Mercy equals joy? In life?

I have never really understood the usage of the word “mercy”. Mercy is unpredictable. It makes us dependant on something… undefined. We rely on the mercy of Guru and the vaishnavas. Then we have to get the approval from the guru parampara so that they will distribute their mercy. Even bhakti is dependant on mercy, not by our own efforts. Bhakti is even personified as bhakti devi – one more person we have to somehow get this unpredictable, undefined mercy.

“In spiritual life, nothing is a formality.”

This may be frustrating for us, because we like things to be ordered. We want effort to equal reward. But spiritual progress doesn’t work like that. What is mercy anyway?

My life seems to be molded in the furnace of hell. The more mature I get, the more resistance and tougher lessons I receive. But it has the other quality as well, the harsher lessons, the more happier I’m afterwards. I’m more mature, have learned to deal with things better, I have more tools in my toolbox of life. Mercy in the form of resistance and grit.

I find it reassuring that mercy is not dependant on my effort, because I suck at it. But my sincerity is there, my desire is there, just not very bloomed. So I receive so much challenges so I don’t stop because I may just end up being very happy and content with my life.

This is a descending process, not an ascending one. Which means that my effort will not make me progress (though of course it doesn’t hurt). It’s a descending process.

There is a story about Guru Nanak. He was very fond of payasam and he vomited. So on this day he gave it up. After vomiting he told himself, “This happened because I have such taste for this preperation, so eat it now! Eat it!”

The devotees attitude should be, “I am unable to control my limbs, I have no capability to control my organs. The Lord must help me.” This is the correct process. Gur Nanak’s approach was a long procedure because it was an ascending process, not a descending one”

Sri Guru-vani, Sri Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja

I’m allowed to sleep now, so I’m going back to being a functional human being. Furthermore, I’ve gotten a job as a Linux Technician which I absolutely love (and is absolutely challenging and frustrating in the beginning phase).

So what is happening? I’m becoming so happy, so content because the tide has turned. But the influx of feelings is tiresome. When I got the apartment I live in, I was so happy and loved it. Then it turned to hell when I was not allowed to sleep. Now I have gotten a job I absolutely love. Will that experience also turn into hell?

“If we want to enjoy the pleasures of this world, we will suffer, because all diseases will come”.  Sri Guru-vani, Sri Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja

I’m thoroughly enjoying myself (even though I’m being so very challenged). I truly enjoy living. When I’m not being tortured, I love my life. I keep on molding my life until I become so very happy. Then there’s setbacks, then the tide turns again. For each challenge I overcome, the more happy I become. But am I turning my mercy unto material enjoyment?

God created this world, so why shouldn’t I enjoy it? I love this new job. Why can’t I think that God gave it to me because he wanted me to improve this world this way? I believe God wants me to enjoy it while I’m still His. I don’t see this enjoyment as bad. I see it as a reflection of his mercy, which he can take away if he wants. Isn’t God using this world to improve us and the people around us? Why wouldn’t He put us in a position where we do this – even on the material plane.

The first was when I developed the opinion in 1993 that a significant majority of people in charge of ISKCON were downright phobic of real Krishna consciousness, unless it was forced into the most starched, pressed, shaved, and bleached/dyed robes; Xeroxed and stamped bona-fide by GBC resolution. I realized they would never really embrace and support a personality like mine, which expresses itself without conformity to uniforms and bureaus. They would always keep me in the curtained corners of the rooms reserved for  “dissidents,” “sahajīya” and “gopī-bhāva club members.” Vraja Kishore

What made Srila Prabhupada an enlightened being who at first was married with an ayurvedic medicine business? Gurudeva was a policeman before he joined Kesava Maharaja. I can’t help but think that one of the reasons they stand out is not (only) because of their surrender, but their unrelenting creativity of personality. Spiritual surrender requires being creative in navigating life and our spiritual quest. It means we keep on trying to improve our lives, and it makes us happier in the long run – even materially. But that material quality must not trap us, it somehow have to live side by side for a long while with our material life. Living the grihasta life.

I realized they would never really embrace and support a personality like mine, which expresses itself without conformity to uniforms and bureaus.

This sentence describes me so well. I don’t conform. I think for myself, not just blindly follow and accept. Will organizations always have troubles with these individuals, and not harness their strength? There is strength in numbers, even when they are deviating. Strength in numbers mean controlling others. But those with creativity will always try to break those limitations put upon them. Gurudeva did when He preached about manjari bhava – openly and unapologetically. By breaking limitations one becomes happier – and receive resistance for it. People will always try to put them down. Mercy will zero out the problems.

