Krishna's Mercy

Hare Krishna

Archive for the ‘questions’ Category

Learning From The Non-Devotees

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 11, 2015

[Krishna's lotus feet]“In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya there is a conversation between Prahlada Maharaja and his father, Hiranyakashipu, in which Hiranyakashipu addresses Prahlada in this way: ‘My dear son, association is very important. It acts just like a crystal-stone which will reflect anything which is put before it.’ Similarly, if we associate with the flowerlike devotees of the Lord, and if our hearts are crystal clear, then certainly the same action will be there.” (The Nectar of Devotion, 12)

Download this episode (right click and save)

“I’ve heard quite often of the need to maintain the association of devotees. It is described as ‘sadhu-sanga’ or ‘sat-sanga.’ The ‘asat’ is non-permanent, like the material nature. Those who are ‘asat’ are interested in the temporary, so they are not aspiring transcendentalists. But doesn’t this restriction seem a little harsh? Aren’t there things we can learn from every person, regardless of their interest or lack thereof in spiritual life?”

The aspiring transcendentalist in Vedic philosophy is given many rules and guidelines to follow. These are necessary since the default condition is to be immersed in maya, which is illusion. There is the law of science which states that a body at rest will stay at rest. Inertia is a powerful force, so if you’re walking for quite a while, it’s easier to continue walking; stopping is more difficult. Similarly, if you’ve been in ignorance for so long, it’s the condition you’re more accustomed to. Thus when taking up something totally new like spiritual life, you need guidelines to help you stay on course.

One of those guidelines is to avoid the association of “asat.” These are the people who have no interest in making spiritual advancement. The astute observer will notice a problem right away. Due to the nature of the material world, practically everyone living in it is in the asat consciousness. It’s like everyone is stuck on the couch. When a person decides to try spiritual life in earnest, not out of fear but out of a desire to make the most out of their existence, then it is very rare.

bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ

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

If you’re one of the rare few to get up off the couch, it means that pretty much everyone else is in a different mindset. How are you supposed to avoid them, then? Isn’t this like asking the spiritualist to give up all human interaction? Isn’t it like asking them to live in a remote cave?

To try spiritual life as a discipline is to attempt to assimilate the highest wisdom that has ever existed. You’re basically learning things throughout the process. The recommendation to avoid the association of asat is in place because there is nothing to learn from asat. The reason there is nothing to learn is because the person who is asat thinks that man can become God.

“Is this really true? I don’t hear people speaking this way?”

Ishvara is the Sanskrit term that corresponds to the concept of God. Ishvara means “supreme controller.” If a person doesn’t know that a supreme controller exists, naturally they will think that the post is up for grabs. Even if they supposedly believe in God, if they are not conscious of Him all the time, then the default mentality is the same as the person who doesn’t believe. This is the logical explanation for why a person would continue to accumulate, for why they would keep jumping from activity to activity in sense gratification.

The spiritualist sincere in their desire to understand the five important topics of the Gita has nothing to learn from the non-devoted. The sincere person knows that Ishvara, the living entities, the material nature, time and karma are more important to study. They know that these topics cover everything about an existence. These topics are more important than what kind of house someone owns, how many children a person has, where they go on vacation, or what they eat for dinner.

[Hanuman]The more advancement a person makes on this path, the clearer their understanding of Ishvara becomes. They come in contact with “sat” personalities like Shri Hanuman. In the material realm he could do anything. The person with an “asat” consciousness has a lot to appreciate in Hanuman. They see that the famous god of the Vedic tradition is very powerful. He can lift mountains without a problem. Hanuman can leap over vast oceans and change his shape at will. He speaks extemporaneously in the most difficult language, Sanskrit. He does this effortlessly and respecting the three Vedas at the same time.

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

Though possessing the eight perfections of mystic yoga and thus able to enjoy materially to any level, Hanuman is completely “sat.” He knows that Ishvara is a person, an individual. He knows that Ishvara expands Himself into different personal forms for the pleasure of the devoted. Hanuman worships Ishvara as Rama. In fact, everything Hanuman does is for Rama.

[Rama with Hanuman]A person like Hanuman is ideal for association. He has everything, but he is not so foolish to think that he has become God. The “asat” can never teach us about the true meaning of life. They can reinforce the truths we learn in spiritual life, about the inferior standing of the material energy and how true happiness in life comes from devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They can remind us that devotion is the proper choice, but they can never accurately tell us who is the supreme controller.

In Closing:

If for spiritual wisdom to yearn,

From the non-devoted nothing to learn.

 

Into depths of ignorance they sink,

Since possible to be equal to God they think.

 

Association of Hanuman choose,

Who every ability for God to use.

 

As the Supreme and His wife knowing,

Secrets of life to others bestowing.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in devotional service, questions | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Destruction Of The Empty Spaces

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 4, 2015

[Krishna's lotus feet]“The whole cosmic order is under Me. By My will it is manifested again and again, and by My will it is annihilated at the end.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.8)

prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhya
visṛjāmi punaḥ punaḥ
bhūta-grāmam imaṁ kṛtsnam
avaśaṁ prakṛter vaśāt

Download this episode (right click and save)

Question: “I had a recent experience that got me to thinking. I was looking at old pictures of friends and family. Instead of making me happy, it only made me sad. Many of those people are gone today. The older generation doesn’t look nearly as good now as they do in the pictures. Then I realized that the time went by so quickly. The changes between the past and the present were right there in front of me to observe. And that picture is nothing more than a representation of the present at some point. Doesn’t this mean that life is depressing? What we have right now is destined to go away. Obviously I have known this all along, but seeing the fact facing me directly got me to thinking. What is the point to life?”

Time works in both directions. The tendency is to think only of the past, but there is the infinite future as well. For example, when an athlete is crowned “the greatest of all-time” for their achievements, the true meaning is that up until the present no one has performed as well as them. The word “all” has a specific meaning, though. The title here implies that no one in the future will ever be as great as this player, which is something that no person actually knows. From the Bhagavad-gita we know one thing for sure: everything is destined to be destroyed.

