like entities. He knew that the devas could empower him beyond belief. Ravana never stopped to think about from where they received their position. Who was the benefactor’s benefactor?

Ravana saw almost firsthand what God can do. The king of Lanka sent fourteen thousand men to fight against Rama in the forest of Dandaka. Usually two against one is enough to ensure victory. Even a fighter who could combat enemies coming from the ten directions simultaneously would stand little chance against thousands of members of the opposition.

Rama is no ordinary person. He is the Supreme Lord, non-different from God, descending to earth in an incarnation form whose appearance day anniversary is known as Rama Navami. Rama used just His bow and the arrows released from it. Those arrows were amazing, chasing after the enemy like heat-seeking missiles. No matter which direction they turned, Ravana’s men saw Rama. They saw God in a ghastly form, one of a death-dealing serpent.

[Shri Rama]Ravana heard accounts of this amazing incident directly from one of the eyewitnesses. Still, belief in the Divine was lacking. Others don’t have such a blessing, and so it is easier for them to discount the existence of the Almighty. From the Bhagavad-gita, which is spoken by the same Rama in His form of Shri Krishna, we learn that there are some basic questions we can ask the person who claims to have not seen evidence of God.

1. Have you tasted water?

Okay, so you are having trouble believing in an intelligent, original being, who is without birth, who is responsible for everything around. But have you ever drank water? Have you never appreciated its taste?

“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

Even the drunkard, whose preferred beverage is beer or wine, can understand God through the taste. The essence of that special thing - it is equivalent with God.

2. Have you seen the light of the sun?

In some traditions of spirituality there is heavy emphasis on the sun. Even in Vedic culture there is the all-important sun-god, who is also known as Surya. In the Ramayana, to set an example for the need to show proper respect Shri Rama supplicates the sun-god just prior to the final encounter with Ravana, who had gone one step too far in taking the Lord’s wife Sita in secret.

Though there is a deity in charge of the amazing object that provides seemingly endless heat and light, there is still an original source. The light of the sun is equivalent to God Himself. No one would deny they have experienced the light of the sun, and in this way they cannot deny that God exists.

3. Have you seen a living thing?

God is the essence of everything that lives. We are samples of God in that way. We define the existence at the local level. When we see a person, what is actually in front of the eyes is a spirit soul animating an otherwise dull and lifeless body.

“I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of all ascetics.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.9)

The spirit soul gives life to the individual body, but without the Supreme Soul there would not be any type of living thing, anywhere. Existence itself is evidence of God.

In this way God can be appreciated and experienced indirectly; something like appreciating from afar. The closer one comes to Him, the more they get from the relationship. In the higher understanding the Almighty is not to be feared. He is all-attractive, ever fresh and new, and so the experience with Him brings the highest bliss, a joy never before thought imaginable.

In Closing:

If deny that God ever seeing,

Questions for ignorance freeing.

 

Never felt the light of the sun,

Or sipped beverage favorite one?

 

A living thing having seen about?

Know that none God without.

 

Life of everything living,

Proof everywhere giving.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Four Ways To Understand God Through Nature

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

Download this episode (right click and save)

Shri Krishna is mercy personified. He is the greatest well-wishing friend of every living entity. His dedicated servants inherit the same property. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would sign letters to his disciples with the words, “your ever well-wisher.”

The same Prabhupada would remark that even the drunkard can understand God. Sobriety is a requirement when operating potentially dangerous machinery like an automobile, so why wouldn’t it be as much required when trying to understand the origin of everything?

“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

Even when in the intoxicated state a person is not completely shut out of the Divine mercy. When consuming their adult beverage of choice, they can consider that Shri Krishna is the taste of that beverage. He says as much in the Bhagavad-gita, where He equates Himself with the taste of water. God is the essence of everything.

This mercy is extended to those who have a difficult time believing God to have a form, name, or personality. They believe in a higher concept, but the idea of an all-attractive youth holding a flute in His hands and incarnating in the statue in the temple is a little too much to accept in a single sitting.

They would rather appreciate the higher power through nature, which is amazing, artistic, and predictable. Just as with the taste of water, there is a way to understand God through nature. The understanding doesn’t have to come in an unauthorized way, either, through something dangerous like mental speculation.

1. A separated energy

Earth, water, fire, air and ether. These are the five gross elements found in the material world. Taken together, in varying combinations and proportions, we get up to 8,400,000 kinds of suits or sets of clothes. The occupant within those suits is spirit soul, who is part and parcel of God.

In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says that those occupants are actually part of the superior energy. The gross elements, along with the subtle elements of mind, intelligence and ego, constitute the inferior energy.

