Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Two Sides Of God

[Shri Krishna]"All of them - as they surrender unto Me - I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha." (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.11)

As Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, everyone follows Him in all respects. The all-attractive one has something that appeals to every kind of person. As such there is actually no such thing as an atheist. To those who know the spiritual science in truth the term has a different meaning.

1. Adharma

This is the back side of God. Think sinful behavior. Think doing things the wrong way. You purchase a new piece of furniture. There is a proper way to assemble it. Since there is freedom of action for a living being, there are also countless wrong ways to put the item together.

The wrong way is adharma. The material world is like a shadow or reflection of an eternally existing realm that is free of anxieties, Vaikuntha. There is no inebriety in the spiritual world, but in the material world there is illusion at every corner.

The living being tries desperately to take that which is impermanent and make it permanent. The triumph in work, school, or sports turns into a distant memory after a few short years. Revisiting that time through photo or video technology may bring some temporary delight, but then the sad reality kicks in. Time has changed everything. Time has guaranteed that there will never be a return to that period of glory.

Adharma is the way of the atheist. They see God, but only His back portion. This means that just the separated, external energy is worshiped. Even if there is a stubborn resistance to worshiping any acknowledged higher authority, eventually there is submission to time in its most ghastly form: death. In this way even the atheists see God and bow down to Him.

2. Dharma

This is religiosity. Righteousness. Doing things properly. Following the way of authority, as passed down through a chain of teachers, each dedicated to the same purpose: returning others to Vaikuntha. Dharma cannot be concocted. It cannot be altered. It may be more refined or specific depending on the circumstances and the desired goal, but at the root level it is the same for every living thing.

That is because dharma is what defines an object. For the essence of life, the spirit soul, dharma is service to the Divine. Following dharma equates to theism, or belief in God. The more a person stays on this side of the Divine, the more they enjoy through His association.

That is the real difference between real religion and aimless sense gratification. Those in the dark, seeing only the back side of God, enjoy very little. They get whatever the shadow world, the material energy, has to offer.

[Lord Krishna]Those seeing the front side receive everything the personality Himself has to offer. He turns time upside down, into an auspicious factor, allowing for renewed opportunities in service, which is what makes the soul happiest. God shows His different transcendental forms, which are beautiful and purifying. One look at Bhagavan, the person who holds all fortunes, in the proper mood can change the consciousness forever. Then no longer will the back side of the material energy be an option for association. Only Vaikuntha, whose conditions can be replicated even in the material world, will be the place to live.

In Closing:

Argument with atheist to expect,

But following Krishna in all respects.

Just looking at side the back,

Personal association to lack.

Little happiness with misery bound,

True joy on other side found.

Delightful, all-attractive vision getting,

And so no more in illusion setting.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Why Do All Questions To The Spiritual Master Sound The Same

[Shri Hanuman]“How can I ensure that the purpose of my task does not get destroyed? How shall I avoid mental disparity, and how do I ensure that my crossing of the ocean does not go for naught?” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 2.41)

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Friend1: It’s good to ask questions.

Friend2: Especially when you’re trying to learn.

Friend1: I’ve noticed that even the experts ask a lot of questions.

Friend2: Such as?

Friend1: Doctors. Nurses. They are trained in the medical profession, but when they see patients the first thing they do is run through a series of questions. They don’t make assumptions. They perform a thorough investigation.

Friend2: A wise person applies discrimination. Steer clear of hasty generalizations. I believe that is one of the fallacies of logic.

Friend1: The hasty generalization? Yes. Some others are ad hominem, tu quoque, and straw man.

Friend2: There you go.

Friend1: Of course, I have a question about questions.

Friend2: Sure.

Friend1: At satsanga programs…

Friend2: Can also be called sadhu-sanga.

Friend1: Yes.

[sadhu-sanga]Friend2: An association of devotees, or saintly people. Sat refers to that which is eternal. Asat is temporary and thus not really important. Those who are aspiring after the eternal truth are also sat.

Friend1: And sadhu is the saintly person. Essentially satsanga and sadhu-sanga are synonymous.

Friend2: Yes. So, what about these programs?

Friend1: The format may vary slightly, but there is a general sequence. You get some sort of talk, discourse, discussion, what have you.

