Aiming towards steadiness

10003657_10152680844326433_4111866144249062890_oThere was a woman who once talked to Gurudeva about some subject. During the conversation she said that she wouldn’t finish the process in this lifetime, but may be the next. Gurudeva then struck her, with the sound warning that she should only aim towards achieving our goal in this lifetime.

I only heard this story through a third-party, which is why this story is so badly rendered from my side. For all I know, it might not even be true.

It’s shocking, because Gurudeva struck her. It’s instructive, because it really drives an important point home. We should never allow laxness in our thinking and habits.

That is why I never really entertain the idea that I will have to spend several lifetimes before I achieve my goal. I know I have a long way to go and at the rate I’m going… well. I understand that realistically, I will have to use lifetimes.

But mentally, I don’t think that way. I don’t allow it. That’s why I get enthusiastic when I find something that indicate that this lifetime is enough. The thought of being born in this material world again, nauseates me. I have no interest in it. Though, this thinking in itself is selfish, and lacks devotional service. If I had some bhakti in me, I would be happy to do my Guru’s wishes wherever he put me. It wouldn’t matter if I’m in this material world or not.

In reality, what I want is to get rid of the conditioned part of me.

I have had an understanding and acceptance for the unsteady part of my service. I haven’t pushed because I have understood that I haven’t been qualified. This acceptance hasn’t meant laxness in my case, only understanding with the continued effort to improve.

I have gone days, even weeks without chanting. It’s been unsteady. I can suddenly chant 16 rounds. Then nothing. Then 8 rounds, 4, 10, 13, nothing. Despite this, I have this internal drive that keeps on pushing whenever I see that I get lazy and get me moving again in the right direction.

I have decided that it’s time to add some steadiness to my routine. Now I will chant every day. Even if it is only one round, I will chant every day.

I’m ready now for some steadiness. May be more importantly, I want it.

The proof is in the doing

Can you prove that God exists? No.
Can you prove that God doesn’t exist? No.

10672179_926057464082714_5150527650646704156_nWhen I asked my Gurudeva to be his diska disciple, I got the question “Do you do 16 rounds?” At that time I had been doing so for a year. Now I don’t, but I strive for it. I keep on falling down, but my impression is that I manage to work myself upward again quicker than before each time. The truth is that when I asked my Gurudeva for diksa, I had only one vow I could give to him – my loyalty. That was my sankalpa.

I would never leave my dedication to him. No matter how fallen I am or would become, I would remain loyal. If I ever disagree with him, I will not leave him. That was the real vow I did. To always have faith in my Gurudeva, even when it gets hard. He is my father and family.

We know that diksa is a life-long process until we have achieved our siddha-deha. I also consider that as I have to prove to my Gurudeva that I am loyal and will work on my spiritual life forever, my Gurudeva has to prove to me that he will uphold his end of the deal. I give loyalty, but I also expect loyalty in return. In truth, I expect so much more from him than I expect from myself because he has to keep on making me move forward.

My Gurudeva left this world in 2010, and he proved in his life that he was utterly dedicated to Krishnas service. Though he’s disappeared I still expect him to uphold his deal, he has to prove this process is true to me.

Each year I see my faith is increasing. I don’t see it in the day to day, but I see it as months and years pass that slowly I’m going deeper, I’m being led along the path as long as I’m not resisting. I see it in my understanding, I see it when I suddenly recognize myself in verses and passages, I see it when I recognize what spiritual level I’m at.

It’s no coincidence that the first item in surrender is “reject what is unfavorable for bhakti”, and the second item is “accept what is favorable for bhakti”. It comes of itself and you notice it when some pulling lessen. You notice how your thoughts goes “it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get this..” and you shrug it off as inconsequential. Things that previously held so much sway. The taste and interest for it has lessened, almost gone. It happened of itself, you didn’t push for it.

The proof is in the process. It’s gradually revealed to you and with it a pearl of experience and wisdom. The process itself is addictive.

You just have to hold on, and Guru will drag you up. The proof is in the doing.