Despite the amazing aura of nature, and how it can overcome tiny bodies through brute force like natural disasters, the living entities are actually superior. In this way we can understand that spirit is more important to God than matter. Nature is nothing more than a large collection of matter.

2. Disinterest

Since spirit is the superior energy, God does not have much interest in the material. Nature is not that important to Him. He has deputies running the day to day functions. We demark a day based on the rising and setting of the sun, but in the higher scheme a day is in relation to the length of time of the creation, which comes to be through Lord Brahma, the creator.

“When Brahma's day is manifest, this multitude of living entities comes into being, and at the arrival of Brahma's night they are all annihilated.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)

The creation goes through cycles. It is manifest, then after some time it is dissolved. The living entities who are not perfectly God conscious come and go. They arrive and then they disappear. The Supreme Lord does not take much interest.

3. Accompanying

Despite the material nature being inferior and Him not having much interest in the changes that are like something appearing in a dream, Shri Krishna still accompanies each and every living thing. The superior energy is the spirit soul occupying the temporary body, and alongside the individual is the Supersoul. He is like the great sanctioning authority, overseeing but not interfering with choices.

“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)

The Supersoul is inside both the thief and the saint. The worst person has God inside of them. For this reason the wise offer respects to everyone, including the tiger. Not that they will behave naively, but they can see the Divine everywhere. They don’t limit their vision to places openly identified as having spiritual association.

4. Not becoming

Nature comes from God, but God never becomes nature. Everything taken together is part of His definition, but He is never a component of any object’s definition.

“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.4)

This is a key distinction. In the mentally concocted understanding, God becomes nature. If this were true, then it means God becomes divided. If He could be divided, it means that His potency is prone to being diminished. Any higher being that is diminished means they cannot be supreme. After all, even the individual soul cannot be cut up.

“The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.23)

[Krishna's lotus feet]Material nature is one aspect to the inconceivably potent Supreme Lord. More amazing are His benevolence and His ever forgiving nature. Despite lifetimes spent forgetting Him, any person who remains conscious of Him at the time of death no longer has to appear in the world managed by Lord Brahma and others.

In Closing:

Even when into intoxication to sink,

Potential to know God through drink.

 

The taste, essence of everything being,

Means that also in nature seeing.

 

Separated energy, not directly caring,

Like in a dream, up and down faring.

 

Created by Him, but never becoming,

As Supersoul with every spirit coming.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Can Devotion Be Considered Flattery

[Dhruva and Vishnu]“Although Dhruva Maharaja was a small boy, he wanted to offer prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead in suitable language. But because he was inexperienced, he could not adjust himself immediately. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, being situated in everyone's heart, could understand Dhruva Maharaja's awkward position. Out of His causeless mercy He touched His conchshell to the forehead of Dhruva Maharaja, who stood before Him with folded hands.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.9.4)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friend1: You know about the four kinds of diplomacy?

Friend2: Mentioned in the Vedas?

Friend1: Yes.

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: I find it so interesting. You have these books that are at least thousands of years old. I know in truth that there is no known date of inception.

Friend2: The Vedas are an extension of the Supreme Lord Himself, who is beginning-less, or anadi. The Vedas are so important that even when God comes as an incarnation and preaches against them, the people in general don’t listen.

Friend1: Like in the case with the Lord Buddha incarnation.

Friend2: Exactly.

Friend1: So with all of these government officials working day and night to craft policy, the whole art of state administration can be summed up in four methods.

Friend2: Sama, dana, bheda and danda.

Friend1: Flattery, charity, division and force.

Friend2: Yeah, obviously you can elaborate further on each method. Sama is likely the easiest of the four paths. Just be nice to the other person. Flatter them. Don’t make a direct enemy out of them. That way maybe they will give you what you want.

Friend1: Dana is simple, too. It’s essentially bribery. Give the other party something. Men have been following this path for years to get out of trouble with wives and girlfriends.

[flower bouquet]Friend2: Haha, that’s true.

Friend1: I like bheda because there is a covert aspect to it.

Friend2: It’s kind of an underhanded tactic. You’re trying to get the other side to fight itself. Divide up the members and see if they can destroy themselves. This way you don’t have to do anything.

Friend1: And danda is brute force.

Friend2: When all else fails, flex your muscles, show your might.

Friend1: Alright, so the question I had relates to sama and dana, I guess.

Friend2: Which are generally reserved for the weaker party. The stronger party can use force at any time, if they desire.

Friend1: Okay, so that sets the table even better. We have the strongest party in God Himself. Since He is Bhagavan, one of the attributes He possesses is full strength.

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: We are the weaker party since we struggle in the material existence. From the time of birth we are immediately overcome by the dualities of attachment and aversion.