That paints a rather bleak picture. Is the speaker of the Gita trying to make people sad? Is He trying to depress them? The fact is that as soon as something is born, it must die. The timer starts upon exit from the womb. We think that the timer relates to maturation. When will the child say its first word? When will it begin to crawl? What kind of person will it be in adulthood? How will it find happiness?

Actually, as time continues the newborn comes closer and closer to ultimate death. What exactly is that dreaded event? It is the end of everything within that lifetime. The individual remains the same. Between the points in time of childhood and adulthood they are identical. What changes is their covering, which consists of material elements. When we look at someone, we see this material covering. We can’t see the soul, which is finer than intelligence, ego and mind.

indriyāṇi parāṇy āhur
indriyebhyaḥ paraṁ manaḥ
manasas tu parā buddhir
yo buddheḥ paratas tu saḥ

“The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.42)

As clothes start to wear out and grow old, the same applies to the material covering on the individual. This fact is only depressing when one doesn’t know their true identity. When they don’t know their real nature, they mistakenly take their temporary body to be everything. In this mindset they are guaranteed to be depressed, as loss is bound to happen. Just as that body is acquired, it must be rejected at some point.

[God creating the universe]The destruction takes place through time, which is one way to understand God. The term “atheism” is somewhat misunderstood, as it is impossible to entirely reject the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Ignorance is simply the opposite side to intelligence. As everything is rooted in God, ignorance must be included. Atheism is simply a limited understanding of the Supreme, where the highest deity is understood through the impersonal force known as time, whose ultimate weapon is death.

The same God who destroys everything, including the cosmic creation at some point, causing depression can bring the individual’s spirits back to life. He does this through His personal presence. Knowledge of this personal presence is what equates to the term “theism.” The more you know, the more advanced you become, and the less depressed you are.

This presence is never the cause for depression. For this reason it comes primarily through sound. We see this and see that and then become depressed. Not right away, but eventually what we see will be the cause of depression. This is because we see only the material. God is completely spiritual, so we are not yet qualified to see Him, though He is around us everywhere. If we can’t even see our own true identity, how can we see the life of everything that lives?

He arrives through sound to rescue us. The sound can be of His names, such as those found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The sound can be the words of wisdom He gives, such as those offered to Arjuna in the famous Bhagavad-gita.

iti guhyatamaṁ śāstram
idam uktaṁ mayānagha
etad buddhvā buddhimān syāt
kṛta-kṛtyaś ca bhārata

“This is the most confidential part of the Vedic scriptures, O sinless one, and it is disclosed now by Me. Whoever understands this will become wise, and his endeavors will know perfection.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 15.20)

[Lord Krishna]The sound can also be words that describe Him, such as those found in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Brahma-samhita, the Puranas or any work derived from original Vedic literature. The sounds create His image in the mind and on paper. The image of the all-attractive Supreme Lord brings the depressed individual back to life, for it gives an indication of their blessed future. Should they choose to associate with the personal aspect of God, they get to enjoy in the place where time lacks a negative influence. They get to be with the controller of time, who slashes away the depression of ignorance with the joy of knowledge.

In Closing:

From old picture seeing changed face,

What of this life, destruction of empty space.

 

Reason that for getting true joy abound,

From the Vedas descending a sound.

 

In maha-mantra the Lord’s name,

And words describing Him the same.

 

Then ignorance to be none,

Since joy from this to come.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in questions, science | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Honoring One’s Ancestors

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 26, 2015

[demigods showering gifts]“In charge of the various necessities of life, the demigods, being satisfied by the performance of yajna [sacrifice], supply all necessities to man. But he who enjoys these gifts, without offering them to the demigods in return, is certainly a thief.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.12)

Download this episode (right click and save)

iṣṭān bhogān hi vo devā
dāsyante yajña-bhāvitāḥ
tair dattān apradāyaibhyo
yo bhuṅkte stena eva saḥ

Question: “Listen, bhakti-yoga philosophy is nice and all. I believe in it wholeheartedly, that you should worship God and be conscious of Him from today through the time of death. The thing is, I’m not ready to give up my family life. It is not through attachment, but through respect. Everything I have is due to them. Not just my parents and grandparents, but those who came before them too. I have to set up a good family in order to repay that debt. Does this mean that my devotional service is ruined?”

A person is considered grateful when they acknowledge the good deeds done for them. If someone helps you and you forget about that later on, you are not a grateful person. To be grateful means to be wise, since it means remembering something from the past. The less intelligent not only forget, but they fail to see beyond the immediate vision.

“I am His younger brother, Lakshmana by name. Due to His transcendental qualities, I have taken up service to Him, as He is grateful and very knowledgeable.” (Lakshmana speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 4.12)

[Lakshmana]In the Ramayana, we learn that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a grateful person. This is confirmed in the Bhakti-Rasamrita-Sindhu of Shrila Rupa Gosvami also. Since He is the most intelligent person, it makes sense that God would remember any work done in His favor. In the Bhagavad-gita He says that a simple offering of a fruit, water, a leaf or a flower is accepted by Him, provided the offering is made with love and devotion.

patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ

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

The person who remembers what their ancestors have done for them is thus on the right side of things. They are intelligent, grateful and not a miser. From Vedic philosophy we learn that as soon as someone takes birth they assume three debts. There is something owed to the rishis, who pass on Vedic wisdom. Without consulting the works of the rishis, it is impossible to know the five important topics of the supreme controller, the individual soul, the material nature, time and karma. This debt is repaid through studying these works.

Another debt is to the forefathers. The grateful person inherently understands this debt. They took birth due to the work of two people. The credit for the circumstances of their birth belong to generations prior. This debt is repaid through begetting a son. Basically, you’re keeping the chain going. You’re not exploiting the situation that was created for you by someone else.

[Appreciating the work of the demigods]The remaining debt is to the demigods, who manage the material creation. Lord Krishna mentions this debt in the Bhagavad-gita, where He says that one who doesn’t offer sacrifice is considered a thief. Sacrifice is for the pleasure of these demigods. It is taking the elements of material nature and essentially saying “thanks.” It is rightfully acknowledging that within the hands of any single individual rests very little control over circumstances.