I’m still not at a place where I’m equipoised about all the things that is happening to me. I crave for stability in my life, but it seems like Krishna has other plans for me. I have to use all the creativity I have to strive for balance. It’s easy to see the mercy when things are good and I enjoy life. It’s also then I can see the mercy in the bad times. And somehow I just seem to climb to higher places of happiness each time.

I reserve the right to be offended

There’s a letter now circulating on Facebook which speaks against a person who is apparantly writing offensive things both over emails and on Facebook. I do not link to this as I see it as hanging people out to dry.

Which is ironic considering that’s exactly what people think I’m doing in the case of PP. So I will therefore specify my intentions: I believe there is a difference between siddhantic debates, crimes and deviations. PP is challenged both when it comes to siddhanta and in terms of a crime. I haven’t publicized deviations and I so far have not allowed deviations and hanging people out on my blog.

I find that people in the sanga has a very black and white thinking, unable to see or accept nuances and distinctions. It’s one of the things I try to add to the conversation. It requires the ability to view multiple viewpoints at the same time and be able to navigate between them. It also means I have to see that not everything I say or do is positive, that I may create damage. I have to accept that I can make mistakes and will get corrected/resistance for it.

And I’m fine with it.

There is one word that is very infected in our faith – “offences”. Committing offences towards Vaishnavas has to be challenged, it has to be put down and the rightousness of the correct party has to be victorious. Apparantly this person is writing a lot of offensive things and therefore has to be vanquished. So how do we vanquish – yes, we publish very private details about that persons faults.

And we do not like to read such offensive materials – we reserve the right to not be offended, so we have to make a big deal out of it.

But you know what? We don’t have to react to every persons gibberish by being offended. We can just block it, decide to not give that person any more attention than what’s needed. Or we can quietly disagree on that persons page, over the privacy of emails or whatever. We don’t have to react by digging into that persons personality publicly. We can even disagree with that person publicly, but let’s just not dig into that persons personality. Let’s instead address what that person writes.

We should not be so easily offended. We can’t expect that our emails should only contain things we agree with and are pleasant. We can’t expect that our Facebook feed contains only non-controversial subject matters which requires nothing of us.

We need people that gives resistance, disagrees and brings forward unpleasant things. But we need to make distinctions between those who bring constructive feedback and those who only wants to sow conflicts and havoc in their wake.

And we need to do all that while maintaining our bhajan. If these things disturbs your bhajan – then shut it off for a while until your bhajan is stable enough to deal with it. But do not expect that people should stop offending you, just because you don’t like it. Learn to set up your boundaries instead.

Denial

A person can be empowered to do one or more service to Krishna. This empowerment will enthuse others, make them receive so much inspiration and joy in their service to Krishna.

Empowerment does not equal being a Bhagavat and that this person is someone to accept as siksa. It means that there is a certain function this person is supposed to perform, and all glories to that person for performing it.

There has been one issue that has become a public secret. It’s troublesome that it’s not being dealt with to my knowledge.

While the sannyasis may debate tattva and authenticity, that is their prerogative and duty. But there is one other HUGE issue that is not dealt with, but lies there in the background. Not really used as an argument and rightly so because it’s an issue that should be handled on its own.

There is an accusation of the molestation of a couple of boys (children young adults) by Premananda Prabhu (PP). There is a recorded talk with at least one of the mothers of the molested boys.

The biggest indicator that our sangha is sick, is that this is not being dealt with. Why?

The only reason I can fathom is because there is no authority to deal with it – the sannyasi council or whatever have no real power to enforce rules and restrictions on anybody. I don’t know. This is very disturbing.

This is not a case of deviation – something between two consenting adults. These are allegations of a crime. A crime should always be reported to the police – preferably in both india and the country of origin of the boys/young adults.

These are allegations – so it’s not something that has been proven. But it should be investigated. By the police and by the sangha.

In such cases there should be one devotee who has the main responsibility to take care of the family of the victim, and one devotee with the main responsibility to take care of the alleged perpetrator.

The alleged perpetrator should never be allowed to be alone with any person below the age of 18 until the claims have been resolved.