“O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.27)

Friend2: Delusion affects everyone.

Friend1: So wouldn’t you say that approaching God, serving Him, is kind of diplomacy? You have the weaker party trying to flatter the stronger party.

Friend2: So much of Vedic literature is people offering prayers. There were the different demigods who tried to pacify the angry Narasimhadeva after He killed the evil Hiranyakashipu. Indra offered prayers in contrition to Krishna after the plan to kill the residents of Vrindavana was defeated by the Lord’s lifting of Govardhana Hill. There are countless examples, really.

Friend1: Perfect. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. Aren’t those prayers equivalent to diplomacy, then? They are not genuine. It’s a way of getting what you want. It’s an angle to work the other side.

Friend2: And so you’re saying we shouldn’t give those words such importance?

Friend1: I’m just confused. Is it bhakti or is it something else?

Friend2: That is the magic of approaching God directly. Even if you are full of desires in the beginning, the association is purifying. The connection changes desires. The classic example is Dhruva Maharaja. He was so upset at being insulted in the kingdom that he went to the forest to get what he wanted. He meditated and underwent austerities for the purpose of pacifying God and achieving personal objectives.

Friend1: And then God came to Him, right? In the form of Narayana?

[Dhruva and Vishnu]Friend2: Yes. But something interesting occurred. Dhruva forgot about revenge. His desires changed. So in that situation you could say that maybe he was trying to win something from the Supreme Lord. The devotion wasn’t pure. Still, it was worth it. None of us are perfect. It is better to try diplomacy with Narayana than with an ordinary person. Narayana has the most valuable gift to give, bhakti, which is the eternal, original life for every spark of the spiritual energy.

In Closing:

Vedas giving many reasons to adore,

Like passing on diplomacy ways four.

 

To work the other side in course,

Bribe, divide or even use force.

 

Pacify and flatter easiest way,

Same not when to God to pray?

 

Magic of bhakti, like with Dhruva shown,

Desires changed to pure service alone.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Are The Residents Of Vrindavana Considered Distressed

[Krishna swallowing forest fire]“The Personality of Godhead heard the appealing voices of His friends, and casting a pleasing glance over them, He began to answer. By speaking through His eyes, He impressed His friends that there was no cause for fear. Then Krishna, the supreme mystic, the powerful Personality of Godhead, immediately swallowed up all the flames of the fire.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 19)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friend1: There is that famous verse from the Bhagavad-gita about the four kinds of people.

Friend2: Isn’t every verse famous?

Friend1: They should be, but you know what I mean.

Friend2: Probably meant to say, “The often quoted verse.”

Friend1: There you go. If you already know what I mean, what need is there to correct?

Friend2: What fun is it if I just let you go on without interruption?

Friend1: You know the verse of which I speak, I presume.

Friend2: “O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)

Friend1: There you go.

Friend2: So what’s your question?

Friend1: I always liked that verse because it reminds me of so many situations from life. The situations are depicted well on screen, and I can also relate from my own experience.

Friend2: Such as?

Friend1: Who hasn’t been distressed at some point and turned to the heavens? I particularly like the prayer of, “God, please help me out this one time. I promise to never bother you again.”

Friend2: That is a good one. That person belongs in the category of “distressed.” You end up going back to Him when you need something again, which you surely will.

Friend1: And who doesn’t want money?

Friend2: The Sanskrit word is artha, which means “profit.” Basically, you want a successful outcome to your efforts. Who wants to do work for nothing? Even in charity there is some expectation that the effort expended is benefitting someone.

Friend1: So the question I had relates to the distressed category. Well, first let me ask if these four kinds of people are practicing bhakti.

Friend2: It’s the preliminary stage. It’s the entryway. Think of it like four different doors that lead a person to the Supreme Lord. Since He is all-attractive, one name for Him is Krishna.

[Lord Krishna]Friend1: Perfect. Exactly what I wanted to hear. So the question is about the residents of Vrindavana.

Friend2: Which Vrindavana? The original spiritual abode of Shri Krishna, known as Goloka Vrindavana, or the replica version of the same place found in this land?

Friend1: It doesn’t matter so much because the question pertains to the people, really. Let’s say we’re talking about the Vrindavana on this earth, but during the time when Krishna was here. I choose this time and place intentionally, because I know in Goloka Vrindavana there are no asuras.

Friend2: Right. You can’t have bad guys there. As soon as there is a hint of desire to go against God, which is the definition of bad, then you descend to the material world.

Friend1: Alright.

Friend2: So which residents did you want to ask about?

Friend1: I’ll give you an example. There is the story of the forest fire.

Friend2: Oh, yes. Krishna and His friends are in the forest and suddenly a major fire develops around them.

