“This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.10)
Friend1: In reading the books about bhakti philosophy and the history of it, I’ve noticed something peculiar.
Friend2: Just one thing? I would hope that everything is different. After all, if it were the same to what you’ve been fed your whole life, then something is wrong.
Friend1: Well, obviously the philosophy is new. I didn’t really understand God being a person before. I didn’t know that heaven and hell can be found in this world. Usually you hear about being condemned to hell if you don’t follow a specific religion.
Friend2: Yeah, my flippant response to that is, “If I have to listen to your nonsense, I must already be in hell. So what am I afraid of the afterlife for?”
Friend1: Those people are really annoying. They don’t realize how ridiculous they sound. No wonder others are left with such a negative impression of religion. It’s as if they are asked to willfully suspend intelligence and common sense.
Friend2: The less intelligent you are, the better off you’ll be, it seems. Don’t question anything. Don’t use your brain. Just blindly follow somebody, and that only because of fear. Anyway, what was it that you found peculiar?
Friend1: For this discussion, I’m juxtaposing other books on spirituality. Not on bhakti-yoga necessarily, but they have elements of Vedic culture in them. For instance, they might mention reincarnation, the illusion that is maya, and the purpose of life being for understanding God.
Friend2: Okay. This should be interesting.
Friend1: In these other books, you hear about all sorts of things that I’ll describe as “miracles,” for lack of a better word. Please don’t go into a lecture on what a miracle actually is, because I already know.
Friend2: Wow. I was about to interrupt you, too. Okay, I’ll use restraint.
Friend1: I’m not sure I can express this properly. To me it just seems weird that the authors find these events to be noteworthy enough to include. I mean I guess it’s cool to suddenly appear out of nowhere, to do amazing things with your body. But I don’t consider it to be so amazing.
Friend2: Why is that?
Friend1: Because I know that with mystic perfections you can do pretty much anything.
Friend2: And how do you get a mystic perfection?
Friend1: Umm, through mysticism? That’s pretty obvious.
Friend2: But what is mysticism?
Friend1: Oh. It’s yoga, or a specific kind of it at least. If you do real yoga, not just the exercise routine, you can do amazing things like become very light, become very heavy, read minds, and predict the future.
Friend2: You’re wondering why the books on bhakti that you’ve read don’t describe these amazing things?
Friend1: Exactly. The personalities are heavy. They are gurus for a reason. I know that they can do amazing things. Yet none of that is emphasized. I think I know why, but I thought I would bring it up to you. I think I know why they’re not so concerned with people reading someone else’s mind.
Friend2: Let’s see what you have.
Friend1: It’s because of what I mentioned before. Mysticism isn’t all that special. What ordinary people find to be amazing the self-realized souls know to not be a big deal.
Friend2: Precisely. The wise would rather describe God, not the God-imitators. The Lord does truly amazing things. He can lift a massive hill and hold it up with the pinky finger on His left hand for seven days straight. He holds up all the planets in outer space without any effort. He empowers the sun with endless heat and light.
Friend1: And yet when you tell people that God does this, they won’t believe you. They’ll think it’s mythology.
Friend2: Yup. There’s that incident with the brahmana and the cobbler. Narada Muni met both of them prior to visiting the Supreme Lord Narayana. Narada returned to earth with a message for both of them. Narayana instructed Narada to tell them that He is threading the eye of a needle with an elephant.
Friend1: Oh, I think I heard this one. And by judging the reaction you could tell which one was wiser?
Friend2: More advanced; closer to liberation. The brahmana thought that Narada was making things up, while the cobbler accepted it immediately. The cobbler said something to the effect that a giant banyan tree comes from a tiny seed, so what is so unthinkable about Narayana threading a needle like that?
Friend1: That’s a good one. I think I was inherently thinking the same thing. What’s the big deal about a yogi doing something amazing with his mysticism? What are you really gaining? Why would you include something like that in your book? In fact, why would you prominently feature things like that in your book on spirituality?
Friend2: Because you don’t know God the person. You don’t know that He is all-attractive; the reason He’s addressed as Krishna. You don’t know that He is Yogeshvara, or the master of all mysticism. These other books remove God’s transcendental attributes. They make Him a nameless, faceless person. Yet the tendency to worship is there always, so they’re left to be amazed at things that aren’t worthy of attention.
Friend1: Yeah. I think for now I’ll stick with the real thing.
Miracle yogis to me no appeal,
Rather safe sticking to God real.
The one who Govardhana lifted,
And liberation to faithful cobbler gifted.
Who all worlds easily creates,
Whose supremacy Vedic literature states.
That Krishna, the all-attractive one,
Yogeshvara, an equal to Him none.