Progress, Goddamnit!

BellOf those that seeks Krishna there are four kinds:

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

“O best among the Bhāratas, four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service unto Me — the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” Bhagavad-gita 7.16
Of these I among among the distressed, and there have been and are a lot of distress in my life. But now I see something is happening in me. All this distress is crystallizing something in me. I’m suddenly scouring amazon for biographies and I really liked reading The Journey Home by Radanath Swami. I have only been reading devotional books for about two weeks now, and that has never happened before.

It’s a long time since I chanted this much. The latest book I’m reading is Surrender: The Key to Eternal Life and I’m understanding now that to make any progress I have to check myself. How much devotional practice did I do yesterday? Can I see any progress? I have to treat my devotional life like a checkpoint list. I may not be able to progress without any real sadhu-sanga, but there is no way I will let something like that stop me.

Because here’s the thing: my life is meaningless without spirituality in it. It’s the only thing which makes the drudgery and utter futility of my life worth it. I now get up about 5 am every morning for my spiritual practice. I go to work and go through the motions every day, but I feel dead most of the time. I don’t live, I don’t know what it means to have a meaningful life, waking up happy and feeling good. My intelligence and heart is screaming at me: It’s not supposed to be like this. The only time my heart goes still is when I spend time at my spiritual practice. It’s the time when I feel something besides disheartening emotions and sadness. So what is it I feel then? Am I really so out of touch with positive emotions that I can’t name what spirituality do to me?

But keeping tabs on my spiritual life is something I can do. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja had 27 vows he observed daily in his grhastha life. I will have to make up my own list and borrow some from him:

  1. How many hours did you sleep?
  2. At what time did you get out of bed?
  3. How many malas of japa did you chant today?
  4. How long did you spend in nama, nama-smarana, kirtana today?
  5. How many pranayamas (meditations) did you do today?
  6. For how long did you perform asana today?
  7. For how long did you perform one asana?
  8. Were you regular in your meditation today?
  9. How many Gita slokas did you read today or learn by heart?
  10. How long did you spend in the company of sadhis today (sat-sanga)?
  11. For how long did you observe mauna (silence) today?
  12. How long did you spend in disinterested selfless service today?
  13. How much did you give in charity today?
  14. How many mantras did you write today?
  15. How long did you practice in physical exercise today?
  16. How many lies did you tell today, and what did you do to atone for this?
  17. How many times did you get angry today, and for how long and what was your atonement?
  18. How many hours did you spend in useless company today?
  19. How many times did you fail in brahmacarya (celibacy) today?
  20. How long did you spend today in the study of religious books?
  21. How many times did you fall prey to evil habits, and with self-punishment?
  22. How long did you concentrate on your ista-deva, nirguna meditation-spiritual and saguna meditation-material?
  23. What virtues are you developing?
  24. What evil qualities are you trying to eradicate?
  25. What indriya (sense) is troubling you the most?
  26. How many days did you observe in fasting and vigilance?
  27. At what time did you go to bed?

And one can read Gour Govindas excellent biography online, free of charge 😀