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.

What problem?

After being denied control over my sleep, denied the ability to control sounds around me, denied privacy. I get away from it from some days, and I think: How small my problems was before. How I wasted my time, always attached to some problems.

I have my health, I’m not in physical pain, may be my punishment is not so bad. I go crazy with no sleep over a long time, but still… I am healthy. When dealing with a narcissist, you are not powerful in the doing. You are powerful in ignoring whatever adverse situation there is. You can only accept (and buy custom made earplugs made for sleep).

Even if he kills living beings, he who is free from the ego of being the doer and whose intelligence is not attached to the results of his activities does not truly kill, nor is he bound by the result of his action.

Bhagavad-gita 18.17

How I have wasted my life with this incessant worry over insignificant problems. Creating problems of my own.

I, who have been expert at solving whatever problems I have. I’m expert at learning skills and employing them – going so far as learning to service my own car, do home renovations, sound proofing. What is it that I can’t figure out and deal with?

But this need to control sleep, sound, the thoughts of the mind and privacy is dictating my inner environment. But I am not powerful in the doing. I am powerful in the being, accepting, to continue living a life that is really extraordinary for me. I have been given a gift disguised as poison. It’s just been a lot of work trying to unwrap this gift. Understanding it. To blossom (/not dying) under extreme adverse conditions.

Krishna is really making me work hard for him. The funny thing is: How easy it is for Him to maneuver me into evolving. How He must enjoy this and laugh of me, knowing I have no choice than to evolve. That my childish rage and disobeyment is of no consequence.

I used to think that Krishna would have a hard time to evolve my subtle understanding when I came to such a mentally healthy place, really enjoying life. How naive I was, how wonderfully, blissfully ignorant I was.

Instead I’m amazed at Krishna’s ingenuity. What a genius move! How assured He must be in knowing I will not leave.

I am not powerful in the doing.

What a powerful lesson I’m learning.

krishna_arjuna_Mahabharata-Kurukshetra1

Are we brainwashed?

Whenever I hear preachers giving Harikatha, they are enthusiastically talking about how Krishna will support us, the maha-mantra will deliver the whole world, we are so fortunate to have association with pure devotees etc. I find myself looking at their enthusiasm with a bit of an unbelief. Do they really believe what they say? Wholeheartedly? I see the enthusiasm, I see the glimmer in their eyes, and I wonder. How are they able to do that?

I wouldn’t be able to preach something I don’t believe. I question everything, including myself. One of the main mysteries is simply this: Why do I keep on believing in Gurudeva and Krishna consciousness? I don’t understand what drives me forward. Really.

The vedas said that Vishnu grew the universe from a lotus from his navel. I mean, if I were a designer, sure – why wouldn’t I create the universe from a lotus from my navel?

Bhu-mandal is like lotus petals – why not a rose? Isn’t this a sign of lack of creativity using the lotus parabole again and again? Lotus eyes, lotus feet.

And the feets. I bow down to feets, wash, massage, a speck of dust from the feets. I mean, this is a language of reverence telling us how to view everything as holy. The language itself is set up to brainwash us. Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Goswami Maharaja tridandi…. the titles themselves take up so much space that you hardly see the person. The language hides the person behind all the titles. It creates awe, reverence, a bit of fear of what the person might know (about you).

We walk around and bow down to a bush, for christ sake. The dolls on the altar are real. I will give you all these details about a fairy tale, and if you just believe hard enough, you will get there like in the Wizard of Oz.

Yet… when we discuss sastra, we do it logically, based on sastra. We look at the arguments and try to find holes in them.

The truth is, the reason we keep on working on our bhajan is an emotional decision. When we need to defend our reasons, we do it logically even though it’s an emotional decision behind it.

When things are incredibly hard, why can’t I give it up? I want to eat meat because it’s convenient, but every time I actually contemplate it I become so grossed out. I can’t imagine a life without Krishna, though I find it so unfair that he makes it so hard to reach him. It takes millions of lifetimes to reach him – I mean, this is ridiculous. He will never show himself to us unless we are 100% devoted – I mean, this is ridiculous. Why not before so that I’m motivated? It’s cruel to make it so hard. Why can’t I enjoy my moccas while serving him at the same time?