The discussions regarding siddhanta is actually a healthy sign of the sangha – it means it’s alive and kicking. But this – this is the real test because it requires so much cooperation, tender management and know how.

PP has been empowered to build Gurudevas samidhi and does a wonderful job at that. His followers are enthusiastic and receive a lot of joy from working with him. This is not something to marginalize in any way. All I’m saying is that these allegations needs to be dealt with and resolved somehow.

There can be no room for such allegations to run amok within our community.

Update 08. october: When I first heard the rumor I was told it was children involved. Now that I have more sources and evidence, this seems mistaken. The alleged victims involved are young adults. Though we are still speaking of a crime, it lessens the heaviness of the issue a lot. So this should be noted by everyone.


I need to point out that this is something I have decided to publish on my own (like everything on this blog). It’s not something I have asked any devotee from KBM about.

 

What to believe?

The question of authenticity of the biography of Premananda Prabhu has reared it’s head again with Bhaktivedanta Damodara Maharaja. Then comes the refutations.

Damodar Maharaja points out specific flaws in the biography from Premananda Prabhu with page numbers, and especially whether these stories can be verified. The refutations claims the stories can be verified, but points to one person who is dead and therefore can’t speak for himself. Then of course, they claim that two devotees following Premananda can verify it, whereby Damodar Maharaja claims they may be lying.

So who to believe? It goes into the heart of difficulty: “Who to trust?”

We would like to think devotees are inherently trustworthy, but that may not be so.

How do we know if somebody is a pure devotee or not? Followers of Prabhuji claims he is, KBM claims he isn’t. The followers of KBM claims Didi and Madhusudhana Maharaja is Bhagavats, others think they are imposters and fabricators.

Who to believe?

First time I met Gurudeva, Aranya Maharaja (now Prema Prajojana) said I should take Harinama from him.
Me: “But I don’t know if he is a pure devotee. Should I take Harinama if I’m not sure?”
Aranya Maharaja: “Yes”.

In some ways I was tricked into taking Harinama, but I was lucky. Gurudeva turned out to be a pure devotee. But how could I have known He was? I didn’t have the vision to know and I still don’t. My way of reasoning was that He had such a great many followers, so therefore I had to take my trust in them.

Now we are in a position where we have so many groups and differences between them. What to belive?

“The path of bhakti is very small”, I saw in a comment from one of the devotees from KBM. It’s true.

A person may have served and surrendered his life to Krishna and his Guru, but it doesn’t mean he is a Bhagavat. There may still be so much aparadha there, a desire for followers and fame. It’s possible to serve Krishna tinged with self-service.

I’m one of those. I want to live a comfortable life while being a devotee. Because of this I also know that I can’t fool around. When I decide to take siksa from someone, I want it to be authentic.

We have to guard our creeper of devotion.

14333619_10210831706654500_9123197055925300308_n

 

 

 

Krishna will cheat us if we have some self-service in us. Many follow Gurudeva blindly. I’m not one of them, even though I have taken diksa from Gurudeva. For me this world is the real one, so if what He tells me is true, He has to prove it every step of the way. So far Gurudeva has proven it in the personal growth I have had, and that I see how what He says aligns with that. But in my perspective, Gurudeva has to prove himself to me. He’s the one with the outrageous claims of a spiritual world we can enter, so He’s gotta prove it. I will use my intelligence every step of the way.

When I first heard and saw pictures of Bhakti Vijana Bharati Maharaja I felt an attraction to him. Then the debate between KBM and the rest of the sangha happened, and I had to use my intelligence to understand the siddhanta. I found that Didi and Madhusudana Maharaja presented the siddhanta expertly and convincingly. Since then I went to Vrindavin last Christmas and will go again this Christmas. Do I believe Didi and Madhusudhan Maharaja is Bhagavats? I don’t know. I know their followers believe so. I’m still on the fence, but I find their way of challenging the status quo to be interesting. That is what makes me curious. I see how the siddhanta is presented deeper than I have been able to penetrate – that makes me curious.

What is it that makes us want to follow somebody? For me it’s about the level of siddhanta they can present. If I struggle to follow it, I love it because it challenges me to go deeper, understand more. That attracts me.

What attracts you? Why does it attract you?

Bhakti – Love is an emotion. Who to follow should not only be an emotional decision. It also needs to be grounded in intelligence. Use it whatever way you decide.