Bhakti-yoga is love and devotion directed to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Repaying the three debts doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of bhakti-yoga, but service to God Himself automatically satisfies the debts. Why is this true? To think of what the forefathers have done is to see into the past. It is to see beyond what is currently visible. To see what the saints have done is to go even further up the chain of work, and then thinking of the demigods seems to reach the limit.

The Supreme Controller is the origin of all, however. He is the first person in the chain of work. Moreover, through the effortless operation of time, everything will be destroyed going forward. Vision moves forwards and backwards. Time is infinite in both directions, so one who really sees understands both what has happened in the past and what will happen going forward. When everything is gone, only Ishvara will remain. He is God, and He will again populate the earth with creatures, managing controllers, and saintly personalities.

prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhya
visṛjāmi punaḥ punaḥ
bhūta-grāmam imaṁ kṛtsnam
avaśaṁ prakṛter vaśāt

“The whole cosmic order is under Me. By My will it is manifested again and again, and by My will it is annihilated at the end.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 9.8)

[God creating]The person who takes up service to Ishvara, who is a personality, is the wisest. They understand the root cause, and so they feel indebted to the right person. To be grateful for the work of others does not mean that the attention is given to the wrong people, but the appreciation is not yet complete. Bhakti-yoga is like watering the root of the tree; everything gets nourished as a result. The nourished roots then satisfy all debts assumed at birth.

The person who takes up service to God thus has no reason to fear. They chant the holy names in full surrender: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They think of God all day, and they follow service to Him through the via medium of the guru, who ensures that the work done is bona fide. Every person within the affected sphere is benefitted, even if they don’t realize it. Even if the demigods should mistakenly feel slighted, Shri Krishna protects, like He did on the occasion of Govardhana Puja.

In Closing:

To demigods grateful should feel,

Sacrifice, else from them to steal.

 

Rishis and forefathers there are two,

Three debts at birth assumed by you.

 

But bhakti-yoga to roots nourishing,

Debts satisfied when love flourishing.

 

No worries then to expect,

Since Krishna there to protect.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in questions, sacrifice | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

All The Things You’ve Chased

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 17, 2015

[Nagapatnis praying to Krishna]“Dear Lord, the dust of Your lotus feet is very wonderful. Any person who is fortunate enough to achieve this dust does not care for heavenly planets, lordship over all the planetary systems, the mystic perfections of yoga, or even liberation from material existence. In other words, anyone who adores the dust of Your lotus feet does not care a fig for all other perfectional stages.” (Naga-patnis, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.16.37)

Download this episode (right click and save)

“Alright, let’s say I’m willing to acknowledge that thus far I haven’t made the best choices in life. I wanted money, and I got it. I wanted fame, and for a while I had that too. I wanted people to look up to me, and that has happened also. I’ve chased after so many things, and I’m still not happy. I don’t feel any peace. There’s no satisfaction.

I know you’re going to tell me to look to the spiritual, but I don’t see how that’s going to help. Isn’t it the same thing? You go after something, get it, and then remain unsatisfied. How is it any different? Why should I invest time in that process? What good will it do for me?”

According to the wives of the serpent Kaliya, the highest attainment in life is the dust of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The vision of His feet is enough, as those feet give the chance for endless service to the one person who is worthy of service from every living entity. The dust is better, as it is more humbling. It is a kind of magical substance that keeps the fire for service alive, and it is in that service that one finds the peace that otherwise eludes them.

[Krishna's lotus feet]How do we know that without getting the dust of God’s feet we are unsuccessful in life? There are two methods of gathering knowledge. One is the ascending process. In this route you start from nothing. Sort of like the child who has to learn different letters and words before being able to read a book, in the process of ascension you gather bits and pieces of information and work your way up.

Indeed, the life around us is so complex that the ascending process never seems to end. New studies get conducted for this very reason. One study debunks a previous one. Progress means that the previous point was imperfect. You can only progress from something that is incomplete. If there is perfection, there is no need to progress.

The other method of gathering knowledge is the descending process. This is where someone tells you the information directly. You don’t need to experience it. If someone tells me that one plus one equals two, that is the descending process. If I figure out that by taking one slice of pizza today and one slice tomorrow I have eaten two slices, that is the ascending process.

Each method has its strengths and weaknesses. If your authority figure is flawed, the descending process will hurt you. Think of someone who either misinforms you or lies to you directly. In the ascending process, you can at least figure things out for yourself; you put trust in your own perceptions and judgments. Of course the descending process saves a lot of time, especially when the authority source is bona fide.

The catch with spiritual life is that the ascending process will never work. Even if you don’t believe in a supreme being per se, there is still the existence of the complete whole. We tend to think of this in terms of space, but there is time to consider as well. Think of everything that has ever happened to every single living entity that has ever existed. Then think of everything that currently exists. Take these two together and you have an understanding of God. You may refer to Him as the complete whole, but the idea is the same.

In the ascending process, it is impossible to know this complete whole. First of all, there is the race against time. There is not enough time to study everything that has ever happened. One person can’t read all the works that have ever been published. Indeed, to read the works of a single author like Vyasadeva would take an entire lifetime. Then there is the processing of the information. Then there is the remembering of all the key points. In this way we see that there are great limitations.

[Vyasadeva writing]In the descending process, you take the idea of God on authority. The idea of God is very complex, and it includes the tendencies of the human beings. In the famous Bhagavad-gita, important topics like the individual soul,the Supreme Controller, the relationship between the two, the material nature, karma and time are covered.

Through the descending process you can save a lot of time. So many others have chased after so many different things. From their experiences we can tell the result, namely of remaining unsatisfied. Much smaller in comparison is the number of individuals who have attempted to get the dust of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Though they are fewer in number, their recollections are still accessible.

From accessing that information, we learn that devotion is the only path towards peace. It is the only thing worth chasing, because the gift is the person who created this and every other universe. More than simply getting a vision of Him, devotion offers the opportunity for endless engagement. One victory after another, bliss added on top of bliss, and enthusiasm that grows stronger every day – these are the real rewards.