Friend2: Yes. Sometimes there is only chanting of the holy names, sankirtana. That is just as powerful, especially in this age of Kali where man is generally fallen. Only one leg of dharma, or righteousness, remains, so the attention span required to learn higher topics isn’t what it used to be. You can still get the same message across through a simpler method: transmission of sacred sound.

Friend1: Yes. I am well aware of the power of the holy names. In most of these gatherings those names are prominent, even within the teachings. There is heavy emphasis on the constant chanting of those names, especially the sequence found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Friend2: The great deliverer of the mind.

Friend1: After the discourse the floor is open for a few questions.

Friend2: Of course. The speaker wants to make sure everyone in attendance understood the message. No one should go home with doubts.

Friend1: I don’t really ask questions. I reserve those for you.

Friend2: Thanks.

Friend1: Here’s something I noticed. Though the wording may vary, and even the exact subject matter, the questions are always the same.

Friend2: What do you mean? How is that possible?

Friend1: The discussions are often based on the Bhagavad-gita. The speaker takes a specific verse, reads it, and then discusses it. As you know, the Bhagavad-gita covers a wide range of topics.

Friend2: For sure. The material nature. The living entity. Karma. Reincarnation. The three modes of nature. Charity. The spiritual master.

Friend1: Right. So just imagine that no matter the verse of focus, the questions asked afterwards are identical.

Friend2: Now, are these questions really the same or is this a general impression you’re getting?

Friend1: It’s the latter. I’m not sure other people even pick up on it.

Friend2: Ah, I see. So what makes you think the questions are identical?

Friend1: Basically, each person is asking about their own practices. They feel they are deficient in some way. They maybe don’t chant as many rounds on a set of japa beads as recommended. Perhaps they aren’t thinking of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as often as they should. Some of them feel guilty about still having a job. Another person has material desires.

Friend2: Sounds pretty normal to me. You expect these people to be uttama-adhikaris, at the highest level of spiritual understanding?

Friend1: No, that’s not it. I’m trying to figure out what bothers me about the whole thing. Hmm, you know what it might be? Even if they are feeling guilty about not living up to the standard they seek, what is asking a question in a gathered assembly going to do about it?

Friend2: What do you mean? Shouldn’t they feel open to share their concerns with a respected personality? Isn’t that the benefit of having the teacher there?

Friend1: But the solution is always the same. “More devotional service. Stay on the path of bhakti-yoga. Don’t give up.” Honestly, after hearing these people, in my head I’m always thinking, “Stop being such a baby. Seriously. So you’re not perfect. Why are you bothering us about it? Did you not have trouble in college? Is raising children a picnic? Somehow you managed to succeed in those things. You didn’t have someone there holding your hand the entire time. Why are you being such a baby now?”

Friend2: Wow, that is a harsh reaction. You’re overlooking another factor here.

Friend1: What is that?

Friend2: Time. The loss of progress. Fear of a wasted effort. They want to make sure their time is being spent wisely. They don’t want to practice spiritual life and have it prove unfruitful. Otherwise it seems like a waste of time.

Friend1: Right, but in the Bhagavad-gita Krishna assures the unsuccessful yogi that there is no wasted effort. They get to continue in the next life from the same spot; not going backwards.

Friend2: You and I know that, but maybe these people don’t want to risk rebirth. They want to make the most of the practice right now. Look at the example of Shri Hanuman. When he was in Lanka looking for Sita, the missing wife of the Supreme Lord Rama, a few times he worried about the effort not going to waste.

Friend1: As in the search?

Friend2: As in all he had done up until that point. Remember, he leapt over a massive ocean. An amazing feat. It’s like a team staging an epic comeback in the final minutes of the game to tie the score, only to then lose in overtime. The effort essentially goes to waste. Hanuman did not want that to happen.

Friend1: But he is so dear to Sita and Rama. Even if he didn’t succeed, no one would blame him. He wouldn’t be considered any less of a servant to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

[Shri Hanuman]Friend2: Try telling him that. He was worried about letting Rama down. He knew the other Vanaras counted on him to succeed. It’s the same way with people who follow bhakti-yoga as a spiritual practice. They don’t want to let the guru down. They want to please Krishna. It’s only natural for them to ask such questions. Look at how genuine they are. You should appreciate their humility and their dedication. Bhakti-yoga is so important to them that they don’t want to fail. How many other people can say that?

In Closing:

At sadhu-sanga, for guru questions to come,

Variety in wording, but having meaning one.

