Checked by Vaishnava aparadha

We commit a Himalayan blunder when we become hostile to anybody in this world by seeing his bad practices and bad actions. We have got no grudge over any person but we do not support the evil practices. We should condemn those practices.

Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharajji

One of the things that have worried me in my writing is vaishnava aparadha. I try to be very careful with how I phrase things, but things will fall through the cracks or someone will take offense of what I write anyway. I make sure that I have no animosity and if there is, that is a fault within me that I need to work at. My motto is “Condemn the action, not the person” and taking the road of non-judgmental distinction. That is what I try to achieve.

Such offenses are called vaishnava-aparadha. Aparadha means “offense.” If one commits vaishnava-aparadhas, all of his progress in devotional service will be checked.

Purport of SB 4.21.37

But how do one know if one has committed vaishnava aparadha, however unintentionally?

If one commits vaishnava aparadha, one’s devotional progress will be checked. But how do you discover if you are being “checked”? How do I know I’m not cheating myself?

In the debates that have been about the rasa of Srila Prabhupada and Premananda Prabhu, both parties easily claims that the other party are committing Vaishnava aparadha. My stance is that it’s not up to me to decide whether someone is committing Vaishnava aparadha, because I don’t know what’s in their heart. Instead I look at all parties and think that they are filling the role Krishna wants them to have, even when I don’t agree.

I can look at what somebody have written and think “this is not appropriate”, but I will not use the word vaishnava aparadha easily and certainly not publically. What I also see is that all parties, especially in the rasa of Srila Prabhupada seem to be connected to high class association and therefore is protected in my mind. If one keeps high class association, doesn’t that mean that they will progress anyway?

But then we have the cheating aspect of Guru. Which tails back to the original question, how do we understand that we are being checked? And will we understand it even when we are being cheated by a Guru? I know how clouded my intelligence is, and probably already are. I wouldn’t recognize if I were checked, I wouldn’t understand it.

I may think I’m progressing while in reality I’m not? I know I may be overthinking things here and that in reality we can easily recognize progress when we look backwards. But at the same time, if we are being cheated we may not have it in us to look backwards and that may be a part of the cheating aspect.

Chantingness

sadara sumarana je nara karahim
bhava varidhi gopada-iva tarahim

“Human beings who chant and listen to the names of Lord Hari with honor and respect can cross the ocean of material existence like one steps over a puddle formed by the hoof-print of a cow”

Just like my neighbor who keeps on breaking down my roof by walking as hard as she can, the same thing I’m doing to Krishna by not giving up the Name. By continuous chanting I’m not leaving Him alone. I’m not letting Him forget me. Though just like my neighbors noise is unpleasant, the same might be true for my chanting because of my conditioned status. Because my neighbor is knocking so hard, I’m knocking so hard at Krishna’s “wall”. I’m not letting Him go.

This situation has been good for my chanting. As well as bad – it’s difficult to chant in such harsh conditions. My chanting went very well for a time and I got my chanting down to 6 minutes and was so pleased. But then I began to just trip in my chanting. I was struggling with “Rama Rama Hare Hare”. That sentence completely threw me off and suddenly I was using 10 minutes on one round. This went on for days and it was the R’s that wasn’t right. I also wasn’t chanting “Hare Hare….. Hare Krishna”. Three “Hare”s meant that one went missing when I did this quickly – I think. In the end it became so bad that some times I wondered if I even skipped over the last two paragraphs in the mantra. Japa went from really going forward, to almost a halt.

So I tried to chant more pronounced, but again this meant a round took forever to complete. So I began to listen a little bit to Srila Prabhupadas chanting. He has a melody to his chanting, and the pronunciation is perfect. It was still slow, but it helps. It gives a bit of melody and if I keep the tone of the last two “Hare”s and the first “Hare” different, it ensures that I’m uttering every Name correctly. The melody unfortunately add a bit of slowness in chanting using the mind, at least for now. But I think I’m on the right track again.

Another nice side effect – I keep on chanting mentally throughout the day.