Ignorance of qualification

1495397_10152641765091433_1680331432913467090_oI used to think that “only I had enough <enter situation here>, I will do so much more bhajana”. If only I had enough time, working 8 hours is draining! If only I had a meditation chair, if only I had more money, if only….

I really believed that if I got what I wanted, I would have more time to chant. Of course, when I got what I wanted, I didn’t chant. I was aware that I had gotten what I wanted, but there was so much else I needed to do first. My own needs got priority. Then – if I had some time I chanted, but there was no taste. So I pushed myself, but what I really wanted was to do something else. But, I had a duty to chant so I did it, with no taste.

What I didn’t understand then was that qualification is a gradual development. It’s not something that you do when everything is arranged perfectly. The stars doesn’t need to be aligned, you don’t need a whole day for yourself dedicated to chanting – because you’re not qualified. If you get a whole day for chanting, you will spend it differently and with a guilty conscience when you do some chanting.

That guilt is wasted. Guilt will not make us strive harder, it’s there to make us understand that qualification is gradual. I didn’t even understand that I had to work on chanting, I thought that just doing the rounds however unconscious was enough. It wasn’t. I had no taste, chanting became a chore, then chanting became a burden, then the burden became too heavy and I gave it up.

Now I understand that I need to work on my qualification if I want to chant more. I don’t need the conditions to be perfect, my imperfect conditions makes me want to chant more instead.

Every one of us has five senses, which are like five automatic tape recorders. No matter where we may stay, these tape recorders are always recording and playing back what they have recorded. Nirjana-bhajana, solitary bhajana, can only be performed when these five tape recorders have stopped recording things of this world.
The only way to stop them is by creating new recordings overtop of all of whatever they have previously recorded. Slowly, slowly, whatever recordings we have previously made will be erased when we use all our senses in the service of Vaiṣṇavas.

Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Maharaja

Do we ever stop being devotees?

devotees-dancingI was introduced to Krishna Consciousness at 17 when I met devotees that were a part of Caitanya Mission (Science of Identity). I ran away from Caitanya Mission when I was 19 and they began hinting that may be I should marry one other devotee which was NOT a match made in heaven or on earth. It was the best thing they could have done to turn me away.

From 19 until I was 24, I didn’t practice or anything. Just lived my life, discovered IT as an obsession and got a masters degree in the end. During that whole interlude, I never questioned whether Krishna consciousness was my path or not. I knew it was my path, I was just on some kind of break I didn’t know would end or not. I was on the IT path and Krishna lived in my prayers and belief, but that was it.

I’ve always thought that when one leave the practice (and any organization that may have been there), one never really leave krishna consciousness. Isckon even made a term for it: blooping. So do we ever really completely leave krishna consciousness?

Bhagavat Maharaja posted a video where Srila Prabhupada states that a falldown means a gap of millions of years before attaining a human body. His take is that this only applies to people who leave for material enjoyment and become inimical. I never hear that Srila Prabhupada specifically say what constitues a falldown (and if that fall down only applies to inimical persons).

I still don’t get it because such devotees have chanted so much, theoretically removed so much karma that it should make a big dent in one’s sukriti. Not all who leaves becomes inimical. What of them? Do people ever really leave the faith behind completely? My (may be naive) perception has been that it will always stay with them and it’s not possible to leave the faith behind, only the people and organization. If one first have begun to believe in reincarnation and karma – you’re done. You can’t ever give up that perception. Any material enjoyment becomes a bit hollow, because you know better. You can’t give it up, but it doesn’t provide the pleasure you wanted either. You just know better. It’s ingrained in you. You are sold, you know it, you’re just resisting for a time.

This is my thinking. Can I possibly be wrong in this?

So what about those who becomes inimical. Well, there I get it. You can quickly rack up offenses there. But still – am I lacking experience to know how bad it can go?

There is really only one thing in this life that is certain; Spiritual life is our birth right no matter what direction we start in. It’s the only thing that we are guaranteed to have to do at one point or another.

I just can’t wrap my head around that it’s possible to stop being devotees.