Every monday I look forward to the recent realizations of Dhanurdhara Swami. He has also written a nice experience of my Gurudeva, Narayana Maharaja. He has what I am lacking in – realizations. His newest post could as well have been written about what I’m experiencing now.
About a month ago, after making a mistake in not only how I was thinking about something, but in how I had reacted to it, and then seeing the anxiety it caused, I had a very strong realization that seemed to correct and complete my vision of the world. I was surprised because I was convinced that I was already seeing the world perfectly clear, but I had one doubt. This pattern has been repeating itself every year, often several times a year, for the last 42 years, since beginning Kṛṣṇa consciousness. I always think that I am seeing things clearly, until some upheaval, big or small, comes along that gives me a newer, more complete vision and with the same certainty as before. I often share this story with others with the background music of Goofy to express how hapless we are in walking the world with a vision of confidence, although destiny repeatedly turns our world on its head again and again.
I think my folly, however, is not unique, for until one’s mind is completely pure, it is the nature of the mind to see the world through a defective lens without even realizing one is looking through it. I think therefore my story should be, in a sense, everyone’s story on the spiritual path. Our natural confidence in how we see the world should be repeatedly shaken by destiny to help give us newer and higher visions of reality even though at the time we are probably not aware that we are seeing things through a distorted lens.
I have received a new lens of the world, but it’s a rather grim one. What is the reason for our existence? If we look aside from the religious one but the material reason – it becomes clear. It’s for us humans to take care of each other, cooperation. Yet this world is described as a dangerous place, filled with unknown dangers and evil at every step. We intuitively understands that there’s truth in that, but why is it so? Because of humans.
Sure, we have natural disasters but humans are the reason the world is so dangerous Because we humans view each other with competition instead of cooperation. If we humans had begun helping each other out, caring for each other even if we are not family, then society would become different. If we could accept that a persons flaws without reacting to it and still be there and help within our capacity. Even when we don’t like a person – which probably would be most people over time.
My mother once said to me that when I died she wanted to have my TV. Would you say something like that to a person you love? Yet her dysfunction is nothing compared to a malignant narcissist. It’s being punched into me every day so many times that I am nothing. I have no value. I am worthless and unlovable.
Yet apparently there is still something valuable in me that Krishna wants. It’s the reason for my existence which unfortunately never seem to end.
I have a new lense of the world, but my vision has still not acclimatized. I don’t know who this new person is or are supposed to be. I have been broken, and I am sick of my troubles. Troubles are boring – everybody has them. Which is why I have such problems writing now. I have received a new lense, but I don’t know what to make of it.
Today is aksaya-tritiya. So, in honor of this day I would like to give away my daily planner. I created a monthly spiritual planner a while ago as a way to track one’s sadhana. But it wasn’t enough for my needs. I like writing a journal and track my task list. The daily schedule I use to keep track of what I’m doing , when I wake up, lunch, whatever.
So in honor of aksaya-tritya, here is my daily planner I hope it receives you well.
The weirdest blog post I have ever written is the one where I write about how to Recognize spiritual progress from past lifes. It was a blog post that wasn’t me at all, but wouldn’t let me go until I pressed publish. Though I believe in karma and reincarnation, the whole past lives etc. becomes just too new agey for me. There are tons of blog posts I can’t remember, but yet this one I kept on thinking about, because it was so strange to me.