Krishna achieves many things at once

IMG_1752Just on top of me lives my neighbor who is a psychopath. She has decided that I’m her enemy and the result is that I’m harassed for hours every day and night. Only when I’m alone or with my son, not when I have visitors of course. If you have no close encounter with a psychopath, you have no ability to understand how destructive a psychopath is and should never give advice to somebody in that situation. A psychopath receives energy from harassing you and breaking you down, and therefore he will never stop. He will *never* stop. Your only defense is to try to live a semblance of your life as best as you can and hope that in time that psychopath will find a new victim.

The current joy of the psychopath upstairs is to bereave me of sleep as much as she can. So she goes to bed after 12am and makes sure to wake me. She makes sure to wake me when her husband wakes to go to work and if she has troubles sleeping then I am not allowed to sleep either. And I wake up every time with my heart pumping out of my chest, unable to fall asleep again.

Talking about karma in such a case has no value. It doesn’t help to think that “oh well, that’s karma for you” or that it’s temporary. The closest analogy I have found to this situation is “humbler than a blade of grass”. I’m that grass that have a camping truck parked on top of me. If this is not a lesson in extreme tolerance, I don’t know what is. But a grass that lives too long under a camping truck dies, and so will I. This situation is killing me.

What does a semblance of a devotee to do?

For the last couple of days I have breached a wall I didn’t think I would be able to breach, at least on my own. I have chanted 64 rounds. It’s the only way I can think of to protect myself. This whole situation is so beyond me that only divine help can help me. But I don’t think it will come. I think Krishna wants me to be in this position.

The Personality of Godhead said: If I especially favor someone, I gradually deprive him of his wealth. Then the relatives and friends of such a poverty-stricken man abandon him. In this way he suffers one distress after another.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.88.8

In my case, I don’t think Krishna is going after my money. He is instead making my situation so unbelievably unlivable (and harder for each time). It’s so hard that I have to protect my friends from myself by not speaking about it unless they ask. One friend of mine who has experienced this psychopath herself said to me: “You need to get a boyfriend.” Which is one thing this female psychopath will be hesitant towards (she only attacks single female mothers in our neighbourhood). Though, I have no desire to enter that path again.

The only thing left to protect me is the Name. So I’m reading “Obtaining God in this very lifetime” and chanting in the hopes that this will save me.

“On March 29, 2009, Aniruddha Prabhu came to my home and instructed me to chant one hundred thousand names of Lord Hari every day. I told him that I would be unable to do so. He replied that by chanting one hundred thousand holy names per day, all of my worries would be over and the Supreme Lord would take all of my responsibilities upon Himself.”
Testimonial 1 from Obtaining God in this very lifetime.

But so far… well. Okey, I’m only two days in and I know that my motives here aren’t the best. But I did expect that chanting 64 rounds would at least make me feel…. more effulgent? Something, at least. So far I’m only surviving here. Chanting and otherwise.

 

Helping devotees out

As readers probably know, I have no problems taking on the current issues in the sangha. But in doing so, especially over the long term, it can seem like my viewpoint is focusing on the negative. This is not representative of who and what I am. I think the bad parts only amounts to a very small part of what the devotees actually produce.

Devotees are amazing artists. They are expert at publishing books, music, art, raising money and construct temples. What are devotees not able to do? I think devotees are artists of life. Life is their art. Devotional life creates artists of each and every person and it comes out beautifully different in each case.

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This time I want to write about Caru Candrika didi. She was unfortunately in a very serious accident during Kartik in Vrindavin. I’m lousy at writing emotional stuff, so all I can say is that I’m so, so sorry this happened. What I really want to put the light on is the fund raiser that is being held for her medical expenses. The devotees have really shown up and donated a lot of money for her, and much more is needed.  On the page of the fund reader they are excellent at updating us on her condition.

Caru didis path of art have been as a travelling preacher in the sanga for years. She has no job and her living is payed for by donations – which probably barely covers her expenses if even that. It’s wonderful how the sanga takes care of Caru didi and their devotees in times of crisis. There’s also been links to a well written article Caru didi had in “Rays of the Harmonist” where she outlines what Gurudeva gave to the devotee community.

Let’s pray for a speedy recovery, and if you have the means, please donate.