“Despite so dedicated to try,

Deficient in this service am I.”

But why needed someone their hand to hold?

Be fearless in devotion, courageous and bold.

But even great Hanuman having doubt,

Worried that long time success without.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Do You Remember Not Being Able To Walk Or Talk

[spiritual world]“There is a spiritual sky, where there are innumerable spiritual planets and innumerable spiritual living entities, but those who are not fit to live in that spiritual world are sent to this material world. Voluntarily we have accepted this material body, but actually we are spirit souls who should not have accepted it. When and how we accepted it cannot be traced. No one can trace the history of when the conditioned soul first accepted the material body.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Easy Journey To Other Planets, Ch 2)

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Friend1: The living entity fell from the spiritual world.

Friend2: In the association of the Divine, as that is the very nature of anything within the spiritual energy, but suddenly a desire changed.

Friend1: I’ve heard two viewpoints relating to this.

Friend2: Which are?

Friend1: That the fall happened by chance.

Friend2: What’s the other?

Friend1: That nothing happens by chance.

Friend2: Haha. Let me guess. The source of both is the same?

[Shrila Prabhupada]Friend1: Yes. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Friend2: And it’s obviously contradictory to you?

Friend1: Just me? What about you?

Friend2: The first refers to an unfortunate occurrence. It’s like bad luck. “Ah, by chance I made the wrong decision.” Think of the toss of a coin. The chance is that it will land on either heads or tails.

Friend1: Right.

Friend2: But when you actually toss the coin and it lands on a particular side, that is not chance. The outcome is due to a specific action. Lakshmana, the younger brother of Shri Rama, once remarked about this.

“Unseen and indefinite are the good and bad reactions of fruitive work. And without taking action, the desired fruits of such work cannot manifest.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.17)

We’re not sure what the outcome to actions will be. We’re not sure how long those outcomes will manifest. But the rule is that the outcomes only occur after an initial action.

Friend1: The initial action here is the turn from the spiritual world. That led to the fall to the material world.

Friend2: Yes. The land of birth and death. The realm of forgetfulness. Like when sitting in a movie theater we intentionally forget that what is on the screen is a scripted performance, we forget God in the material world in the hopes of finding some higher enjoyment.

Friend1: Of which there is none?

Friend2: Only misery. Every victory is coupled with defeat. Success has failure. Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down, but the guaranteed end is total destruction. No one can escape this.

Friend1: Then in the next life the cycle repeats.

Friend2: Exactly.

Friend1: Until you get it right, where you turn consciousness towards the spiritual realm.

Friend2: Just have that consciousness while quitting the body. You don’t require anything else. Then you get the return trip to the original home.

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

Friend1: Alright, but aren’t you a little curious about past lives? Don’t you want to know when the first fall took place?

Friend2: Is that important to you?

Friend1: It would be nice to know. On such and such date, in such and such form, I forgot the Supreme Lord. That would be kind of cool to know.

Friend2: What would that information do for you? How would that help you?

Friend1: It would give some proof of the theory.

Friend2: Ah, I see. First off, it’s not a theory. Secondly, if someone did give you that information, how would you verify? You’d have to take their word for it, no?

Friend1: Yes.

Friend2: Then? What’s the issue? Take Krishna’s word for it that you were originally with Him. He is the best person to trust, established on the basis of the amazing teachings given to Arjuna, the unmatched level of compassion shown to His devotees in Vrindavana and elsewhere, and His mercy in the form of the representatives on earth who follow in a chain of succession, ensuring that everyone has a chance at reviving their original consciousness.

Friend1: Okay, I accept the authority. Don’t get me wrong. But that authority doesn’t provide specifics. That’s what I am asking about.

Friend2: Let me ask you this. Do you remember not being able to talk?

Friend1: As in from when I was a baby?

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: No, I do not remember that.

Friend2: What about not being able to walk?

Friend1: Hmm. Nope. Don’t remember that, either.

Friend2: Do you need pictures confirming the fact?

Friend1: Nah. It’s easy to understand. At one point I was small. I couldn’t walk or talk. Eventually, I learned how to do those things.

