The last time I saw Gurudeva was during his European tour in 2009. Since that year, I have only met a devotee once (2014) for four days. Progress without association is impossible, right? In my experience it’s possible, but not without effort.
The idea of “grit” was popularized by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth. She defines “grit” as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” It involves “working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failures, adversity, and plateaus in progress.” It’s one of a set of “noncognitive” skills — such as curiosity, resilience, self-control — that researchers now realize impact students’ long-term success just as much — or possibly more –than academic skills or IQ.
My whole life has been a lesson of grit, so no wonder this has come forward in my spiritual quest as well. I have gone long periods without doing my gayatri and japa, still I have persevered. There is some skills that is essential in keeping the interest going:
- Find your passion and do it.
I love reading, so this transferred to books. Even though I have gone months (if not years) without practicing, I can still say that every day I picked up some book and read it. I think I can safely say I have read some harikatha practically every day. So I didn’t practice. But there still was a seed in me that *wanted* to do it, that wanted Krishna in my life. For me it was reading, but for somebody else it might be kirtan, taking care of deities. Whatever it is, maintain it.
- Work on your dharma of now.
My personality is very logical and analytical – and I like to write. So, this has transferred to my blog. I ponder what I read, and then I write down my ponderings. The debate of what rasa Srila Prabhupada really brought out my analytical skills. Sure, this is a religion of the heart, but work with what you have. My analytical thinking will probably not win over any hearts (and why should I want to?), but may be this is Krishnas way of working on my heart. It keeps my mind concentrating on him.
- Accept your lack of qualification, let Krishna work on those for you.I eat products containing eggs sometimes, though I avoid it as best as I can. I avoid garlic and onions at home, but it’s difficult. It’s not something I recommend, but these are the kinds of allowances I have to make. I don’t like to cook, it’s actually hard for me to cook. Food is ridiculously difficult for me. It’s not rational, it just is. Every time I mention it to people, their response is usually “It’s just to…. “. No, if it was “just something” then it wouldn’t be so damn hard for me. I have no idea why it’s like this, but it can be compared to somebody trying to do my IT job, but only have basic understanding of computers.
I have mentioned this before, because it’s important to me. When Gurudeva accepted me as his disciple, there was really only one true vow I could give to him: I would always remain loyal to him. While most people are busy thinking about all their faults when approaching their Guru, I have a different approach.
In my mind, I got the easy job and Gurudeva is the one who has to do all the work. I have to hold on to the rope he gave me, so he can lift me up. He has to do all the heavy lifting, and believe me it’s heavy.
You see, for me the stories of radha-krishna is like fairy tales. They are these wonderful, attractive fairy tales that I love to hear about and have to really get to know to gain entrance. But, Gurudeva has to prove to me that he’s speaking the truth. I will give him all the time in the world to prove it to me, and so far he’s kept up his end of the deal. It’s not like when he accepted me as his disciple, that suddenly he didn’t have to prove anything anymore. No, I expect him to keep on proving this path to me. I will give him all the time in the world to do this (that is my end of the deal), but I have such high expectations of him. I expect so much more from him than what I expect from myself.
I keep myself to those three points above, but the last one is just as important:
4. Scrub your heart for Sincerity (preferably every day)
What are your motivations? Are they centered on your own pleasures, what do you give and keep for Krishna? Have you acted with integrity during all situations that happened today? Have you prayed?
If there is something in my heart that are self-centered, it’s okey. It’s just to pray that Krishna will help me make better decisions the next time. Pray that Krishna will take whatever happened and use it for the spiritual enlightenment of all involved. I may act with integrity, but that doesn’t mean that it may have positive outcome. I can only pray that Krishna will take it and use it somehow. We are not the doer, and this is the best way I understand that I’m not the doer. Krishna is.
“When I see one devotee living in Vrindavan and doing his bhajana under good association, I become very happy. But when I see one devotee who is struggling to do his bhajan in the West with no association whatsoever and still trying hard, I go inside the heart of that devotee and never leave him. Those devotees are like flowers in the desert that have a very special fragrance. And I have come to collect those flowers.”
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
The statement above from Gurudeva has not been validated against two devotees. It comes from Vrindavanesvari didi who lives in Vrindavin. She heard it in a lecture from Vishaka didi. I have tried to come into contact with her, but I have been unsuccessful. I have also heard that a devotee named Sulata dasi may have heard it. If any of you are able to come into contact with them, please ask them about this statement. So until the statement have been validated by one more devotee, it’s still “in the air” of its authenticity.