The Dark night of the soul

Depression is a psychological sickness, a dark night is a spiritual trial
Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

Sometimes our faith is seriously challenged. It happens when something earth shattering
happens to us. It can be rape, abuse, torture, depression, natural disasters, sick loved ones, chronic pain, a debilitated child, death of a child. It can happen in a second and change everything. It can happen over a long, long time.

Our faith is tested, and we may not come out the other side victorious. This momentous change has broken something in us. The “idea” of justice, the idea that our body is our own, the idea that we have the right to live a life in private, that our lives matter and is valued.

We may experience that this is not the case. We may experience that basic human needs are a privilege not afforded to us. In its wake, we become broken. It’s such a huge paradigm shift that we begin to classify our lives before and after the event.

After The Event, we are somebody else. We are different. In its wake we are shattered, in
pieces and we don’t know how to put ourselves back together again. We realize that it’s not possible to be the person we were before this happened.

We have to become something else because we are different. We may begin to think that we have to become something else – but this something else is something lesser. Something worse and because of it we become an even worse person – happiness becomes denied to us.

Or we can choose the other side and decide the event will have melted us down and in its wake we will become molded into something much stronger.

It’s a decision. If it’s already in your life spark, it will come forward in time.

But in the mean time one may have to take a leave of absence when it comes to faith.
It may even be healthy for us to do so.

There’s so much pain that needs to be released after such an event. The pain has filled us up and leave little or no room for faith to work on us.
The belief that we can change, that the belief changes us.

Belief is a feeling that resides in us, and that feeling have gone. We stopped feeling it and we feel lost.

Where do we go from here?

We will know within us what steps to take. If we need a break, we will know it and should listen to it.
But it’s equally important to listen when the whisper within us tells us to try to move back.
We have to learn to listen to the whisper, heed its call, even when it seems counter to everything we have learned.
If we keep on pushing because our minds tells us a different story from the whisper of our hearts, we become harder. Less tolerant, more fragile.

I haven’t reached the end of my Dark night of the soul, so I can’t tell you what is there at the end. I do believe I have moved towards rehabilitation, but I still live under a constant threat.

A true dark night of the soul is not a surface challenge but a development that takes you away from the joy of your ordinary life.

Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

This experience has changed me. I used to believe that man was inherently good. This belief is gone in me. Now I believe that man is selfish and I instead look at people and wonder how much will they try to take and damage in me. I’m a very open person, but this is slowly changing. I don’t believe in the goodness in people anymore.

I’m alone and there is so little goodness afforded me from other people. People will happily accept good from others and give so little in return. Forgetting what they themselves have received.

There are people that want to harm you and that derive great satisfaction from the damage they are doing to you. They can be relentless, never stopping where days turn into weeks, months and suddenly a year has gone by. They never stop hurting you because it satisfies the empty whole in their being. They have no conscience.

Now I will be able to recognize this defect in people. I have learned how to maneuver such bad people. How? By not reacting to their insanity at all, but instead continue like normal as if nothing has happened. To never utter a bad word, instead such people can only be met with nice words even when they hurl evil towards you.
You have to go against your every instinct. Distanced niceness is the only way to deal with them. Never let them get the impression that they are hurting you as they will enjoy it and use that information to do worse.

I have learned a lot. I’m not the same person I was a year ago. I have been denied basic human needs. I have learned that I can be broken. Despite having tolerated not sleeping for about a year, I now know that I can be broken even more. What happens when I will be denied food?

I have tried to find things in the scriptures about evil, but there is none to be found. Instead it talks about the sins. Pride, anger etc, but it becomes shallow compared to what you you go through.

Lower than a blade of grass is what you can become. A grass will always bend when trampled and rise again when untrampled.
Lower than a blade of grass means your life is insignificant. It has not any worth for anybody. It will not be protected.

The police will not be there to help you, not family, not friends. People will instead “disappear” when they realize that something is seriously wrong. Most will not understand what you go through. They will see your strange behavior and think that there is something wrong with you – not understanding that what you really are having is a healthy reaction to a torturous experience.

Because they are unable to comprehend torture. They are unable to comprehend evil they have not experienced themselves.
Even their imaginations fail to imagine something so bad.

You are alone.

What do you do when the scriptures comes up short?

To believe in something is something you do for yourself.

We experience something that is beyond our comprehension. Some take refuge in their belief.I did, then I didn’t when it failed to help me.