[spiritual world]Friend2: Well, it’s the same with the past lives. You and I left the spiritual world. We fell. Because we can’t remember doesn’t really matter. Even if someone showed us visual proof it doesn’t really do anything for us. Trust me, once you come to the spiritual consciousness even past events that occurred in the present lifetime will seem trivial. You’ll consider them part of your past life. That is one of the reasons why initiation with a spiritual master is considered the second birth. You’re leaving behind the life of ignorance and entering the blissful, eternal life of service to God the person.

In Closing:

At one time walk I could not,

But somehow proficiency I got.

To remember first talking neither,

Not important for proof of either.

Same with tale of spiritual world’s fall,

Not necessary for each past life to recall.

More important the future, to where next going,

Blessed when Krishna at death’s time knowing.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Three Kinds Of Association Necessary For Success In Spiritual Life

[Lord Krishna]“The purpose of knowledge is to understand distinctly that the living entity has by chance fallen into this material existence. By his personal endeavor in association with authorities, saintly persons and a spiritual master, he has to understand his position and then revert to spiritual consciousness or Krishna consciousness by understanding Bhagavad-gita as it is explained by the Personality of Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 13.24 Purport)

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“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” This was a line made famous in a series of television commercials several decades ago. The message pertained to helping the elderly, who in modern times often live alone.

The line can in fact apply to every single living thing in the material world. The fall took place a long time ago. Was it a coincidence? Was it by chance? The turn was made away from the Divine light. It was by choice, as the living entity is endowed with a small amount of independence. It was an unfortunate occurrence, a mistake, which happened so long ago that no one can accurately trace the date.

The fall is to the material world, and the difficulty in getting up relates to the cycle of birth and death. Simply learning how to read and write is not enough. Neither is earning a lot of money, supporting a family, or becoming famous. You can set up a factory that feeds the entire world and still be out of luck when death arrives. The same goes for pious behavior. You could be the greatest saint, winning elevation to the heavenly planets in the afterlife, but still be compelled to return to the land of birth and death.

The first step to getting up is realizing the fall, i.e. awareness. The living beings can go many lifetimes without understanding this, as at the time of birth the animal instincts of eating, sleeping, mating and defending take priority. After becoming aware of the chance descent from the spiritual realm there are three entities who work in concert to help the seeker rise again, without risk of fall.

1. Shastra

These are the scriptural works. Shastra is authority. Today they are in book form, but originally there was an aural tradition. The keepers of the faith in times past had something like mega memory. From hearing a work for the first time they could remember it, line by line, word for word. And these works were quite lengthy, enough to fill many volumes of books.

Shastra is like a tree with many branches. There is knowledge available to satisfy different desires, such as good health, a long life, cures for diseases, and even conquering other kingdoms. The most important knowledge pertains to the individual, who is spirit soul, which is transcendental to the body.

Two works touching on this highest topic are the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam. The first is a concise but complete presentation on the spiritual science, and the second is a more lengthy discussion, featuring both the potency of God and His actual nature and tendencies.

2. Sadhu

One literal definition for this Sanskrit word is “one who cuts.” The genuine sadhu is all business. They are defined by their dedication to the teachings of the most important works of shastra. There is really no difference between shastra and sadhu, since they represent the same goal.

Shastra is static, while sadhu is dynamic. Sadhu is the saintly person who embodies the teachings of the spiritual science. The saintly person lives a spiritual life, where they are concerned only with the needs of the spirit soul. They help others to hopefully one day reach the platform of saintly life.

They do not necessarily offer the same advice to everyone. English literature is not taught to first grade students. Neither is complex mathematics. Sometimes a person has to learn the basics before they can advance. With the spiritual science it may take several lifetimes of progress before reaching perfection, and the sadhu is well aware of this. For this reason they may provide different advice to different people, but the end goal is always the same.

3. Guru

This is a person spotlighted out of the group of sadhus. The guru is the personal teacher, the spiritual master. It is said that sadhu, shastra and guru run on parallel lines. If there is a contradiction amongst one of them, that standout likely isn’t genuine.

Sadhu, shastra and guru say that God is ultimately a person. He has different energies and manifestations, but in the complete feature He is Bhagavan, which is a person possessing all fortunes. The aim of life is to serve Bhagavan instead of maya, which is illusion.

The guru provides more specific instruction on how to reenter this service, as it is the original, eternal occupation, corresponding to the constitutional position of the living entity. The guru may translate Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam into a language that is understood by a certain class of people. The guru may offer more specific recommendations, like avoiding four harmful activities: meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex.