The path leading to this goal is laid out as well. In the present age there are too many distractions that get in the way of following all the rules and regulations of spiritual life. Man is generally short-lived, unfortunate, and not very smart. He makes identifications based on skin color, country of origin, religious tradition inherited from the parents, and even sexual preference.

[maha-mantra]Though living in a degraded time period, man still has the opportunity for service to the Divine’s feet. The pathway is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Though simple and straightforward, this process has tremendous potency. The power in the sound is what eventually yields the best result. This chanting is a form of meditation, and it brings knowledge from both within and without. The descending process gives the idea of God, and the practice of devotional service brings the practical realization of His transcendental greatness.

In Closing:

All that is, was and will be,

Time and space much too big to see.

 

Thus defective is process ascending,

Knowledge better coming descending.

 

On faith first accept God’s existence,

And then realize through work persistent.

 

Benefit from only the dust of feet getting,

Then into eternal service, misery forgetting.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in knowledge, questions | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Yoga With Determination

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 23, 2015

[japa beads]“The yoga practitioner should be determined and should patiently prosecute the practice without deviation. One should be sure of success at the end and pursue this course with great perseverance, not becoming discouraged if there is any delay in the attainment of success. Success is sure for the rigid practitioner.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.24 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Question: “What if I don’t see success in practicing bhakti-yoga? Chanting the maha-mantra every day [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare] for a fixed number of rounds is good at giving me some peace of mind, but afterwards I’m still attacked by my old nemesis: material desires. What should I do if I feel that I am not making progress?”

Those who teach bhakti-yoga, including the original preceptor Himself, Shri Krishna, say that the yogi should have determination. The idea is that if the yoga is practiced under the proper conditions, which help to eliminate desires of the material kind, then success is guaranteed. This is explained both in theory and also by example, such as with the story involving a sparrow and Garuda.

What is wrong with having material desires? Can a desire be of any other kind?

We can think of it in terms of wanting things for oneself versus seeking the happiness of someone else. The mother who works hard in the kitchen to prepare a nice meal for herself has a different desire than the mother who works just as hard to feed her child. The work is the same in both instances, but the results of that work are to be used differently.

[Mother Yashoda feeding Krishna]A material desire brings work that yields something for the benefit of the material covering of the individual. The soul is what identifies us. We each survived within the womb in the beginning. We can’t fit into a tiny space like that now. We can’t even fathom living like that for upwards of nine months. But it is a fact that we survived it previously. It was made possible by the eternal existence of the soul, which remains active at all times. When we think we can no longer see it, it has simply gone somewhere else. In the womb the soul is hard to see, but we mark its presence by the development of the fetus.

Elimination of material desires means stopping work that yields a result only for the temporary body. Think of it like working for the welfare of the soul instead. It is like building a home in which the soul will remain happiest, where the changes influenced by time will not be present.

Since in yoga there are recommended practices and attainable goals, we see that desire is still present. The call for determination and perseverance immediately implies desire. So desire never gets eliminated; simply its nature changes. In spiritual desire, one’s work yields results that help the soul. When the soul is rescued, other souls can be rescued as well.

The preliminary result of real yoga practice is the gradual changing of the nature of desire from material to spiritual. But what if we don’t see a change? What if we’re not successful in concentrating on the Supersoul within, who is an expansion of the Supreme Lord? What if we can’t understand that we are different from the Supersoul, that we are meant to have union with Him in a relationship of love? What if we’re having difficulty fostering devotion to the Supersoul?

The recommendation is to continue on. Have determination. Be confident that you will see the result. Like a disease that suddenly disappears completely after a long period of treatment, the all-devouring enemy known as lust, or material desire, will vanish in a person who stays the course in yoga, whose purpose is to unite the individual with their eternal occupation, devotion to the Supreme Lord.

To help us understand that determination, there is the example of the sparrow and the ocean. Once a sparrow was laying her eggs on the banks of the ocean, when the waves suddenly rose up and took the eggs. The sparrow asked for the eggs back, but the ocean refused. The sparrow then threatened to dry up the ocean; a vow for which she was mocked. She continued anyway, pecking away at the vast ocean little by little.

[Garuda helping the sparrow]What seemed like folly ended up pleasing Garuda, who is the bird-carrier of God in His personal form of Lord Vishnu. Garuda then came to the rescue of the sparrow, demanding the eggs from the ocean. Thus through strong determination, to the point of ridiculousness, the sparrow succeeded in her goal.

The person practicing bhakti-yoga will similarly seem ridiculous to others.

“How can you give up eating meat? Where will you get your protein? No drinking, either? Life will be no fun, then. You’re giving up illicit sex; whatever that means? And then no gambling also? You are taking away everything enjoyable in life. You are punishing yourself for no reason. God gave us this one human life to be enjoyed to the fullest. You’re going to regret your decision later on.”

Yet if there is the same determination as the sparrow, someone like Garuda will come to help. In his Upadeshamrita, Rupa Gosvami validates this, saying that determination while following the regulative principles is guaranteed to yield the desired result in the end for the devotee.

“The process of bhakti-yoga can be executed successfully with full-hearted enthusiasm, perseverance, and determination by following the prescribed duties in the association of devotees and by engaging completely in activities of goodness.” (Upadeshamrita, 3)

[The Nectar of Instruction book]The difficulty is that the desired objective is a change in consciousness, which is impossible to see. You can’t see someone else’s mind. You can’t tell how they think by only looking at their forehead. You get some indication of consciousness through activities, but in the end it is the individual who will have to judge. Only they can tell if material desires have left and been replaced by an undying will to serve the Supreme Lord Krishna and see a bright smile on His face. The mercy of God is such that the determination alone will bring success, as there is great potency in the help provided by Garuda and others who are devoted to the same Lord in thought, word and deed.

In Closing:

Sparrow her eggs wanting back,

Pecking slowly at ocean her attack.

 

Though seemingly ridiculously fought,

Determination the attention of Garuda caught.

 

Yogi advised to have will the same,

To be steadfast in chanting holy name.

