Nearing the end

 

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I’ve moved and are now in place. Simon has started kindergarten and I’ve had the last day in my job. On Monday I’m officially unemployed. I still have a lot of boxes everywhere, but life has resumed it’s busy pace.

I really love the new place. It’s so very much me. It’s open, light, big windows from floor to ceiling with view to the patio outside. It’s closer to nature.

I’ve prayed for my life to stabilize, slow down. I’m hoping this will enable me to do more bhajan, work on my relationship with Gurudeva and Krishna. My life has already slowed down a little bit, but it takes a while before it registers with me. It takes a while before I feel less overwhelmed, before my todo lists reach a low level. It’s slowly happening. The things I do now, are things I only need to do once like installing lamps etc.

I have begun to read/recite the Srimad-Bhagavatam every day. I was inspired to do so after reading a beautiful story about bhakti devi that I had never heard before.

katha bhagavatasyapi nityam bhavati yad grhe
tad grham tirtha-rupam hi vasatam papa-nasanam

asva-medha-sahasrani vajapeya-satani ca
suka-sastra-kathayas ca kalam narhanti sodasim
(Bhagavata-mahatmyam, Pt.3, verse 29-30)

“Any home where bhagavata-katha is recited daily, any place where bhagavata-patha pravacana has been organised, becomes a holy place. The sinful reactions of the residents of that place will be dissolved. One may perform one thousand asvamedha-yajnas, horse sacrifices, or one hundred vajapeya-yajnas, but their results cannot be compared to one-sixteenth the benefit of hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam.

 

The apartment I got feels like a gift, and I really would like if that gift was something that would enhance my bhajana. I wake up each day now feeling good. I’ve come to a place internally that is really good, and I find myself thinking that I will be lead towards places where I’m needed. Where I can spread sunshine.

The former owner of the apartment had a text on the wall which said “Believe you could make a difference”. It annoyed me, because if you only believe something – then your not doing it. So I removed some letters until it stated “make a difference”. You either make a difference or you don’t, and I make a difference each day. I want to make things better by my presence and I try to do this every day. The best way of doing this is to spend every day for spiritual development. So I do a little each day hoping it becomes a stronger current each day.

I’m so fortunate that I met Gurudeva and that he left a lasting impression on me. Those who meet an uttama-bhagavata is really the most fortunate people. We stop becoming lost. Our lives have purpose, we just have to learn to work towards that purpose.

Using criticism as a supression technique

It bugs me the way the scare of criticism is used to stop discussions instead of moving discussions forward. It seems like we are so afraid to make offenses that we are moving backwards instead of forward.

So let’s define the basics. What is criticism? Do you have a clear idea what it actually is?
So the book definition is as follows:

: the act of expressing disapproval and of noting the problems or faults of a person or thing

: the act of criticizing someone or something

: a remark or comment that expresses disapproval of someone or something

: the activity of making careful judgments about the good and bad qualities of books, movies, etc.

I would like to add another dimension to criticism that I think very few are aware of.

Bhakti is feelings of love in different varieties. What if the danger of criticism is linked to the feelings that criticism gives?

So if one is able to criticize, but know how to do this with love…. Then that may be one of the reasons why a pure devotee can criticize, but most people not. The keyword here is to criticize with the correct intention. If you have the correct intention – then the correct feeling naturally follows.

You see, never criticize to hurt another person. You criticize to help them, but you do it in a very careful way where it’s not about you and your feelings/ego. I don’t even like using the word criticism because what I usually try to do is to hint about direction of where I think things should be going. Rarely I take the direct approach (which is prone to backfire), but people very quickly catch on that I mean them no harm because they see it in my manners, in how I look at them. That I care about them.

When receiving criticism, make sure to check a persons intention.If the intention is good, something interesting can come out of it. Don’t use the fear of criticism to stop what can be a good discussion. Instead, deal with criticism in a mature way. Take the discussion, sit with the uncomfortableness of it when it gets heated and a bit ugly because that’s where the most learning can be for all parties. This approach does require a very mature person, though. But don’t use fear of criticism to stop what can be a good discussion. Learn how to use a discussion to enhance people.

Learn to say you are sorry when you see that you have made an error in your dealings, and don’t expect gracefulness back.

Criticism is dangerous, that’s why we need to have good understanding of what it is, how to wield it and use it in a constructive way.

Which I rarely see, but I wish it was a quality that people could try to understand and develop. Then discussions would take on a whole different level of maturity, and of really trying to understand others point of view. Then criticism will actually disappear because it will instead be a sharing of hearts with the wonderful understanding that sometimes we agree to disagree and that is okey.

Same old, same old

Ah, things doesn’t change much, does it? People change so very, very slowly.