[Lord Krishna]The guru gives hints on how to succeed in spiritual life, adjusted to the time and circumstance. For instance, in the age of Kali, knowing the generally degraded condition of man, they put more emphasis on the holy name. The guru says to simply chant it on a regular basis, setting the complicated procedures and regulations aside. Not sure which names to repeat? Just use the maha-mantra, as it is easy to remember, effective, and both the starting point and the end goal: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

For success in spiritual life to see,

Needing help from entities three.

Shastra from Supreme coming down,

Many branches of knowledge profound.

Sadhu the saintly person cutting to the chase,

Shows path to progress time not to erase.

Guru more specific teacher is he,

Sets on path of bhakti to liberate me.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Two Ways To Understand The Material Nature

[Lord Krishna]“Material nature and the living entities should be understood to be beginningless. Their transformations and the modes of matter are products of material nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.20)

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The goal of spiritual life is an enhanced living experience. It must be something better than what we have right now, but also to extending past the known limit. Hunt for the rhinoceros, because even if you fail people will give you respect for attempting something so difficult. If you succeed, there is even greater satisfaction.

The many rules and regulations are there for advancing towards the highest goal, eternal bliss, which is already part of the individual. The spirit soul is ananda, or blissful, and eternally so, nitya. There is the knowledge aspect to the soul as well, which explains why certain animals can start running immediately after taking birth and why there is the expectation that the infant human will eventually grow up to walk and talk on their own.

To follow the path is not easy, especially with many distractions around. There is also the issue of doubt. How do we know that there is something better? Is it only available in the afterlife, as the doomsday preachers say? What if the promises are empty, just words to insulate against the depression caused by the harsh reality of eventual death?

To help clear doubts the Vedas explain so many aspects of the world in which we live. Taken collectively the many aspects form what is called the material energy. Understanding this energy puts the goal of spiritual life into the proper perspective.

1. Eternally existing

Prakriti is an energy, and it has a source. The electricity flowing through the household, the street, the community, and town does not appear magically. There is a source, which is referred to as the powerhouse or the power plant.

“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)

In a similar way the material energy comes from the all-powerful that is God. All energies emanate from Him, in fact. In this way prakriti is eternal. It can never not exist. It does not come into being at a certain time, nor will it ever be completely destroyed.

Everything about nature that leaves us in awe is due to God. The same goes for the negative aspects. Rain is welcomed in the dry heat, but it brings misery during periods of cold. Mountains are beautiful, but since they are so high it is not safe to climb them. Rivers help in transporting goods from place to place, but if you get caught in a current it could be your doom. Thus there is duality in the material nature, with conditions changing all the time. But still, the energy is Divine at the core.

2. Temporarily attached

Vedic teachings highlight the distinction between spirit and matter. Purusha animates prakriti. Material energy is that which is enjoyed, and the individual inside is the enjoyer. In fact, prakriti can’t do anything on its own. A car can’t drive itself. Even though the technology is being tested today, there is some intelligent being in the background serving as the guide.

Though the material energy is eternal, it does not remain forever on the individual. The spirit souls are temporarily attached to matter. This is the meaning of a material existence. The goal of spiritual life is to break free of that attachment.

For this reason certain properties of matter are stressed. Dull and lifeless. Lacking consciousness. Matter is eternal, but the manifestations are not. In the unmanifest state the material energy is known as pradhana. The spiritual glance comes over it, causing the transformation into the manifest state. When the time for dissolution arrives the energy returns to the unmanifest state.

[Lord Krishna]The living beings get caught in a cycle of birth and death, which involves accepting matter, becoming attached, and then rejecting. Spiritual life is for ending the cycle, for regaining the spiritual form, svarupa. This way of life is so powerful that the nature of the energy can change even before death. The previously inhibiting material energy becomes auspicious, ready to help the sincere seeker in their quest to remain attached to the source of all energies, the Supreme Lord, the all-attractive Shri Krishna.

In Closing:

Over everything gaining upper hand,

Helpful for material nature to understand.

Since from God eternally existing,

Never created, through time persisting.

But temporarily attached right now,

To free from spinning cycle how?

Devotional life, positive approach take,

Progress before end of life make.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Hit The Ground, Even Heaven Crumbles

[Lord Krishna]“Again and again the day comes, and this host of beings is active; and again the night falls, O Partha, and they are helplessly dissolved.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.19)

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Friend1: What is the best thing to work for?