 

Success from consciousness to tell,

Transformed desire victory to spell.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in questions, yoga | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Not Seeing Him As God

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 14, 2015

[Lord Krishna]“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)

catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ
janāḥ sukṛtino ‘rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha

Download this episode (right click and save)

Question: “Why all the analysis in bhakti-yoga? Why do you have to know that Bhagavan means one who possesses six opulences simultaneously and to the fullest degree? Why can’t you just worship God? The majority of the world knows of the man upstairs in this light. They aren’t so interested in the detail. They’re not concerned with the various rasas, like shanta, vatsalya and madhurya. Don’t you think it would be better to simplify things and just worship God in general?”

Bhakti-yoga is the constitutional engagement. You don’t have to acquire it from some outside place. It belongs to you always. Just as the soul remains in existence through the time continuum, so the engagement of bhakti-yoga remains constitutional. Since it is so intrinsic to the living entity’s existence, when accepted it is joyfully performed.

rāja-vidyā rāja-guhyaṁ
pavitram idam uttamam
pratyakṣāvagamaṁ dharmyaṁ
su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam

“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.2)

[Lord Krishna]If you’re happy, you can’t help but want to see others happy in the same way. If you’re finding happiness through something that lacks a perceivable form, you have no way to give that happiness to others besides explaining to them. Therefore in the bhakti-yoga tradition there is seemingly endless explanation. God Himself is infinite, so you will never finish in the task of trying to explain Him to others.

Devotion is equal to Him, and those who practice devotion actually ascend to a higher position. So to describe that devotion and the devotees is to explain on and on, all the while remaining in joy. Part of the explanation involves the nuance and detail of devotion itself. We learn that there are different moods in which the person who loves God connects with Him.

The introductory mood is shanta-rasa. This is neutrality. Think of being stunned by the vision of something beautiful. Think of being so respectful that you will not utter a word, fearing that you might offend. In shanta-rasa, there is awe and appreciation for the Supreme Lord. To appreciate means to know that He is God. It means understanding that as the Supreme Lord of all the planets and the demigods, He is capable of doing anything.

bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ
sarva-loka-maheśvaram
suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati

“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 5.29)

Those who know of God only in the generic sense are in shanta-rasa. They acknowledge that He exists, and through the tradition of spirituality they inherited from their parents they try their best to follow guidelines. They try not to sin, and they try to live up to the self-anointed title of “God-fearing person.”

Shanta-rasa, without any motives, qualifies as bhakti-yoga. Of course to maintain the purity is difficult. In fact, as long as you know that God is the Supreme Being, you will not taste all that bhakti-yoga has to offer. The reason is that if you know someone is so great, the first inclination will be to ask them for things. And why wouldn’t you petition the highest being when you are in trouble? You know that He can deliver. You know that He has yet to fail; hence His name of Achyuta. You know that He can create innumerable planets with a single exhalation. You know that whatever He does is effortless.

“If I narrate about Rama, her dear husband whose actions are effortless, she will not be frightened, as her mind will be absorbed in thoughts of her husband.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.41)

[Shri Hanuman]In the other rasas of devotional service, the inclination to offer dominates. You’re giving to God instead of taking from Him. Shri Hanuman follows dasya-rasa, where he acts as a servant. He knows very well that the incarnation of Shri Rama is God, but Hanuman does not ask anything. In a higher rasa, his desire for Rama’s welfare suppresses his knowledge of Rama’s divine nature. He knows that Rama is so wonderful, and so to keep Rama happy he does brave things like search for Rama’s wife Sita with great swiftness.

Mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja are in vatsalya-rasa, offering love in the mood of a parent. Krishna’s friends are in sakhya-rasa and the gopis in Vrindavana are in madhurya-rasa. In these rasas there is no conscious awareness of what amazing things Krishna can do. Though He swallows forest fires for them and battles poisonous snakes, the devotees here still think that He is at risk. They think that without their affection, Krishna will not survive.

[Krishna with mother Yashoda]One can only enter the higher rasas if they first know that God is a personality with distinguishable features. So essentially you must know God in order to later forget that He is so great. The worship of the generic God is thus limiting. When limited, you are susceptible to returning to the ocean of material existence, where you look for the same service to perform joyfully, only to find misery at every step since the consciousness of God is lacking. Therefore the vast description of bhakti-yoga provided for the benefit of all fallen souls is integral to finding increased happiness and regaining the constitutional engagement in the mature stages.

In Closing:

Though knowing God as Supreme Being,

Bhaktas this aspect not constantly seeing.

 

Instead thinking that on them dependent,

Not concerned with His power resplendent.

 

Like Hanuman to search for Sita going,

And as her darling son Yashoda knowing.

 

Knowledge of God first, then to set aside,

Pathway for in bhakti’s rasas to reside.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in bhagavan, questions | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Explaining My Relationships

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 21, 2015

[Prahlada Maharaja]“Prahlada Maharaja replied: Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose external energy has created the distinctions of ‘my friend’ and ‘my enemy’ by deluding the intelligence of men. Indeed, I am now actually experiencing this, although I have previously heard of it from authoritative sources.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.11)

Download this episode (right click and save)

śrī-prahrāda uvāca

paraḥ svaś cety asad-grāhaḥ

puṁsāṁ yan-māyayā kṛtaḥ

vimohita-dhiyāṁ dṛṣṭas

tasmai bhagavate namaḥ

Question: “Just as God is not impersonal, we are not impersonal, either. We have identity. We are individuals. Therefore, when I hear the teaching that we should not be so attached to our relationships, it makes me wonder. By saying that, aren’t we making the people we know impersonal? Isn’t there a difference between my relationship with my parents and your relationship with your parents? How can you put all relationships into the same category?”

One of the central teachings of bhakti-yoga philosophy, which fully describes Vedanta, is that God is not impersonal. He is a person, though of a kind we’re not accustomed to seeing. By saying He’s a person, it’s being acknowledged that He is an individual. I can never be you and you can never be me. In the same way, none of us can ever be God. Anyone who says as much doesn’t know what they are talking about. There is the concept of merging into God, which brings an end to the cycle of birth and death, but that does not mean that a person can suddenly become the origin of everything. Moreover, the person in bhakti does not want to merge at all; they’d rather maintain their individuality.