It took some time, but in the end I found something that put what I was going through into perspective. I had tried to understand the evil I experienced, but there was nothing on that. It didn’t occur to me to look into suffering. May be because I was in such pain that I didn’t want to read about it as well. I didn’t want to hear about how we have to tolerate suffering when I was barely functioning and didn’t understand what I was dealing with.

It can seem like whatever happened is not spiritually conducive. For example when devotees die too early in tragic accidents. It appears meaningless.

The dark night of the soul is a transformation. We’re unable to see what that transformation is because we are not there. I used to think that if God could just tell me what He wanted from me, I would give it to Him. But instead He used the situation to soften me enough to be ready for what He wanted me to do. I was hammered into submission.

I used to think that because we are devotees and trying to use our lives to grow spiritually we were somehow protected. I don’t think like this anymore. I think we experience suffering to grow, but I don’t think we are protected.

Or.. well, that is not entirely correct. I don’t think we should be protected anymore. Suffering is just there, whether we are devotees or not. Suffering is there to be transcended. If we are unable to transcend it, it means we still have something to learn from it. If it is untolerable and it seems like there is no spiritual lesson there, then we might just be in the process of being hammered into something soft enough.

It is said that great personalities almost always accept voluntary inconvenience because of the suffering of people in general. This is considered the highest method of worshiping the Supreme Soul, who is present in everyone’s heart.
Bhagavat Purana 8.7.44

When I became the victim of a malignant narcissist I didn’t understand why I had to go through this. I had already learned the lesson of tolerance (though of course there’s always more tolerance to learn). But why? Why tolerate so much, 24/7 until days became a year?

Sometimes a dark night makes sense because of what it contributes to others, not what it does for you.
Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

Because increased tolerance was only a bi-product of other, more important lessons. I’m able to chant mentally now all the time. I would quickly be able to recognize a person without a conscience if I meet them again. I know how to deal with those kinds of beings.  But learning to inconvenience myself… that’s a lesson that I still need to develop.

But a step on the way is gratefulness. I had a year of being angry at God, then disappointed, then I needed a break. Then I stopped praying for material things. Slowly, I began just thanking whenever I had a moment of lessening (or not). It’s easy to find something to be grateful about – however small and it didn’t need to be related to my hell at all.

I had reached a stage of understanding. It took forever to understand that I was dealing with a malignant narcissist. It took a longer time to understand what that entails. Then it took forever to get to a place to really learn and practice how to deal with these creatures. I don’t call them human – because they aren’t. They are human like in their shape – but that’s all.  The resemblance ends there.

A Dark night of the soul event transforms us. We are not the same person as before it happened. We have to find joy again, but where we find it might be different. We have to put ourselves together in another way.

I’ve only just begun the process of putting myself together, except this time it will not be with cafe’s, moccas and fixing unhealthy thought patterns reading and digesting personal development books because my thought patterns are okey.

Now I have to put myself together in another way. A deeper way that goes even further. I hear the whisper that tells me what to do. Or actually, the whisper tells me to do something I resist doing. Mostly, I just stay in bed. I have been doing this for months now. I usually have a lot of projects and do so much, and I still do. Only to end up even more exhausted than before. But whenever I wake up and finish with the mechanics of the mornings, I get to the point where I ask myself: What do you want to do today?
The answer is always the same: Stay in bed. So I stay in bed until I have to get up because there’s so much I need to do, except I’m always behind on my chores because I need to stay in bed.

Why do I need to stay in bed? Why am I exhausted beyond physical exhaustion? That’s where the whisper comes in. It tells me to meditate. Do japa. Read books. I need to let go of the thoughts telling me that I need to get a job, to be social, to push through and be a productive member of society.

The whisper tells me I need to do the opposite of what comes natural to me. I have changed, so I need to change into something else because I’m different. The meditation will begin to take me there. The whisper tells me that maybe, just maybe after this dark night I’m supposed to become a tool for God and do whatever He wants me to and that’s why I haven’t been able to get a job. That whisper wants to become a bigger part of me and will begin to show me the way if I just open up for Him. The uncertainty of what will become of me is difficult and part of that dark night. Maybe I’m wrong about everything? What is the meaning of this? What will become of me?

All I know is that there is a big need for me to hibernate, to remove myself from people and the world. To go within – whatever that means.