Friend1: And so Krishna’s friends have no other hope. They look to Him to save them.

Friend2: Which the Lord easily does by swallowing the entire fire. He can do that because there is nothing material about Him. No element, even in the largest quantity, can influence Him. He is above the three modes of nature, the different elements contained within, and even the three kinds of ways they cause misery to people.

[Krishna swallowing forest fire]Friend1: Nice. Here’s the issue. We know that the associates of Krishna in Vrindavana are the most elevated souls.

Friend2: For sure. There must be qualification to associate so intimately with Krishna. The Supreme Lord’s association isn’t so cheap. The qualification can be quickly acquired, but the biggest hurdle is desire. There’s a reason some yogis spend years and years, lifetimes even, without reaching the same person who was bound up in the ropes of mother Yashoda’s love.

Friend1: Alright, but aren’t the friends in the situation of the forest fire considered part of the aforementioned “distressed” category? They were in trouble. They had no one else except Krishna to save them. And if they are distressed in that way, isn’t their bhakti, or devotion, at a preliminary level?

Friend2: Great questions. First, many of these associates already had been jnanis before. As you know, when Krishna mentions the four groups in the Bhagavad-gita, in the next verse He says that the jnanis are the most dear.

Friend1: Oh yeah. That’s right.

Friend2: The reason is obvious. The jnani knows things as they are. They understand the difference between matter and spirit and how sense gratification is the aim for the lower species. The human being has a higher purpose to fulfill. Therefore when such a person starts bhakti-yoga, they aren’t really looking for anything more. Such a person quickly becomes dear to Krishna.

Friend2: So the male cowherd friends of Krishna were already jnanis?

Friend1: In a previous existence. It is said that many of the female friends, the gopis, were highly advanced ascetics in a previous life, as well. This proves two things. One is that jnana is not the end. Knowledge is one path towards reaching the Supreme Lord. The second is that bhakti is the ultimate destination. That’s where a second life begins, one that is actually eternal.

Friend2: Alright, so I am glad you stipulated that. Wouldn’t the forest fire incident raise a contradiction? You have people in the second, eternal life, but then they are still distressed. How is that considered a liberated state?

Friend1: Great questions. The explanation is that the emotions are transcendental. It’s a way of interacting in bhakti. Devotional life is full of ups and downs, positive and negative emotions, changes in experience, etc. The idea is that every condition is favorable towards devotion. The fear of the dangerous forest fire is a situation that allows for further closeness and reliance on God. It increases the surrender, which thus increases the bliss. I know you want to ask how much it can increase.

Friend2: I do!

Friend1: That is the beauty of bhakti. There is no limit. The surrender can continue increasing. Krishna is ever-fresh and new, and so is devotion to Him.

In Closing:

Never too much bhakti to do,

Since Lord ever fresh and new.

 

So even when in Vrindavana land,

Fear when dire situation at hand.

 

Like forest fire the boys to surround,

In helpless call to Krishna to sound.

 

Not like distressed in ordinary case,

Transcendental pleasure from fear to erase.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Three Ways To Explain Kirtana

[Lord Chaitanya]“Talking of Krishna or singing of Krishna is called kirtana. Lord Chaitanya also recommends kirtaniyah sada harih, which means always thinking and talking of Krishna and nothing else. That is called Krishna consciousness.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality Of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 32)

Download this episode (right click and save)

In this age there is no other way. The point is made three times, for emphasis. Whereas in the Satya Yuga you could achieve perfection through meditation, today the conditions aren’t ideal. Who has the time to properly meditate? Not just sitting on the floor for five minutes and then returning to the daily stresses - actually focusing on the Divine in order to enter trance is very difficult in the age of technology. There are warnings for drivers to not use their handheld devices while operating a vehicle. Such a warning shouldn’t be necessary, but the temptation of distraction is often too great to pass up. Distractions of that kind are everywhere.

In the Treta Yuga it was religious sacrifice. Large quantities of clarified butter offered in just the right manner by an expert priest would win you tremendous pious credits. In the third age, Dvapara, it was elaborate deity worship.

In this age it is simply the sankirtana yajna, the sacrifice of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. These names can be chanted in any manner, but there is special emphasis on kirtana.

The Sanskrit word is taken to mean “congregational chanting,” but what exactly does that entail? Using concepts of which we are already familiar can provide a better understanding.

1. Like Christmas carols

A song says that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” People in some parts of the world don’t have a grasp on how cold winter can really be. In the Northeast in the United States there is snow and cold temperatures, welcomed in by the Christmas season.

One of the traditions is to sing carols. Sometimes groups go door to door to sing the songs, out of sheer joy. They wish to celebrate the season and the person who is to be honored, Jesus Christ.