Friend2: What do you mean? As in what is most beneficial for me? That is an easy question.

Friend1: Well, you hear people talking about having a passion in life. That is the way to avoid depression. Be passionate about something.

Friend2: Yes, you definitely hear that.

Friend1: Would that relate to the mode of passion, rajo-guna, as described in Vedic literature?

Friend2: Absolutely. A one hundred percent match. The reason the teaching is there from the self-help gurus is that the mode of passion is higher than the mode of ignorance, which is essentially doing nothing.

“O son of Kuru, when there is an increase in the mode of ignorance madness, illusion, inertia and darkness are manifested.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.13)

Friend1: From my understanding the mode of ignorance is regression.

Friend2: Yes. Going backwards. You’ve made it through the evolutionary chain of species. There are so many different body types. Moving. Nonmoving. Small. Large. Living in the air, on land, or in the water. Intelligent. Not so much so. Standing tall for thousands of years or quitting the body a few days after birth.

Friend1: And the human life is the most auspicious.

Friend2: So take hold of the chance. Don’t go backwards. Why waste the opportunity? In that sense the mode of ignorance is the worst thing you can do. Murder. Intoxication to a ridiculous level. Sleeping all the time.

Friend1: Those are indications of tamo-guna, but what is the benefit of rajo-guna?

Friend2: The end result is a neutral state. You’re kind of tricking the mind. There is passion about something. The something is the result. The issue is that the result does not remain forever, and so again the passion has to be stirred. Again and again, the cycle repeats, something which Prahlada Maharaja refers to as chewing the chewed.

Friend1: Back to my original question. What is the best thing to work for? Would it be sattva-guna, the mode of goodness?

Friend2: That brings elevation to the higher planets. Sattva-guna is pious behavior. Think following religion. Remaining clean. Avoiding sin. Following the guidance of an expert on the spiritual science. Staying level-headed. Not being swayed by the ups and downs found in the life of passion.

Friend1: So that is the answer? I know you’re going to say bhakti.

Friend2: You know that I am going to say it, but do you know why?

Friend1: Because devotion is at the core. Because we are originally part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, who is an all-attractive, ever-youthful person. We fell to the material world due to desire to enjoy separate from Him. This is the original sin, if you will. We don’t know when this fall occurred. We cannot trace out every previous lifetime, nor is it a worthwhile endeavor.

Friend2: You don’t even need that lengthy an explanation. We can keep it in the context of this discussion. Work in devotion is the best because it produces permanent results. Do you understand that even heaven crumbles?

Friend1: At the end of a cycle of creation.

Friend2: Yes. Everything manifests. It remains for some time. Then it gets destroyed. The living beings who are not purely God conscious go into an unmanifest state. They return when the time for the next creation arrives. In this way know that everything that we work for will get destroyed. Even the reward for pious behavior, elevation to the heavenly realm, will not be a permanent stay. What goes up, must come down, including the heavenly realm.

Friend1: There is a higher place, right?

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: The spiritual world. Bhakti is work that leads towards that imperishable realm, where the Supreme Lord in the personal form resides alongside His eternal associates. It is eternal life in an eternal body, with no dichotomy between spirit and matter. A replica of that place can be created even while in the temporary world. That is another amazing aspect to bhakti-yoga. You can be liberated even before death, such is the potency of the Supreme Lord and the things that represent Him completely, like the sound vibration of the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

In mode of goodness pious and humble,

But even heavenly residence to crumble.

Since under devouring time,

To destroy everything of mine.

To body, to mind, to houses owned,

Everything in material world known.

Work in bhakti the best results to make,

Life of devotion not even time to take.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Four Things Only Hanuman Was Qualified For In Rama’s Mission

[Shri Hanuman]“At night, on the sun having set, Maruti [Hanuman] contracted his body. Becoming the size of a cat, he was a wonderful sight to behold.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 2.49)

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The Ramayana is rather lengthy. That was the brainpower of rishis from the bygone era. They could remember thousands of verses composed in the complex Sanskrit language after hearing them only one time. Then they could recite them flawlessly; no stuttering, no fumbling, no consulting notes.

Despite its volume, for some the work is not long enough. This is due to the main subject, the person whose name is found in the title. Shri Rama, an incarnation of God, is limitless. His potencies are without end, ananta. The saints write as much as they can, suited for the time and place, but the glories continue to increase, like an ocean that has waters rushing in but never swells over.