Why do I have to become 100% brainwashed before He “proves” himself?

And yet.. this is still the deal I have signed up for, and I think it’s fine. I will just continue like before and if He wants me He will get me there. If not, well, fine.

Why do I keep on believing in Gurudeva and Krishna consciousness?

All I can say is that it’s an emotional decision. Brainwashed or not. But I still question everything.

 

Why do bad things happen to good devotees?

18422_496260270410358_1689781222_n1When hardships befall us, it’s easy to blame Krishna. I do. Krishna takes control of our lives, so that means that whatever hardships that happen is because of Krishnas will. That’s a hard opinion to have, but I do. I did. I also say Krishna takes control of our lives – not Guru. It’s easier to blame Krishna, than Guru. Guru becomes too personal, I don’t want to weaken the bond.

In the beginning I thought that when we got initiated that Guru took away our karma. Now I know that he doesn’t. Guru engages us instead in devotional service that destroys karma. It is said that chanting one Nama removes sins from countless lives. So why do bad things still happen to good devotees?

Karma in the life of a devotee is a very complex subject. Insastra it is said that chanting a mere reflection of the holy name of Krishna (namabhasa) has the power to destroy one’s manifest (prarabdha) karma.

Karma and Sri Guru

Wouldn’t our chanting lessen the burden to the degree that bad things became obsolete in  devotees?

Now I understand that karma in aspiring devotees are instead lessened, not removed. It means bad things will still happen, but the effect of it will be lessened. Last for a shorter time.

Hearing and chanting about Krishna under the guidance of sri guru combined with the guru’s grace destroys one’s karma. Of the two, effort in sadhana and the grace of the guru, the latter is more important, linga bhuyastvat tad hi baliyah tad api(Vs. 3.3.45).

So as long as we keep on serving our own interests, karma will be on our tail. Karma still can’t be proved in any way. It’s still a theoretical knowledge to me, but I guess all of this philosophy is. Knowledge without realizations.

So how can this help us in our understanding of hardships? For me it soothes a little bit knowing that my karma has been lessened. By understanding this I take away a little of the blame I’m placing at Krishnas feet.

This relation I have to krishna now – the anger, the blame, the disappointment. There isn’t much aishvarya there. This is personal. This is my heart. He has to take the good with the bad, just as I am right now and in the future.

I can’t see how these hardships will strengthen our bond, how this will make me closer to Him.

But of course, you can’t see that when you are in the middle of it. Only long after the dust has settled.

 

Karma bullshit

KRISHNA’S MERCY IS ALWAYS THERE FOR THE DEVOTEE

“O Madhava, Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord of the goddess of fortune, if devotees completely in love with You sometimes fall from the path of devotion, they do not fall like nondevotees, for You still protect them. Thus they fearlessly traverse the heads of their opponents and continue to progress in devotional service.” Srimad Bhagavatam 10.2.33

I realize that I have had a superficial look at karma. When it comes to karma, we have a theoretical approach to it. Mine was: “The unjustness of the world is proof that karma exist”. Fairness is a universal expectations everybody have…. except of course life is anything but fair. So what when that unfairness strikes hard at devotees?

[The Visnudutas to the Yamadutas]: Authorities who are learned scholars and sages have carefully ascertained that one should atone for the heaviest sins by undergoing a heavy process of atonement and one should atone for lighter sins by undergoing lighter atonement. Chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, however, vanquishes all the effects of sinful activities, regardless of whether heavy or light. 

So if one has chanted for years, then experiences some heavy duty karma. It doesn’t exactly looks as if the mantra vanquishes anything. If we do talk about karma in such a situation then it’s still superficial. Whatever happens to us, we just superficially attribute it to karma. But we can’t prove karma in any way, it’s just guesswork.

I’m not so sure I believe in karma anymore. All the talk about how wonderfully beneficial it is to chant and devote ourselves to Krishna – I don’t see or realize the benefits.