Finally, and this may be the most difficult task of all, give yourself what you need at the deepest level. Care rather than cure. Organize your life to support the process. You are incubating your soul, not living a heroic adventure. Arrange life accordingly. Tone it down. Get what comforts you can, but don’t move against the process. Concentrate, reflect, think, and talk about your situation seriously with trusted friends.
Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

What I believed to be a big obstacle (the need to rest) is actually a gift. That need has been there for months, and now I understand that it will not disappear until I have done exactly that and extracted the gifts in this need. Because behind this need is an even deeper calling I need to heed.

 

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
Carl Jung

 

Living a story

There are different ways of learning, but there is one way of learning that is very effective with devotees. It’s experience. Being put into hard situations where we somehow have to learn how to swim.

I have been quiet for some time now.

It’s because I’m living a story now. A story that is changing me. How I am. How I deal with things. I’m not the same person I was just six months ago.

I think the hard part of the story is over now.

Now I’m dealing with the aftermath. I have to work out a new way of being, of living. I loved my life before “the big paradigm shift” happened. Now I have to figure out a new way of happiness because I’m different.

This is how change works. I would never be able to write this blog if I didn’t have the ability to change. So please bear with me and forgive me. I’m on my way back to you. I wonder how my association with this blog changes. It will be exciting for me to see.

For You

By Madan Oppenheimer

I write for you seekers,
for I’m one of you;
I share things found on the way.

I search for the exit,
the way out of matter;
imprisoned in night and day.

I try to be honest,
and filter out falsehood;
for me life isn’t a game.

I write for you seekers
so I’ll feel less lonely;
I’m hoping you’ll feel the same.

Source: Waves of Devotion

Constantly chanting

13177750_10208391170194310_732364206427738780_nI was introduced to Krishna consciousness when I was 17, and got into it immediately. I quickly understood one was supposed to chant all the time – literally. I was new – I was pumped with enthusiasm and I was blissfully unaware and ignorant of what spiritual life really was.

I tried to chant, but was not good at it. I tried to remember to always chant, but I was completely unable to do so. I didn’t understand that I had no qualification to chant much and I couldn’t understand why it didn’t happen. So in the end, I got upset with Krishna and told him in no uncertain terms that I should be chanting the maha mantra mentally, continuosly, without stop.

……….. and I was heard.

It’s such a long time ago, but I think in the beginning I was pleased. My mind was chanting the maha-mantra on it’s own. My mind was taken over by this process which kept on chanting. It took over all my capacity. Sure, I was able to do things, but the mantra was shouting in my head, not letting me go. The hours past, a day went by. I don’t know how long I lasted.

In the end I was exhausted. I wanted my mind back. The mantra was so loud in my mind, it didn’t let me think of other stuff, it left no room for other things than the mantra. I ended up praying to Krishna to please take the mantra away. I couldn’t take it anymore.

…. and the mantra let go of me. I sighed in relief. It was finally quiet in my mind again. Now I could fill the mind with whatever I wanted.

Years went past. I had similar experiences without me needing to ask for it. The mantra came into my mind and lodged itself there.

At some point I recognized that something new had happened – that the mantra had spawned off as it’s own process in my mind. I could be doing something, thinking on whatever – and suddenly realize that I was chanting. The chanting process was working on me even if I had completely forgotten it and been focusing on something else for a long time. Then a moment of recognition came when I realize that the mantra was still doing it’s work.

But I still had the same experience, the mantra at some point exhausted me and I had to ask it to please leave. At some point even though the mantra may have been soft, it felt like it was shouting in my mind and I just wanted some peace of mind.

More years went by, and I haven’t really paid much attention to this mantra process and it has been taking a back burner. Though, it have been as recently as this year that I still had to ask the mantra to leave me.

But I have also not been satisfied with my japa efforts. I have tried to get back in the saddle and do well for a small amount of time. Then I accepted that I’m not in a place where sitting down to do japa is what I need to do now.

So what was left?

I haven’t consistently chanted 16 rounds of japa for years and years. But then the thought struck me – if I just keep on chanting in my mind all day long – what is the need for sitting down to do japa?

I remembered all my failures at mentally chanting. Then I thought that it didn’t matter anymore.

So I began to chant mentally. This time I had to work on the mantra. It didn’t come to me and lodged itself in my mind. But the mantra was soft, a nice whisper in my mind and as I was going about my day, the mantra was with me. Sometimes I got so immersed into what I was doing that I forgot the mantra. Then I just began the process again.

Sometimes I was immersed in my activities, only to realize that the mantra process was still there without me even “hearing” it.