So it’s back on track. On the same day, two different communiqués are published. One is on Bhaktabhandav and is about Sri Premananda Prabhu’s relation to Srila Gurudeva and the sorry state of Gurudeva’s samadhi. On backtobhakti there’s an article about how we all should just get a long, but not any reference on what this is about or how to actually resolve issues.

I’m so sick of this. It’s like a rerun of how isckon crashed after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, just much less ugly – which shows some progress after all to get on the bright side of things. Here’s the problem in a nut shell:

Our whole religion and organization is built upon the Guru system. You have one all powerful guy that pretty much runs the show. When that person disappears, everything breaks down. Why?

Since there is no organizational structure, no leaders and no recognition of leadership, it comes down to small chiefs who runs and bullies whatever they want. We follow those we believe are the most “spiritual”, which is a pretty subjective thing depending on the vision of each individual. So we have a lot of individuals running around, trying to gather up as much followers and power (money) and do some backstabbing if necessary. Small kings on small kingdoms.

To try to create some unification ipbsys have created an advisory board, but of course: Small chiefs don’t care much about advisory boards if it goes against their wishes. I have no idea if the advisory board itself works.

It takes maturity to deal with so much problems. It takes mature people guiding and working with people the whole time to be able to work itself through things.

Now, I can talk about how to deal with conflicts because there seem to be little knowledge on how to deal with it. First you confront a problem, have it clearly defined by the people having the problem and then you work through it. More articles of the type “you should not criticize” and the reference to the Harmony booklet is of no use. But of course, small kings don’t want to deal with problems unless it brings an advantage to them.

But most importantly, it only takes one individual to create a whole lot of good. Our whole parampara consists of one person who was enlightened and achieved so, so much. Our society is built around people and organizations, but our parampara is build on one person. There’s this mismatch there.

The veda’s clearly define that we need to approach an uttama-bhagavata. But it seems like what to do after an uttama.bhagavats disappearance is broken when there still is a sanga is in place, a resemblance of an organization. Or more to the point; it shows how broken we people are. Sure, the problems were there while Gurudeva was here, he just kept it in check. Sure, it’s not the first time Gaudiya Matha splits apart, it happened after the disappearance of Srila Kesava Maharaja as well. And Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, so there is certainly precedence.

I just don’t see a divine plan in it. It just seem broken to me.

And all the while, there is no proper samadhi for Gurudeva when all it takes is *one* person taking charge.

When the kid eats meat

The-Laws-of-Nature-PicMy kid eats meat and I have no bad conscience about it. How can I allow this considering I have been a vegetarian for twenty years?

I told this to my two devotee friends in Bergen this spring and they were appalled. It was unacceptable in their belief and they considered it my obligation to make sure the kid is vegetarian. Whatever the parent decides, the kid have to do.

Well, you know what the problem with this is? They don’t have kids. They have no idea what it means to have a kid in the situation I live in.

You see, I was staunch on the kid being vegetarian even before the kid was born. This was a big problem between my ex and me, with numerous discussions that went nowhere. My ex was eating meat and wanted the kid to experience the same food culture as him, while I considered it to be violence and murder and certainly not food culture.

While the kid was a baby it was no problem because mother’s milk is vegetarian. The problem arised when the kid became more aware of what he was eating – and that happened much more quickly than I thought.

He was only a couple of months over one year when I realized this wasn’t working. The kid knew he wasn’t allowed to eat the same thing as his father and he was hurt. He wanted to eat what his father was eating and he made it clear. He didn’t care much for what I was eating, and didn’t want it.

Now, when my kid is nearing three, it’s still the same case. He prefer meat over my meals, unfortunately.

The thing is, a kid has a personality and a will of his own. From the moment a kid is born, that kid has a personality and a will. You can try your best to be a role model, but that kid makes his own decisions.

If I had been living in an all vegetarian environment, this would never have been a problem. But since his family and everybody around is eating meat – there isn’t anything I can do. I can only be a role model and provide guidance if wanted when he becomes older and start questioning things.

I only have two principles. I will never buy meat and I will never prepare it. Those are the only principles I’m able to stand for because they involve me. Any action on behalf of other people is beyond me. I can control myself, but not other people. Not even my kid.

Let’s say I force vegetarianism on my son. I’m pretty sure I know what will happen. As he grows older, he will oppose my strict rule and become a verocious meat eater. Do I know this for sure? No, and eating prasada will probably help on this.

Still, I have no bad conscience for letting this happen, though it’s wrong. So this is a case of circumstances versus philosophy where circumstances is winning.

The problem is, I’m pretty sure my Gurudeva would never say that this is okey, which makes my decision wrong. Though I can’t really see I can do something different in this case.