A significant portion of this work is dedicated to a character other than Rama. His name is Hanuman, and the attention is justly deserved. There were several areas in which only Hanuman was qualified to help Rama, an engagement which is known as bhakti-yoga, or devotional service.

1. Leaping over the massive ocean

The real-life tale is that the king of Lanka, Ravana, has a boon that grants him immunity from death against every living thing except human beings. The issue is that he is very powerful at the same time. This means that no normal human can even think of taking him on in battle.

The apparent loophole, which is merely a fact of life, is taken advantage of by the Supreme Lord to help the devas, the gods who are in fear of the ten-headed Rakshasa. Let not the mind be disturbed by the amazing descriptions. God can do things well beyond the limits of the imagination. In this mortal world it is not a big deal to get ten heads or to have safety from death in a variety of situations.

The human being to take care of Ravana is Shri Rama, an incarnation of the Divine. Rama is so kind that He doesn’t act alone, nor does He do everything immediately. Time works with Him to increase the pleasure of the devotees and teach valuable lessons at the same time.

Time also works to glorify those Rama chooses to put in the spotlight. Hanuman is one of the chosen souls, and his first difficult test comes when his friends are really close to reversing their fortunes. Hanuman is in the body type of a Vanara, which is a forest-dwelling monkey-like creature. Hanuman and his friends are working for Sugriva, the monkey-king who is friends with Rama.

The group was looking for Rama’s missing wife Sita, but they hadn’t found success. Then, almost out of nowhere, they got intelligence of her whereabouts. Dejection immediately followed that great happiness. The location was the island of Lanka, and they were on a shore many miles away. How were they going to cross the ocean?

In this instance only Hanuman was qualified to continue in service. Reminded by Jambavan of his mystic abilities, Hanuman increased his size and then took a giant leap from a mountaintop. That was enough to reach the island.

2. Searching properly in Lanka

Hanuman was qualified to increase his size and take the leap, but there were obstacles along the way. Life is not easy if you are trying to satisfy a material desire. If you’re trying to serve God without motive then even more obstructions will be encountered.

After passing those tests Hanuman reached Lanka. With such an amazing accomplishment behind him, now the difficulties were really beginning. He had to search in Lanka without being detected. Sita was there against her will, taken by Ravana, who was guarded by the ocean as well as the many formidable Rakshasas in his city. These were night-ranging cannibals, who had no respect for dharma [righteousness].

Only Hanuman was qualified to search properly once inside Lanka. He had never met Sita before, but he knew Rama. Therefore he knew that the beautiful princess for whom he was searching would be the most despondent person around. To make sure no one recognized him, he decreased his size to that of a cat.

3. Not getting discouraged by lack of success

The search inside Lanka was not easy. At one point there was a false positive. Hanuman saw a beautiful woman inside of Ravana’s palace and thought she was Sita. In excitement he even kissed his tail. A few moments later he realized that it wasn’t Sita, because Mandodari, Ravana’s chief wife, did not show the proper signs of sadness.

Only Hanuman was qualified to continue on, all by himself, without any outside help. At one point he thought of quitting. He felt so bad for having let everyone down, as they were all counting on him. After deliberating, he wisely noted that only through living is a person able to please the Supreme Lord. Quitting wouldn’t help anybody.

4. Knowing what to say to Sita

You search for months. By good luck you get the location. Then you cross the ocean by yourself. You search inside the enemy territory without being discovered. Finally, you find Sita. Time to rejoice. Relief of the burden.

Not so fast. Now you have to win her trust. Ravana used a false guise to trick her into being hospitable back in the forest of Dandaka. The Rakshasas were expert at changing their shapes to accomplish their sinful desires. Why would she now trust someone in a monkey body?

[Shri Hanuman]Only Hanuman was qualified to know what to say to Sita to win her trust. He decided to simply glorify her husband. This was easy for Hanuman since he had devotional love in his heart; it is what defines him. Only a friend to Rama would be able to glorify in such a way.

In Closing:

Ramayana tale with God in the name,

But bringing honor to Hanuman the same.

Devoted to him a section entire,

How search for Sita to transpire.

Over the great ocean he leapt,

Despite dwindling time hope he kept.

Meeting her knowing exactly what to say,

Continuing in that service to this very day.