Kirtana is like singing Christmas carols, but all the time. God’s mercy is there year-round. He doesn’t take a break in making sure the sun rises and sets at the appropriate times. He doesn’t skip a day in providing food.

The soul should be happy, and in its constitutional position, its dharma, it gets tremendous happiness through service. One way to serve is to sing the glories of God. When done in public, others benefit from hearing the transcendental sound.

2. Like a choir in church

Church tends to be serious. It is the place to confess your sins, to ask for blessings from God, and to remember that there is a person upstairs who judges. One aspect of church is the choir. They sing various songs, but again the purpose matches the Christmas carols. The aim of spiritual life, religion in general, is to serve, worship, and love God.

Kirtana is like the choir in church, but not restricted to a specific environment. This travelling type of chanting, the sankirtana movement, was inaugurated in the modern age by Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a preacher incarnation of the Supreme Lord.

[Lord Chaitanya]If you don’t like the church environment, you don’t have to go. Is the president of the local temple a crook, someone who is in it for the money instead of helping people? You can avoid such a person and still receive the benefits of kirtana. So many kind and merciful souls have taken sankirtana to the people instead of waiting for them to arrive.

3. Basic call and response

This is where kirtana stands apart. Hearing is sufficient for reaching the perfection of life. Just hear about God. Shravanam is the Sanskrit word. The practice of delivering the sound is known as Hari-katha. Rama-katha and Krishna-katha are essentially identical terms. The idea is to hear about God, who is known as Bhagavan since He is a person. A person, purusha, has different ways that He enjoys prakriti. Just hearing about His enjoyment in the right mood can bring perfection in life.

Hearing is passive and chanting is active. Kirtana is special because it can be both passive and active, on either side. The people leading the chanting are obviously actively engaged. They become passive when they hear the response from the people listening. This means that the other side usually just doesn’t sit and listen. They participate, as well. Just from responding once to a line of the maha-mantra, a person accrues so much spiritual merit. From the potency of kirtana we see that age, gender, ethnicity, language or other material designations are no barriers for reconnecting with the best well-wishing friend of every living entity.

In Closing:

Kirtana in Sanskrit dictionary to find,

But how to modern day can define?

 

Like Christmas carols happily singing,

Glories of God to people bringing.

 

Or choir in church found,

But not to location bound.

 

Benefit everywhere to response and call,

No barriers, mercy available to all.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Three Examples Of The Potency Of Transcendental Sound

[Valmiki writing Ramayana]“The Sanskrit word mantra is a combination of two syllables, man and tra. Man means ‘mind,’ and tra means ‘deliverance.’ Therefore a mantra is that which delivers you from mental concoction, from hovering on the mental plane. So if you chant this mantra—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—very soon you'll find that you are coming from the darkness to the light.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Journey of Self-Discovery, Ch 2.6)

Download this episode (right click and save)

The typical use of the word “mantra” is with regards to repeating something.

  • “It’s our company mantra: work until you get the job done.”
  • “My mantra during that particular time was, ‘Don’t give up.’ I would tell that to myself every day.”

The word is actually of Sanskrit origin, consisting of two terms. “Man” refers to the mind. “Tra” refers to trayate, which means “to deliver.” Therefore a simple definition of mantra is “to deliver the mind.”

Vedic culture, which has descended from time immemorial, starting with the person of no known origin, brings many mantras to us. From reading history contained in works like the Ramayana, Shrimad Bhagavatam, and Mahabharata we see that from a single mantra amazing things can happen.

The secret is in the potency of sound, and more specifically, transcendental sound. Just like a particular potion can cure an ailment within the body, a sound vibration, uttered properly and through authority, can be as powerful as physical objects, things with perceptible form.

1. Prahlada overcoming Hiranyakashipu

On one side you had a very powerful king. Just how powerful? The good guys around the world feared him. Though they had potency themselves, they knew Hiranyakashipu was immune against attacks in so many different situations. The good guys hid in different places to avoid his wrath.

That king was overcome by his own son, the five-year old Prahlada. How did the boy do it? Did he follow an exercise regimen? Did he pray for favor from the same benefactor who helped the father, Lord Brahma? Did he enlist outside help, with a bodyguard detail protecting him day and night?

Actually, all it took was sound. The boy received that sound while in the womb, no less. Narada Muni, the travelling glorifier of God the person, imparted wisdom to the mother while she was pregnant. At the time of birth, unlike in most other cases, Prahlada remembered everything he heard. Even his own mother forgot over time.