The cycle of birth and death shows that we cannot be the person we think we are right now. We have a name. We have parents. We have siblings and friends. We have pets, even. Due to death, which is one of the markings of time, all of these things change. After death, we get a brand new body. In that form, we get another name. There are new parents, new siblings. Worse still, we completely forget about our past life, though our consciousness comes with us.

śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti

yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ

gṛhītvaitāni saṁyāti

vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt

“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)

[carrying conceptions to the next life]Memory gets wiped clean, but consciousness comes with us. Consciousness can be shaped, however, so even that past conception of the mind can shift towards a new direction in the new body. The soul is what stays constant throughout. The soul is who we really are. When we say “I am”, the “I” refers to the soul.

The “am” is also a question mark. Without knowing the “I”, the “am” is impossible to decipher. From knowing that we are soul, we at least have a chance to learn the proper role for spirit. Is it to roam in different bodies, lifetime after lifetime, like the greatest world traveler? Is it to constantly experience things that are destined to be forgotten? Is it to form strong attachments to people whom we are guaranteed to never talk to again at some point?

God is a person and I am a person. As the greatest person, God is the greatest soul. He does not go through birth and death. He remembers everything. When He forms an attachment, it stays. This means that for Him attachment has a different meaning. The same applies to His eyes, ears, legs, hands, and other body parts. In this way there is no difference between spirit and matter for Him. He is one with all of the things connected to Him.

We know that this is not the case for us, which means that we are a smaller person compared to God. The smaller is meant to serve the bigger. This service should be voluntary, and it should continue without a break. It shouldn’t be difficult to picture this service since we offer service already to so many. That is likely how our relationships exist. The parents serve us at first, and in their old age we serve them. Our friends are based on their meeting some interest of ours.

“When plant life is green, there is grazing. When it becomes old, it turns into fuel for fire. When it grows and bears fruits, people grab at it with an open hand. Tulsi says that all are friends only when a personal interest is met, but Shri Rama meets the supreme interest.” (Dohavali, 52)

With God, the pure relationship is when we offer service and don’t expect anything back in return. In one sense it is impossible for God to not reciprocate. As He is a person, He has an original form. It is beautiful, sweet, soft, and enchanting. Since it is all-attractive, it is addressed as Krishna. It has other names too, like Rama and Vishnu. Just by serving Krishna there is the automatic benefit of bliss. Yet He is not required to give us anything material, nor does He promise to. This means that if we go in wanting things other than Krishna’s association, we may not get them.

[Lord Krishna]Yet the relationship still continues; this is the magic of God. He is the only friend that stays forever. Therefore the wise person recommends making a strong attachment with Krishna first. All others will go eventually. This is the sad reality of life. Other people are not impersonal. The interactions with them are real. The lessons taught to us by dear people are important as well. In the end, however, if they cannot bring us closer to Krishna, closer to fulfilling life’s mission, what have we really gained?

While attachment to Krishna is not harmful, maintaining strong attachment to others can be. What if our friends are not interested in self-realization? What if they have yet to figure out that life and death is an endless cycle? What if they are not bewildered by the days and months repeating, with no tangible progress being made?

We all have identity. This means that others around me are spirit soul as well. They are meant to experience the same bliss from surrender in devotion, sharanagati. They are meant to fulfill life’s mission of regaining the original consciousness, Krishna consciousness. All are invited to practice chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In the end, if the attachment to Krishna is not made, then rebirth will happen again, and the difficult struggle to find purpose in life will reemerge. Therefore the wise look to Krishna first, knowing Him to be the savior of the fallen souls.

In Closing:

Relationships to others real I know,

But with death eventually all to go.

 

Consciousness with them coming,

So new temporary identities becoming.

 

As spirit soul for Krishna I am meant,

So no longer time in rebirth spent.

 

By this knowledge to others giving,

Friends and family relationships fulfilling.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in mayavada, questions | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Just A Single Offering

Posted by krishnasmercy on December 20, 2014

[Mother Yashoda feeding Krishna]“Just see how all Your playmates of Your own age have been cleansed and decorated with beautiful ornaments by their mothers. You should come here, and after You have taken Your bath, eaten Your lunch and been decorated with ornaments, You may play with Your friends again.” (Mother Yashoda speaking to Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.19)

Download this episode (right click and save)

paśya paśya vayasyāṁs te

mātṛ-mṛṣṭān svalaṅkṛtān

tvaṁ ca snātaḥ kṛtāhāro

viharasva svalaṅkṛtaḥ

Question: “Why is it necessary to offer something to God? If He is the Supreme Lord, doesn’t it mean that He has everything? What could He possibly need from me? I’m the one who is suffering. I’m the one who is constantly in trouble. Worry never leaves me. He should be helping me out instead.”

One would be surprised to learn that the bhakti-yoga philosophy says that a single offering made to the Almighty in the proper mood yields the best results one could ask for. This is meant to be taken literally. One offering; that’s it. Not many in succession, though that is surely not prohibited. As you would help a stranger on the street who is down on their luck, as you would feed your own children – if you make just one offering to God in this attitude, you will reap benefits like you’ve never seen before.

Of course the first question is why. Why does this work? Why should I offer something to God? The answer is found in the act of raising the question itself. The attitude of the living entity is to ask for things. Seeing that a person has everything and is all-powerful, the less powerful seeks some help. Yet what is the attitude behind that request? If I ask the Supreme Lord for help in financial matters, what will be the result if I get what I want?

[asking for something]I will forget Him. This is the fact. I know this based on how I’ve forgotten all that so many have done for me previously. The tablet computer I use every day came to me as a gift from someone. Yet I don’t remember that on a daily basis. My closet is full of clothes that others gave to me on special occasions. I don’t remember who gave me what. Where is the gratefulness, then? Where is the gratitude?

Requesting from God in this manner is a kind of exploitation. It is like seeing the door to a bank vault open and going in and taking some money. The money belongs to someone else. They earned it. I’m taking it for my own pleasure and not even giving thanks in return. And so this entire creation is the property of God. This means that He is the richest person, which is one of the six opulences that go into the definition of Bhagavan, which is one name for Him in the Vedic tradition.