Mental chanting

srila-prabhupada-japa-bw-380x500I’m in a spiritual slump, while at the same time not being in a spiritual slump. Sounds contradictory? Well, it is for me. I’m a bit devoid of inspiration, while at the same time there are things I’m working on and I see changes. I don’t understand how I can feel I’m in a slump while I still move forward, but there it is. My life and understanding don’t need to make sense always.

I’ve been trying to practice chanting mentally. The goal is chanting 64 rounds, which of course is a bit hilarious since I’m not chanting the recommended 16. So a little search gave me what Paramahamsa Yogananda (which is a hatha-yoga guru) has said:

The five states of chanting are:

  1. chanting aloud
  2. whisper chanting
  3. mental chanting
  4. subconscious chanting
  5. superconscious chanting

I’m well versed in the first and second, but the third one is the one I’m working on. I’ve never much liked mental chanting because it’s just so slow. Whisper chanting has been nice because it’s faster and then I can think all this nonsense while my mouth is chanting.

What the 4th and 5th states are, I have no idea. Sounds mystic.

So I’ve been trying to chant mentally for about a week. The first times took me 10 minutes to finish a round and it was so painful. My mind was so slow. The tongue was so much faster than my mind, how could that be? I had to bite my tongue sometimes, so that I wasn’t chanting with it.

It became obvious how connected my mind is to my body. It’s strange when the mind takes so much longer time than the tongue. A thought is lightning fast, so the mantra shouldn’t be like sticky glue to chant. I didn’t know that the mind was so resisting of it.

A whisper chanting takes about 7 minutes and 40 seconds. After a week I’m down to mentally chanting in 7 minutes and 30 seconds which is faster. Great !

The inspiration to chant mentally came from a facebook group on how to chant 64 rounds.  It stated that whisper chanting is actually kirtan and that mental chanting is the way to go. The goal is to chant mentally until there is no space in the maha mantra and it should take 5 minutes. Thereby you can finish 64 rounds in 5 hours and 20 minutes.

Why do I mention all these numbers? Because for me this is a way to measure progress and keep myself inspired. It’s a way to keep on working on the goal. I know that what we really want to inspire is the feelings behind these practices, but I know nothing of that and I have no control of that either. I leave that to my Gurudeva and the parampara. I just have to show up to the practice, and they will just have to do the changes on me if they want.

Do you have any recommendations or experiences in your mental chanting?

 

The Radiant Truth

Why is there so many different religions in the world when Krishna is the Absolute Truth? People are different and therefore seek different ways of relating to him, it helps them make progress in the form that suits them.

The last post about cheating and mercy have been itching at me. I want to have the undiluted experience and I want to go as far as I can go in my position and situation.

Now, Premananda Prabhu is doing and inspiring so much wonderful seva in people. I’m very happy that he is building Gurudevas samadhi, and he is doing a wonderful job. It seems like Premananda Prabhu is expert as service. That is wholly a wonderful quality that deserves every glorification it can get. I mean – JAYA !

But then there’s this other part, something that shows there’s inconsistencies in Premananda Prabhus character. Some may be of less consequence, some may be a lot heavier. One can still accept a person, even when there are less desirable qualities there. May be especially then one needs to accept a person. So I’m not so concerned about Premananda Prabhu, but more about the devotees who seeks siksa from him. Why would they if they understood that there are several things that don’t add up?

So even though I have the impression that one might not receive the full concept from Premananda Prabhu, there is still room for him and hugely so considering his following. But one needs to be mindful that there *are* inconsistencies there. There may be some cheating and Sudhadvaiti Swami has pointed that out, and may be this is Krishnas way of saying “beware”.

śabda-brahmaṇi niṣṇāto
na niṣṇāyāt pare yadi
śramas tasya śrama-phalo
hy adhenum iva rakṣataḥ

Taking shelter of a “Guru” who has great learning of the Vedic literature but has not realised para-brahma (Krishna) is like keeping a barren cow who cannot give milk. It is useless labour and one does not achieve any real result.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.11.18

As Gaudiya Vaishnavas we are receiving well, pretty much the whole truth. BUT – the whole truth is delivered by sadhus. And how much of that truth you receive is directly proportionate to the quality of the sadhu you seek siksa from.