Then the moment came, where the mantra was so loud in my mind. It was shouting and it made me tired. But this time I had a plan on how to deal with it: I asked Gurudeva and Krishna to please soften the mantra in my mind. I didn’t want to loose it, just that it took a little less space.

…….. and I was heard.

This has been going on for a week now I think. I don’t count the days, because this is of no effort to me. Only once have I needed to ask the mantra to please soften.

It doesn’t feel intruding anymore – instead its soft, quiet, calm. It gives me space. It keeps with me, it leaves me. I just chant and get it back on track when I notice it. Hours turns into days.

And somehow my qualification to chant continously took twenty years. Anything worth doing requires a lot of time and troubleshooting to get qualified. It requires that we recognize our limitations and work within them. And when we see our limitations and start to think of how we can move around them – that’s when the breakthrough comes.

Is there room for all rasas in the Gaudiya Lineage?

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Whenever somebody (isckon) had a statement to show that Narayana Majaraja (Gurudeva) preached something different from Srila Prabhupada, Gurudeva refuted it. There is even a book which lists the different misconceptions and refutations: Our Gurus: One in siddhanta, one in heart. Very good examples of misconceptions is that one couldn’t speak about the pasttimes of manjaris and whether the jivas fell from vaikuntha or the tatastha region.

The speciality that Gurudeva came to give us was the manjari mood. Nobody had spoken openly about this until Gurudeva received the blessing to do so. It wasn’t forbidden, just hidden.

That Gurudeva had to clear up some misconceptions after Srila Prabhupadas disappearance was to be expected. So isn’t it to be expected that there will be some weeds that needs to be cleared after Gurudevas disappearance as well? The devotees may have matured in their understanding, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t things to deal with.

The belief that the Gaudiya lineage can only contain those in manjari mood seem to be one of the weeds that have grown. There is two misconceptions that are linked: Caitanya Mahaprabhu only came to give the manjari mood and that one can only be a rupanuga if you follow Rupa Goswamis mood.

yuga-dharma pravartāimu nāma-saṅkīrtana
cāri bhāva-bhakti diyā nācāmu bhuvana

I shall personally inaugurate the religion of the age, nama-sankirtana. I shall distribute the four mellows of devotional service (dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya).

Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi-lila 3.19

Caitanya Mahaprabhu had external and internal reasons to manifest himself. One of the internal reasons was to taste the manjari mood (and more specifically Srimati Radhikas moods). So can only those who follow the inner mood of Mahaprabhu be a follower of him?

Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi-lila 3.19 refutes this. Mahaprabhu came to distribute the four rasas to everybody, but He Himself relished the madhurya mood. So do you have to only follow Mahaprabhus moods to be a follower of His teachings? Of course not, the verse refutes this.

The same thing with who can be called a rupanuga. You don’t have to follow Rupa Goswamis moods to be a follower of His teachings. His book “Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu” delineates how to go from the lowest stage of bhakti until prema. If you have a mood different from manjari, you can still follow the stages Rupa Goswami has described, and therefore follow his teachings.

It would be strange of our Parampara could only consist of manjaris. That there is a predominance of manjaris in the parampara is without question, but if it only could be manjaris – where would the other rasas go?

The spiritual world supports all the rasas and somehow they even manage to cooperate to serve Krishna. But in this world we have to create a distinct line between the rasas without cooperation? The different rasas have to have different lineages? It doesn’t make sense.

There are four different recognized sampradayas:

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Nowhere is there a lineage below the Brahma sampradaya that says that each rasa has their own lineage. There may be certain villages and biological families that have a predominance of a certain mood, but that doesn’t make them a lineage in their own right. The community and village of Saptagrama were especially blessed by Nityananda Prabhu (from O My Friend).

Even the origin of our sampradaya and creation (Lord Brahma) is in sakhya-rasa.

Narada is a bit of a special case, but he is identified with Madhumangala-sakha. As Narada he is in dasya-rasa, but Krishna also had Narada experience madhurya-rasa as Naradiya Gopi.

Vyasadeva appears in Gaura lila as Vrindavan Das Thakura who also had the cowherd boy Kusumapida inside of him.

Sukadeva who is in dasya mood, but somehow still was given the empowerment to speak Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Let’s entertain the thought that Nityananda manifested himself now – in 2016. The same Nityananda that we perform artik to with Gauranga. Nityananda is steeped in sakhya bhava. Would we say to him: “I’m sorry. You are in sakhya bhava, so you can’t possibly be in our Guru parampara. You have to go to your own lineage.”