Now if you make one genuine offering to the Lord, it means that your attitude is a little different. It means that you seek His welfare, not your own. That is the definition to love, at least as we know it. A single offering means that you know that there is a higher power who is all-merciful. It means that you’ve sacrificed a moment of your time to spend with God. It means that for a brief period you’ve escaped your pit of selfishness, where you only think of yourself. Even when you’re working to help others, the motivation is personal; you want to feel better about yourself.

God indeed doesn’t need anything from anyone. We have already established that He is the wealthiest person. He is also the strongest, the wisest, the most beautiful, the most famous and the most renounced. As He is the wisest, there is nothing that we can teach Him. He is more beautiful than anyone we can imagine; hence His name of Krishna. He is so strong that He doesn’t need anyone to support Him. He is so famous that everyone in the world knows about Him in some way. And despite having rightful claim to everything, He can live without anything. This includes our offerings to Him.

[Mother Yashoda feeding Krishna]If you know all of this and still make the offering with love, you win in life. This is because you get the association of God in the proper mood. And that association stays forever, beyond this lifetime. Even if you slip back into the mode of selfishness, that one gesture is never forgotten. You’ll get the benefit again at some later time. For this reason on special occasions like Janmashtami, the appearance day anniversary for Shri Krishna, so many devotees line up to pour liquids on top of the deity form of God as part of the bathing ceremony known as the abhisheka. So many line up to only briefly pull a swing which holds the darling Krishna on it. So many remember the way mother Yashoda feeds Krishna, thinking of His welfare day and night.

For a brief moment there is escape from the miserable world that is full of fear. With birth there must be death, and so each person has to fear the inevitable end to their life. Krishna is timeless. He is deathless. Devotion to Him, bhakti-yoga, is the same way. This is very difficult to understand when one is covered by illusion, and so with the single offering made with love there is hope that the illusion won’t last much longer. There is the potential for escaping darkness and finding the light. There is the chance that a desire will emerge to make many more offerings. Even if they are not in front of a deity form or attending a formal ritual, that person can still sacrifice their time and energy by chanting the holy names with full faith and attention: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Possessor of all, better if from Him taking,

Why then insist an offering making?

 

What exploitation to you to give?

No happiness found in that way to live.

 

Just make a true offering one,

And see how forever His favor is won.

 

In bhakti with love again and again showing,

True happiness when His kind nature knowing.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in prasadam, questions | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Taking Everyone As Their Dear Friend

Posted by krishnasmercy on October 27, 2014

[Nityananda Prabhu]“He [the transcendentally situated person] accepts things that are favorable for his duty in Krishna consciousness, otherwise he has no necessity of anything material, either a stone or gold. He takes everyone as his dear friend who helps him in his execution of Krishna consciousness, and he does not hate his so-called enemy.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 14.22-25 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Question: How do I avoid envy? I know I shouldn’t be jealous, but sometimes I can’t help it. If I hear that my friend just got married, I immediately think of how they have beaten me to the punch, how they have succeeded in life while I have failed. The same goes for someone landing a good job or doing well in school. I know I shouldn’t think this way, but how can I avoid it?

Envy comes from lust. To lust after something means to want desperately to exploit it for personal enjoyment. If anyone or anything gets in the way, it becomes an enemy. If someone is enjoying the cherished object before me, it means that I am not happy. I don’t like that they have gotten something that I wanted so bad. If someone has a larger quantity of the same desired object, then I also feel envious. Only the transcendentally situated person can truly get passed envy, and along the way they turn the situation completely around: they view everyone as a friend.

Lust is due to ignorance. When I think that my body identifies me fully, I consider specific enjoyments to be worth pursuing. There is the obvious ignorance here in terms of identity, but there is also forgetfulness to consider. The alcoholic is the classic example in this case. They previously lusted after their beverage of choice. They know what the results to that lust were. They have empirical evidence to analyze. And despite knowing and experiencing the negative consequences that came previously, they once again lust after the same thing.

If I am not my body, then who am I? The ego, one of the three subtle elements of the body, can mean “I am.” In the false ego, the “I am” refers to the body. This temporary covering that came to us at the time of birth and has since constantly changed gets mistaken for the sole basis for identity. In the real ego the “I am” shifts towards Brahman, or spirit. The Vedic aphorism aham brahmasmi reveals the real identity of the individual. “I am a spirit soul, part and parcel of the non-differentiated spiritual energy known as Brahman.”

The transcendentally situated person understands this theoretically and they also have practical knowledge of it. They can answer the question of “who am I” on a quiz, and they also act with knowledge throughout their daily affairs. One of the symptoms of that realization is the lack of envy. And why does envy go away? Does the transcendentally situated person just give up? Are they like the quarterback scrambling away from defenders in the pocket who simply decides to lay down and take the sack? Do they throw their hands up and decide that no enjoyment is necessary in this world since it brings the green-eyed monster known as envy?

In fact, the transcendentally situated person views everyone as a friend. How does this work exactly? To know Brahman is one thing, but to know how Brahman should act is another. The living entity is a spirit soul, and spirit is meant to serve the supreme soul. This solves all problems. Even if somehow you’ve avoided envy all your life and managed to prosper materially, you still need something to do in the end. Once everything is settled, you’re left with sitting in a room and having nothing to do, wondering if there is anything more to life.

Service to the Supreme Brahman is that “more.” In the constitutional state, that service takes place in a mood of love. So the transcendentally situated person finds ways to increase their service no matter with whom they interact. If they encounter an enemy, who is against the devotional path, they consider that to be a great blessing. “Ah, see how this person has chastised me. It means that my ego was getting too inflated. It means that the Lord is testing my tolerance, wanting to see how sincere I am on this path.”

Another basis for viewing the antagonist person as a friend is instruction.

“Just see how much they are teaching me. They are reminding me that the life devoid of devotional service is not worth living, that it doesn’t bring any happiness. If they were truly at peace, they wouldn’t have a problem with me chanting the holy names of the Lord: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. I wasn’t bothering them. I know that the majority of the population is averse to devotional service, as they are stuck in the well of envy borne of ignorance. I have no hatred for them, and yet so many of them try to stop me. This is a great reminder that the path I am on is the right one. This person is thus a dear friend of mine.”