“Narada Muni delivered his instructions both to me, who was within the womb, and to my mother, who was engaged in rendering him service. Because he is naturally extremely kind to the fallen souls, being in a transcendental position, he gave instructions on religion and transcendental knowledge. These instructions were free from all material contamination.” (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.7.15)

The transcendental sound accepted by Prahlada allowed him to stay fixed in devotional service, bhakti-yoga. That connection to the Divine protected him against the antagonism which came from practically everyone in the kingdom. In the end, the Supreme Lord got so fed up with Hiranyakashipu’s attempts at murder that He appeared in a half-man/half-lion form to do away with the king.

2. Lakshmana overcoming Indrajit

The same Narasimhadeva appeared on earth at a different time in Ayodhya, as a handsome warrior prince. Named Rama, He had three younger brothers, with Lakshmana the closest in terms of constantly staying by His side.

The two brothers learned the military art of fighting with the bow and arrow during youth. Their preceptor, Vishvamitra, was pleased with their service offered to him, so he passed on to them confidential mantras to be used in battle. These amazing sounds would augment the potency of their released arrows to the point of matching modern day nuclear weapons.

In one battle Lakshmana was facing off with the son of the king of Lanka. The fighter was named Indrajit since he had once conquered the king of heaven, Indra. After a lengthy conflict, Lakshmana was prepared to release an arrow to finish the enemy. But just before he did, he took the name of Rama. He swore on Rama’s dedication to dharma, or virtue. From the power of that sound the arrow reached its target and gave victory to the dedicated younger brother.

3. From highway robber to celebrated saint

The deeds of Lakshmana and Rama come to us primarily from a lengthy Sanskrit work known as the Ramayana. That sacred book may never have been written were it not for the power of transcendental sound and a seemingly chance meeting.

A highway robber by profession once stopped Narada Muni, looking to steal. The saint doesn’t have anything on him, since devotion is his wealth. Narada used the opportunity to ask some pointed, but sobering questions to the robber.

Soon realizing the error of his ways, the robber surrendered to Narada Muni. The saint then advised the thief to simply chant the name of Rama. Being unable due to the great accumulation of sin, a concession was made. The robber could chant the name backwards, which then gave it the meaning of “death,” to which the man was more accustomed.

[Valmiki writing Ramayana]What happened was that the chanting went on for so long, with such a deep trance, that an anthill formed around him. Chanted backwards, the sound of Rama was produced all the same. When Narada returned later on, he initiated the man into the bhakti tradition, giving him the name Valmiki. It was Valmiki who then authored the Ramayana. The amazing transformation took place through sound alone; the most potent one in fact, that of the holy name.

In Closing:

Not just in physical form found,

Most potent is transcendental sound.

 

Used Prahlada to compelling win,

Over Daitya father of heavy sin.

 

By Lakshmana of devotion unceasing,

Final arrow to Indrajit releasing.

 

From highway robber to saint celebrated,

By Narada with Valmiki name initiated.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Crown Yourself The Other Savior

[Lord Krishna]“Whether you are Karl Marx or Stalin or Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Christian, you must serve. Because we are presently rendering service to so many people and so many things, we are becoming confused. Therefore, Krishna advises us to give up all this service and serve Him alone:” (Shrila Prabhupada, Journey of Self-Discovery, Ch 7.2)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friend1: I noticed something interesting about the people who say there is no God.

Friend2: That they are less intelligent?

Friend1: That’s a given.

Friend2: After all, how do you explain the origin? There is a beginning to everything. We may not know what it is. We have no way to go back and verify with our eyes what occurred.

Friend1: Not to mention that even if we could, our senses are not perfect. Sometimes people witness a crime but are unable to recall the specific details after the fact. The mind is a material element, after all.

Friend2: Good point. They make theories that the origin was a single cell. Or perhaps some chemicals exploded. Then came evolution.

Friend1: Fine, but what is the origin of the cell? Did it just magically appear? Also, who created the rules for allowing evolution? Do we know of any other cases of something intelligent resulting from randomness?

Friend2: The sun, the moon, the air, the oceans, the mountains - amazing scientific properties that can be studied, resulting in predictability in patterns and outcomes to actions. So what was it that you noticed?

Friend1: Well, they start by saying there is no God. That must be stated. They are vehemently against the concept of religion.

Friend2: Right.

Friend1: The thing is, they usually make someone god-like anyway.

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: Like a renowned scientist is dubbed the smartest person in the world. A politician who promises to end poverty is like a messiah. The philanthropist who aims to stop hunger is hailed as the next savior.

Friend2: Yeah, you’re definitely right about that. I would add that the anointed saviors don’t even have to be real people.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: Consider the significant attention directed towards fictional characters, like from movies, literature and comic books.