Why would we limit Nityananda so? Are we afraid that if our mood is madhurya, that Nityananda can’t give it to us? Do we think that Nityananda can’t arrange the madhurya mood to manifest in us? There is no need to create boundaries for what siddha-dehas can do, they are expert at arranging Krishnas pastimes. They are probably expert at “arranging” us conditioned beings as well.

It becomes doubly laughable, because who is the original spiritual master? Nityananda who is the first direct manifestation of Balarama. To say he isn’t in our Guru parampara because he has sakhya bhava is apasiddhanta.

I would happily receive guidance from a pure devotee in another mood than mine, and I will have no doubts that he will be able to arrange the blossoming of madhurya mood in somebody else. I would even go so far and say that (S)He is in the Gaudiya Lineage. It’s not so far fetched really.

Interlude

I don’t like myself right now. I don’t like this person.

I don’t like that I’m not working on my sadhana. I don’t like that I’m not working on progressing spiritually. Sure, I’m staying connected, even if it means just one maha-mantra a day, but there is no realizations. Nothing. This is not the person that I am.

My faith is the most beautiful about me, and its not even mine. It was given to me by gurudeva. This faith is still there, shining so very brightly. Still I’m so out of touch with it.

I miss being a devotee. I really need to be under Didis guidance and supervision right now.

This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to be under guidance. Sometimes we become lost and we need a little help on the way.

 

What kind of devotee do I want to be?

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I’m focusing on one verse for the moment:

teṣāṁ satata-yuktānāṁ
bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
yena mām upayānti te

teṣām — unto them; satatayuktānām — always engaged; bhajatām — in rendering devotional service; prītipūrvakam — in loving ecstasy; dadāmi — I give; buddhiyogam — real intelligence; tam — that; yena — by which; mām — unto Me; upayānti — come; te — they.

To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.

Bhagavad-gita 10.10

Why do one have to be constantly devoted to be given understanding?

I don’t think it’s true that Krishna only give the understanding to those that are constantly devoted. We have been taught that if we give one percent, then Krishna will help us with one percent as well (does anybody have a reference to this?).

But it also begs the question: What kind of devotee do I want to be? How do I want to be devoted?

“Do I want to be a devotee “is a  yes or no kind of question which gives no information. But the “how” on the other hand  can say a lot about me, where I’m at.

Cows are sacred for us, and they are truly beautiful. But I don’t want to live in a temple, shuffling cow shit or cooking prasadam with my lousy cooking skills. Most devotees have mystic interests and go to healers and shamans and the likes. I consider many (if not all) of the healers etc. to be crooks and have no interests of it.

I like to travel, but I’m not a person who want to do any kind of distribution work, talking to people about Krishna.

I love the association with devotees, as long as I can go home to my own privacy. It’ so easy to define what I don’t want. There is a kind of an expectation of what devotees should be like, always ready for service, whatever that service may be. Then I look at myself and see that I don’t comply to this image of a devotee.

I love quietness, being out in the nature. I would have loved to be payed for studying the sastra. That Didi said that I should share my realizations everywhere, was a true blessing because that’s what I try to do on this blog. It doesn’t mean I represent didi or this tradition (or even Gurudeva). Sharing my journey means I also share my tough times, my struggles, doubts, the conditioned being that I am, my incompleteness which may result in realizations over time.

I love writing all of these things down.

I would like to be a person who takes care of my beautiful deities and work on my japa.

Who I am now is not a “constantly” devoted anything, but the “hows” above is the way I want to approach devotedness.

This begs the next question: How is this service to Gurudeva?

It may be service indirectly. All of my wants is tailored to my nature and not neccessarily to what Gurudeva wants. But how do I know what Gurudeva wants from me? I don’t and I’m not sure that I would be able to fulfill what he wants from me either. So therefore the answer of what kind of devotee I want to be, tells a story of how I want to enjoy devotion.

And truly, I want to enjoy being a devotee. I want to celebrate being a devotee with quietness,  being in nature, studying, chanting, writing, deity care and association.

I used to think that we shouldn’t enjoy being devotees, but now I disagree with myself. I think we should embrace the enjoyment of it fully. The enjoyment indicates we have gotten closer to our true nature.