[Nityananda Prabhu saving Jagai and Madhai]The ideal example in this regard is Nityananda Prabhu. One time two drunkards attacked him for no reason. He could have retaliated, but instead Nityananda showed supreme compassion on them. And actually the thugs ended up reforming and becoming great friends to so many future generations of man. Their example showed that the mercy of the all-merciful Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is meant for all living entities, that the path of bhakti-yoga is not restricted to anyone.

In Closing:

When in transcendentally situated state,

All viewed as friends, no one to hate.

 

No more by hatred to be attacked,

Since of envy there is a lack.

 

Even antagonist shining the light,

Revealing that bhakti the path right.

 

Like Nityananda Prabhu by Chaitanya sent,

Showing that bhakti life for all is meant.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in equality, questions | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Do People Die

Posted by krishnasmercy on October 24, 2014

[The universe]“The demoniac conclude that the world is phantasmagoria. There is no cause, no effect, no controller, no purpose: everything is unreal. They say that this cosmic manifestation arises due to chance material actions and reactions. They do not think that the world was created by God for a certain purpose.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 16.8 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Question: “I know this has been asked by people since the beginning of time, but it really struck me lately. Why do people die? It’s not fair if you think about it. You become attached to them, you gain so much from them, you love them so much, and then they abruptly leave you, never to be seen again. Why must there be death?”

Life and death are tied to each other. You can’t have one without the other. Death puzzles everyone, for who knows exactly where the individual previously living has gone. No one is certain, as they can’t do an experiment to test for the next destination. The same lack of knowledge is there regarding birth. From where did this new baby come? The less intelligent, relying on sight alone, think that sex life is the only cause. Two living bodies get together in the proper way and a new life emerges. The philosophy of the spiritual science says otherwise. From knowing how birth takes place, the unknown of death becomes a little clearer too.

Between birth and death what we actually see is the soul. The individual may be a man, a woman, a dog, an elephant, a cow, or even an ant. We react differently based on what we see. We adjust our behavior to the individual’s behavior, which differs depending on the species. Even within one species, the individual always changes. The human being doesn’t emerge from the womb capable of acting out scenes in a Shakespearean play, but in adulthood it can. The infant doesn’t know how to fix a computer, but as an adult the same person can become an expert in the field.

This means that we see change. The individual does not change; just their particular covering does. From this we see that birth is the assumption of a covering. The individual existed somewhere else previously. Where exactly we don’t know for sure. The individual doesn’t remember their previous existence. If they could, they would be God.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

bahūni me vyatītāni

janmāni tava cārjuna

tāny ahaṁ veda sarvāṇi

na tvaṁ vettha parantapa

“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)

We’ve introduced another person into the picture. God. One way to know Him is to look for that one person who has perfect memory. Birth and death is a single instance of a travel where memory gets erased at the end. There is no memory going in, but the individual remains the constant. It’s like a dreaming state almost. Death is like waking back up and awaiting the next dream.

This helps us to understand what birth and death are, but we don’t really know why they take place. Why does someone have to exit the dreamlike existence? As the dream is not real, we should know that the time spent within a particular species is not the ideal existence for the individual. In short, they are not meant to undergo birth and death. They do so at their own risk, and the cycle continues until they are ready for a permanent change.

And actually, death is a nice thing. Imagine if the situation were the other way around. Imagine if someone told you that how you look right now, where you live, and what you do – those things will remain forever. You will never get to leave. Who would actually opt for that? The less intelligent might jump at the chance without thinking first, but upon further thought the apparent boon would be properly seen as a horrible punishment. Death guarantees a change of scenery, an escape from a prison-like existence.

Unfortunately, that cycle continues. Death brings another birth, which brings another death, and so on. The cure for birth and death is spiritual awakening. Know who you are. Understand why you go through this temporary existence. Then take the necessary steps to stop it. The identity of the individual is spirit. Spirit is that which transcends birth and death and all the changes that occur in between.

The temporary existence is the result of desire. The individual who wants a dreamlike state, a place where they can pretend to fend for themselves and rise to prominence amongst other species who are in the same boat – they get their wish granted. Of course they are quite powerless even in the dreamlike existence. If they had real power, they would never be forced to leave. They would never die. They would get what they wanted, all the time. This is not the case, which means that the results to actions actually come from someone else.

upadraṣṭānumantā ca

bhartā bhoktā maheśvaraḥ

paramātmeti cāpy ukto

dehe ‘smin puruṣaḥ paraḥ

“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, Bg. 13.23)

[Lord Krishna]That person with perfect memory whom we mentioned before accompanies the individual in the dreamlike existence. He is the one who actually makes everything happen. He doesn’t influence decisions without being asked. If it were otherwise, then the individual would have no independence. They would be like robots forced to act under someone else’s direction. God observes and then sanctions. Desires conflict and so not everyone can get what they want all the time.

The temporary existence stops when there is surrender. Not to another fallible living entity. Not to the desires of someone who is destined to die themselves. Surrender to God is the secret. This means relinquishing the desire to live amongst the temporary. It means no longer competing with God, but instead serving Him. As God is such a vague concept, we see why surrender is so difficult. We see why there is such widespread lamentation at death, with so many puzzled by the event, wondering why it has to occur.

Vedic philosophy gives the most information about God. Fortunately, the information presented covers all aspects of life. Blind faith is not required, and neither is it encouraged. Use all your intellect. Question everything. Immerse yourself in the philosophy and start to look at everything with the eyes of spiritual knowledge. Then soon enough you will see for yourself that more important than birth and death is the happiness of the soul. That soul gets lasting happiness and peace, shanti, in service to God in His personal form.

In Closing:

To understand I try,

That death has to be why.

 

An answer to this cannot find,

So therefore always troubled my mind.

 

That death tied to birth always know,

As soon as one comes they must go.

 

Cycle on and on it goes,

Stops when Krishna one knows.

 

As Supersoul sanction to action giving,

When desire in bhakti, without fear then living.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in questions, reincarnation | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »