Lack of connection (sambandha)

How do you create a connection (sambandha) in your devotional practices?

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I have been contemplating my mood when I chant, and I don’t know how to describe it except neutral. There isn’t much service mood there and trying to force a mood is difficult. Even thinking in those terms, doesn’t make a mood come through.

I watch TV and what I really like is the way I disappear when watching something. I completely forget my life and situation, and I’m absorbed into the TV series. But even series are loosing its hold on me, and I find myself with more time for devotional practices. What strikes me is how difficult it is to feel a connection.

I have been at the place where I looked so forward to the times where I could spend the rest of the evening hours for devotional activities. It was with such joy, and then the feeling of connection was there. But then I had spent time at work reading and going into siddhanta. It’s unusual I have time for that at work.

Usually I chant, read etc. but with a neutral feeling. I like those activities, but I’m still often neutral and with no or little feeling of connection.

What am I missing? What is it that I’m lacking in my knowledge/understanding?

(Sambandha is used to refer to the different types of relationship one can have to krishna, so I’m not even sure I can use the word in the way I’m using it now.)

Aparadha and Anarthas

“Sin is related to body and mind, but an offence is very much related to the soul.” http://bhaktabandhav.com/?p=27819

As I’m trying to enter the maha-mantra more, I’m struck by the importance of offences versus sin. By just uttering the maha-mantra once I consider all my sin to be gone. I don’t care about sin, sins performed in previous lifes or this life. I don’t even care much about the sin I’m performing now, because I know it’s of little consequence as long as I’m sincere in my efforts to improve spiritually.

It might sound like I’m taking the process and vanquishing of sin easily, but it’s not. I have just realized how fleeting and temporary sin is. I have also realized how potent the maha-mantra is in regards to sin. I have been reading the story of Ajamila, and it have been real instructive on just how potent the maha-mantra is.

I’m more interested in the part where the maha-mantra removes material desires, as this is more my problem. Though even that I find is of little consequence. The only method to vanquish material desires is devotional service. So really, all I’m left with is to continue working on my devotional practices and everything will fructify in time. Which I really find spiritual life about, vanquishing obstacles and letting spiritual realizations mature over time.

I can speed up the process though. I know reading about the different stories that are instructive on removing different obstacles is a huge help (just like the story of Ajamila have been in understanding the maha-mantra). When I encounter a problem, I can look up in Srimad-Bhagavatam on the instructions to remove it. The recent action of mine that really sped up my process was when I decided to stop reading material books, and just read devotional books. A flood gate opened up then and I receive more input that I’m able to process – and I love it, of course 🙂 It’s so inspirational.

Offences though are the grave ones. Offences is about the attitude in which you chant and live. Offences is the block in developing humility and service attitude. Offences blocks the development of love, for the mercy to get through to us.

But again I find me asking the same question: Are they really that important? Aren’t offences fleeting, just as sin? If one just keeps on chanting, working, and being sincere: Will not all offences dissolve over time?

Let’s say I commit an offence. Hopefully over time I will realize that I have committed an offence and then I will repent and ask for forgiveness. I know many people have trouble with asking forgiveness because of pride, but I have asked forgiveness many times more than I have received it. If pride is my issue, then I can read Srimad-Bhagavatam and the corresponding stories on how to vanquish pride.

Or let’s take an offense I commit now:

10. To not have complete faith in the chanting of the holy names, and to maintain material attachments, even after hearing many instructions on the matter It is also an offense to be inattentive while chanting.

The solution: To keep chanting.

I just find material life and all it’s components to be really fleeting. Thereby, even sin and offences just seem very fleeting to me.

The 64 limbs (angas) of bhakti

  1. Accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master
  2. Becoming initiated by the spiritual master and learning how to discharge devotional service from him
  3. Obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion
  4. Following in the footsteps of great acaryas under the direction of the spiritual master
  5. inquiring from the spiritual master how to advance in Krishna consciousness
  6. Being prepared to give up anything material for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead
  7. Residing in a sacred place of pilgrimage like Dvaraka or Vrndavana
  8. Accepting only what is necessary or dealing with the material world only as far as necessary.
  9. Observing the fasting day on Ekadasi
  10. Worshipping sacred trees like the banyan tree
  11. One should rigidly give up the company of nondevotees.
  12. One should not instruct a person who is not desirous of accepting devotional service.
  13. One should not be very enthusiastic about constructing costly temples or monasteries.
  14. One should not try to read too many books, nor should one develop the idea of earning his livelihood by lecturing on or professionally reciting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or Bhagavad-gītā.
  15. One should not be neglectful in ordinary dealings.
  16. One should not be under the spell of lamentation in loss or jubilation in gain.
  17. One should not disrespect the demigods.
  18. One should not give unnecessary trouble to any living entity.
  19. One should carefully avoid the various offenses in chanting the holy name of the Lord or in worshiping the Deity in the temple.
  20. One should be very intolerant toward the blasphemy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, or His devotees.
  21. One should decorate the body with tilaka, which is the sign of the Vaiṣṇavas. (The idea is that as soon as a person sees these marks on the body of the Vaiṣṇava, he will immediately remember Kṛṣṇa. Lord Caitanya said that a Vaiṣṇava is he who, when seen, reminds one of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, it is essential that a Vaiṣṇava mark his body with tilaka to remind others of Kṛṣṇa.)
  22. In marking such tilaka, sometimes one may write Hare Kṛṣṇa on the body.
  23. One should accept flowers and garlands that have been offered to the Deity and the spiritual master and put them on one’s body.
  24. One should learn to dance before the Deity.
  25. One should learn to bow down immediately upon seeing the Deity or the spiritual master.
  26. As soon as one visits a temple of Lord Kṛṣṇa, one must stand up.
  27. When the Deity is being borne for a stroll in the street, a devotee should immediately follow the procession. (In this connection it may be noted that in India, especially in Viṣṇu temples, the system is that apart from the big Deity who is permanently situated in the main area of the temple, there is a set of smaller Deities which are taken in procession in the evening. In some temples it is the custom to hold a big procession in the evening with a band playing and a nice big umbrella over the Deities, who sit on decorated thrones on the cart or palanquin, which is carried by devotees. The Deities come out onto the street and travel in the neighborhood while the people of the neighborhood come out to offer prasāda. The residents of the neighborhood all follow the procession, so it is a very nice scene. When the Deity is coming out, the servitors in the temple put forward the daily accounts before Them: so much was the collection, so much was the expenditure. The whole idea is that the Deity is considered to be the proprietor of the whole establishment, and all the priests and other people taking care of the temple are considered to be the servants of the Deity. This system is very, very old and is still followed. So, therefore, it is mentioned here that when the Deity is on stroll the people should follow behind.)
  28. A devotee must visit a Viṣṇu temple at least once or twice every day, morning and evening. (In Vṛndāvana this system is followed very strictly. All the devotees in town go every morning and evening to visit different temples. Therefore during these times there are considerable crowds all over the city. There are about five thousand temples in Vṛndāvana city. Of course it is not possible to visit all the temples, but there are at least one dozen very big and important temples which were started by the Gosvāmīs and which should be visited.)
  29. One must circumambulate the temple building at least three times. (In every temple there is an arrangement to go around the temple at least three times. Some devotees go around more than three times — ten times, fifteen times — according to their vows. The Gosvāmīs used to circumambulate Govardhana Hill.) One should also circumambulate the whole Vṛndāvana area.
  30. One must worship the Deity in the temple according to the regulative principles. (Offering ārati and prasāda, decorating the Deity, etc. — these things must be observed regularly.)
  31. One must render personal service to the Deities.
  32. One must sing.
  33. One must perform sańkīrtana.
  34. One must chant.
  35. One must offer prayers.
  36. One must recite notable prayers.
  37. One must taste mahā-prasāda (food from the very plate offered before the Deities).
  38. One must drink caraṇāmṛta (water from the bathing of the Deities, which is offered to guests).
  39. One must smell the incense and flowers offered to the Deity.
  40. One must touch the lotus feet of the Deity.
  41. One must see the Deity with great devotion.
  42. One must offer ārati (ārātrika) at different times.
  43. One must hear about the Lord and His pastimes from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā and similar books.
  44. One must pray to the Deity for His mercy.
  45. One should remember the Deity.
  46. One should meditate upon the Deity.
  47. One should render some voluntary service.
  48. One should think of the Lord as one’s friend.
  49. One should offer everything to the Lord.
  50. One should offer a favorite article (such as food or a garment).
  51. One should take all kinds of risks and perform all endeavors for Kṛṣṇa’s benefit.
  52. In every condition, one should be a surrendered soul.
  53. One should pour water on the tulasī tree.
  54. One should regularly hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and similar literature.
  55. One should live in a sacred place like Mathurā, Vṛndāvana or Dvārakā.
  56. One should offer service to Vaiṣṇavas (devotees).
  57. One should arrange one’s devotional service according to one’s means.
  58. In the month of Kārttika (October and November), one should make arrangements for special services.
  59. During Janmāṣṭamī (the time of Kṛṣṇa’s appearance in this world) one should observe a special service.
  60. One should do whatever is done with great care and devotion for the Deity.
  61. One should relish the pleasure of Bhāgavatam reading among devotees and not among outsiders.
  62. One should associate with devotees who are considered more advanced.
  63. One should chant the holy name of the Lord.
  64. One should live in the jurisdiction of Mathurā.

 

I was searching for the 64 limbs of bhakti, but was unable to find them. So I looked it up in my Nectar of Devotion. I noticed that the vedabase’s Nectar of Devotion is lacking the first 10 items. I just wanted to make the 64 limbs easily available by search.