Friend1: That’s so true. The fans dress up like the various characters. I always use that as proof that these people really do believe in God.

Friend2: How so?

[Mahabharata]Friend1: Because if they thought books like the Ramayana, Bhagavad-gita and Mahabharata were fiction, they would be completely into worshiping the characters. They’ve proven that they throw themselves into things that aren’t real. Their aversion to worship of the Divine, as designated by authority figures descending in the chain of disciplic succession, proves that deep down they understand that God is real.

Friend2: I must say, you are spot on there. If you look at characters like Hiranyakashipu and Ravana, they knew that God existed. They simply chose to go against Him. They thought that perhaps they could overcome Him and assume the top post themselves.

Friend1: So these different saviors come along, but none of them are perfect. They say, “Elect me and I’ll fix everything.”

Friend2: And they don’t fix anything.

Friend1: They say, “Put us in charge and we’ll change the weather.”

Friend2: Which is absurd.

Friend1: They say, “Choose your own path in life, just enjoy, and don’t worry so much. No need to read books.”

Friend2: And books are nothing more than written words originating with a person. If I shouldn’t read books then I shouldn’t listen to anyone. By extension, it means that I shouldn’t even listen to the person who tells me not to read books.

Friend1: Haha, that’s true.

Friend2: It’s in the nature of the soul to serve. That is the definition of dharma for the individual. Service is always there, so even if a person ignores God, they must serve someone or something. That is why these different saviors come along. You must follow them or you’ll be doomed. You must agree with their cause or you are a terrible person.

Friend1: And the only real savior is the Supreme Lord. Proof of His existence is everywhere in the distribution of spiritual sparks, known as Brahman. He is within every local space through the expansion known as the Supersoul. And in the full feature He is a person, an all-attractive Divine being with transcendental qualities beyond measure or comparison.

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: His existence and mercy are known to those who serve Him. Intimately connected with Him, they never make the mistake of accepting false saviors, who are flawed at the core. Such wise souls not only find happiness in this life, but their well-being for future lives is assured as well.

In Closing:

No God, to this world never came,

But worship from atheists the same.

 

This or some other savior to crown,

Happiness only through them found.

 

But flawed human being at the core,

Worshipers left wanting more.

 

Krishna Himself best to follow why,

His potency, in sound and practice rely.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Another Lesson On Humility

[Shri Hanuman]“Hearing the words of Sita, keeping his joined palms to his head, the son of the wind, of tremendous prowess, spoke the following words in response.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.32)

sītāyā vacanam śrutvā mārutiḥ bhīma vikramaḥ |
śirasi añjalim ādhāya vākyam uttaram abravīt ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

In this verse from the Ramayana, the word bhima is used. This Sanskrit word is also a name of a famous fighter. One of the five Pandava brothers, Bhima had tremendous strength. He was an offspring of the wind-god, Vayu. Wind is so powerful that it can knock down tall buildings. One who has control of the wind within the body is able to do amazing things. This is one of the benefits to the meditational yoga practice of pranayama.

“And there are even others who are inclined to the process of breath restraint to remain in trance, and they practice stopping the movement of the outgoing breath into the incoming, and incoming breath into the outgoing, and thus at last remain in trance, stopping all breathing. Some of them, curtailing the eating process, offer the outgoing breath into itself, as a sacrifice.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.29)

[Bhima]Bhima also means “fearful” or “tremendous.” This Ramayana verse references another son of the wind. Known as Hanuman, he is a brother to the Pandava Bhima, but appearing on earth many years prior. He also is very powerful.

Hanuman’s vikrama, prowess, is bhima. It is both tremendous and awe-inspiring. Proof is in the journey to Lanka, where the son of the wind leaped over a massive ocean. He first increased the size of his body, which is that of a Vanara, or forest-dwelling monkey.

That leap across the ocean is tremendous in a good way for the saintly class. Hanuman was on a mission. Shri Rama was looking for His wife, Sita Devi. Many Vanaras in Sugriva’s army were enlisted for the cause, but only Hanuman had the required ability to succeed in the end. He was blessed by the Supreme Lord, who is the ability in man, paurusham.

“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

The leap was terrifying to the opposition. If Rama had one servant who could do this, what would happen if an entire army of capable fighters were to come to Lanka? There was apprehension over this happening, since the leader of Lanka had taken Sita there against her will. He had committed the worst sin, and time was ready to strike at the appropriate moment to deliver justice.

Despite having amazing ability, Hanuman here again shows his humility. Having heard sweet and appropriate words from Sita, after having just met her, Hanuman is preparing to respond. First, he makes sure to fold his hands and keep them upraised, on his head. This is a great sign of respect.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman knows that his abilities are only as good as the cause. Since they are used in God’s service, there is no false ego, ahankara. There is no pride that deludes the consciousness. Ravana, on the other hand, explicitly sought abilities from the creator Brahma. Though knowing that there was a benefactor, Ravana afterwards behaved as if he were a self-made man, very proud of his fighting prowess.

Humility is one quality that endears a person to God. Earning His favor is the most important. Who doesn’t prefer to be liked? Barring the heel character from professional wrestling, who makes it their business to intentionally irritate as many people as possible?

The person most worth impressing is the Supreme Lord. His Divine Grace Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura taught that one should act in ways that God will notice them instead of actively chasing a Divine vision. Hanuman is the perfect example in this regard. He saw God face to face, in the incarnation of Rama, and that wasn’t the end. He continued in service, acting fearlessly, using his tremendous prowess when necessary, and always maintaining the utmost humility.

In Closing:

Most amazing by him done,

Which could be repeated by none.

 

Over the ocean leapt,

But humility still kept.

 

When meeting Sita and hearing,

Appropriate and words endearing.

 

Preparing to respond before,

Bringing folded hands to fore.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Three Examples Of Chewing The Chewed

[Krishna's lotus feet]“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)

Download this episode (right click and save)

There is the saying that one way to identify insanity is when the same thing is done repeatedly with the expectation of a different outcome. A wise young child a long time ago said that practically everyone in a material existence would have to fall into this category; they fit the definition of crazy or insane.

“Prahlada Maharaja replied: Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krishna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.30)

The words used by Prahlada Maharaja were punah punash charvita charvananam. This means “chewing the chewed.” People do the same things over and over, especially since devotion to the Supreme Lord is not tried or believed in. The repeating cycle brings them no further along the path of liberation, which is the ultimate goal of life.

1. Alcohol addiction

Examples are helpful in understanding a concept. There are many candidates for recognizing the pattern identified by the prodigy-like son of King Hiranyakashipu. In alcohol addiction there is a similar cycle. You have one drink. Then you have another. Soon you are at the point of intoxication. There is a temporary buzz, followed by regrettable actions.

When the entire night is spent standing above the toilet, vomiting or almost to the point of, a promise may be made. “Boy, I am never drinking again. It’s just bad news.” Inevitably, the cycle repeats. The same activity, with a predictable outcome, is indulged in, again and again, with the expectation of a different result.

2. Product design

Drugs and alcohol are known to be harmful, but what about having a passion for work? Going to the office, putting in a strong effort to create a new product to be sold to the masses. This will revolutionize whatever industry the product is for.

Even in the case of a very successful product launch, what is the end result? Does anyone use the first personal computers invented years ago? They are nothing more than museum exhibits now. With the smartphone, after a few years the models look old and dated.

Certainly there is progress being made; the new products pave the way for further innovation. At the same time, this defect is always there with progress. You can only move forward from something if that something is deficient in some way. Thus in the fever to create new and better products, the same experience repeats.

3. Divorce and marriage

You’ve had it with this person. You didn’t sign up for this. There are plenty of jokes about the difficulties of marriage, but nothing like this. It’s time to get out. End the relationship. A clean break means a fresh start.

Inevitably, a new relationship comes. What starts out innocent blossoms into a romance. Yet since at the very foundation of the relationship is kama, or sense gratification, there is always the risk of the initial attachment turning into aversion. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that all living entities are born into this delusion, wherein they suffer from the dualities of attachment and hate.

The solution is in the verse spoken by Prahlada Maharaja. It is also provided by Shri Krishna. Find a higher taste. Chew something that never runs out of juice. Only bhakti-yoga meets the requirements. This is also known as bhakti-rasa, or the taste of devotion.

The truth has to be experienced to be believed. Prahlada Maharaja realized with firm conviction at a very young age, after first being instructed by Narada Muni. Prahlada tried to pass on the same wisdom to his friends during recess at school. He tried to help the demoniac father, as well, who was committed to chewing the chewed at the highest level, as king of the world.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Whereas in material activities there is limited enjoyment due to the nature of kama, with bhakti the pleasure only increases with time. This is because God is Himself unlimited, ananta. There is never enough devotion, and there is never enough of His association. The more one chants the holy names, the more desire there is to continue: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Whereas with chewing the chewed the result is rebirth, with bhakti-rasa the end result is liberation, wherein the higher taste continues to be experienced, with time no longer having a negative influence.

In Closing:

Same activity over to repeat,

With different outcome to seek.

 

This definition of insanity one,

Spared in material world are none.

 

For this reason child Prahlada to try,

To explain a higher purpose why.

 

At young age bhakti-rasa tasted,

In life not a moment to be wasted.