Then one devotee published this on facebook:
WHEN ONE BECOMES A DEVOTEE, GENERATIONS OF HIS FAMILY ARE LIBERATED. THE NUMBER OF GENERATIONS DEPEND ON ADHIKARA OF THE DEVOTEE. WHAT KIND OF ‘LIBERATION’ DO THEY GET? THEY DO NOT GO TO THE SPIRITUAL WORLD, THEY BECOME DEVOTEES.
triḥ-saptabhiḥ pitā pūtaḥ
pitṛbhiḥ saha te ’nagha
yat sādho ’sya kule jāto
bhavān vai kula-pāvanaḥ
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Prahlāda, O most pure, O great saintly person, your father has been purified, along with twenty-one forefathers in your family. Because you were born in this family, the entire dynasty has been purified. [SB 7.10.18]
The word triḥ-saptabhiḥ means seven multiplied by three. In one’s family one can count back four or five generations—to one’s great-grandfather or even one’s great-grandfather’s father — but since the Lord mentions twenty-one forefathers, this indicates that the benediction expands to other families also. Before the present family in which one has taken birth, one must have been born in other families. Thus when a Vaiṣṇava takes birth in a family, by the grace of the Lord he purifies not only that family but also the families of his previous births.
A devotee, although born in a caṇḍāla (dog-eater) family, can purify his whole family for one hundred generations, past and future, by devotional service, whereas a proud brāhmaṇa cannot even purify himself.
[Teachings of Lord Caitanya, ch 2.]
So my point is: by serving the Supreme Lord, one gives the best service to the family, because if one becomes a Vaiṣṇava, pure Vaiṣṇava, the whole family, up to fourteen generations, they become liberated. Therefore tīvreṇa bhakti-yogena. We should not divert our attention for any other service. We should simply concentrate for rendering service to the Supreme Lord. This is the conclusion. [Srila Prabhupada’s Lecture on SB 3.25.44]
Pañca-draviḍa: What kind of liberation does the family get of a pure devotee?
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: One who becomes a devotee, the statement is that fourteen generations of his family, past, present and future, become liberated. So what kind of liberation does the family members of a pure Vaiṣṇava get?
Prabhupāda: Liberation means — that is explained by Caitanya Mahāprabhu — to become devotee. That is liberation. To become…. To become a devotee is itself liberation. [break] …will come.
[Morning walk, Mayapur March 17, 1976]
From Upadesamrta: The Nectarean Instructions
by Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada
QUESTION: When a devotee is born in a family, does that family benefit from his or her birth?
SRILA BHAKTISIDDHANTA: When a great saint, a pure devotee, appears in a family, then his ancestors and descendants for a HUNDRED GENERATIONS each are elevated. When a devotee of the middle stature (madhyama bhagavata) appears in a family, then his ancestors and descendants for FOURTEEN GENERATIONS each are elevated. When a neophyte devotee appears in a family, then his ancestors and descendants for THREE GENERATIONS each are elevated.
Suddenly that blog post for years ago made sense to me. I write a lot about the struggles I have in being a devotee. I have had this belief for twenty years, and still I struggle with even the basics like chanting. It hasn’t made sense to me. If I was a devotee in previous life, why am I fighting an uphill battle where even the smallest progress has been precluded with great struggles and difficulties? The only thing that has remained steady with me is my belief which is rock solid.
The answer is because I have never been a devotee before. I am a devotee because I was in the family of a devotee in a previous life and that person gave me this boon. It makes sense to me now why nothing comes to me naturally spiritually (except the faith).
I have always been certain that this life is the first one where I have encountered an uttama-bhagavata. I have always looked forward to my next life, because I know that things will be so much easier then. I will be born into more auspicious circumstances.
It’s such a relief to finally understand why everything is so difficult for me spiritually.
When we look for religious truths, the vedas say that truth are threefold: sadhu, sastra and guru. So wouldn’t it be pertinent that in siddhantic disagreements, we have to verify our stance with all three?
“Sadhu sastra, guru vakya, tinete kariya aikya. Spiritual realization can be perfected by three parallel process. Sadhu. Sadhu means saintly persons, who are realized souls, sadhu. And sastra. Sastra means scriptures, authoritative scriptures, Vedic scriptures, sastra. Sadhu, sastra, and guru, a spiritual master. Three parallel line. And if you place your car or vehicle on these three parallel line, your car will go direct to Krsna. Tinete kariya aikya. Just like in the railway line you see two parallel lines. If they are in order, the railway carriages are carried very smoothly to the destination. Here also, there are three parallel lines–sadhu, sastra, guru: saintly person, association of saintly person, acceptance of bona fide spiritual master, and faith in the scriptures. That’s all. Then your carriage will be going nicely, without any disturbance.”
Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 10-18-68, Seattle
One of the things I have noticed in the siddhantical debates when discussing what siddha-deha Srila Prabhupada has, is that the madhurya-rati side only references Gurudevas words.But even a Gurus words have to be checked against sadhu and sastra – not because we think we know more than Gurudeva, but to make sure our understanding is correct. Just quoting Gurudeva is not enough when dealing with siddhantical disagreements. Quoting Gurudeva is certainly a valid source in all instances, but when disagreements arise there need to be several sources (specifically sadhu and sastra) which agrees with Gurudevas statements.
The siddhantical issues that are being put into question is:
Our lineage contains only manjaris and other moods belongs somewhere else.
If one has another mood than madhurya, one is not a rupanuga
Gurudeva has specifically said that our lineage is only manjaris:
When it comes to the lineage, it can be easily refuted by sastra:
I shall personally inaugurate the religion of the age, nama-sankirtana. I shall distribute the four mellows of devotional service (dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya).
Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi-lila 3.19
Here we have a case of Gurudeva saying one thing, and sastra saying something else.
Can Gurudeva have opinions that differ from His own diksa Guru?
Certain sahajiyas, following the theory of ‘ichari-paka’, or expecting ripe fruit prematurely, say that “rupanuga-bhajana’ consists of only the acceptance of parakiya madhura-rasa. They have established that other rasas such as dasya, sakhya and vatsalya are not included within rupanuga-bhajana. Such statements identify the sahajiyas section as being without proper understanding of rasa-tattva, and as being uncontrolled [independent]. These days, many persons situated within the line of conception flowing from Sri Saraswati Thakura and Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, are fallen from the true line of thought of Sri Rupa Goswami, and have actually taken shelter of the feet of the followers of the sahajiya-section, and are believers in this ‘ichari-paka’ philosophy; Such imitationists say ‘what will you get from preaching? What is there in kirtana? Do bhajana, just do bhajana!” This class of offenders think that their exchanging of the chanting of the Holy Name for deceitfully ‘pulling rope’ on their japa-mala, while sitting and performing silent bhajana, is actual bhajana. It is a matter of great astonishment that even though a great many people are doing this, still they have no shame. Service to Hari kirtana is actual rupanuga-bhajana, otherwise not.
Sri Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Goswami Maharaja
The appearance of Sri Baladeva, 21 August, 1958. Appearing in Sri Sri Bhagavat Patrika, 1-12, 2017.
This statement from Kesava Maharaja addresses both siddhantical disputes. When it comes to the thesis that only manjaris are rupanugas, I believe its because one is unable to see it from several viewpoints. From Gurudeva (a manjari), a rupanuga would mean following Rupa Goswamis internal moods. But for jivas with other intrinsic mood, they would interpret being a Rupanuga as following his teachings (as their mood may be different, but teachings are still very much current for them).
In other words, there is room for all moods in the gaudiya vedanta lineage. Now, there may be biological families whose moods are within one of the four mellows, but they still are within the gaudiya vedanta lineage. I’m happy that Gurudeva is my Guru, but I would have been honored to have had a Guru with a different mellow as long as he was authentic.
The funny thing is that those who belongs within the madhurya-rati side is also discussing the age-old question on whether the jiva fell from vaikuntha. It’s an excellent case of history repeating itself. In Isckon, during and after Srila Prabhupadas disappearance there was a belief that the jivas had been in Vaikuntha, but fell down to this material world. Gurudeva refuted this belief and showed how the jivas came from the tatastha region and that it’s not possible to be in Vaikuntha and fall down from the moods there. The same disciples who argues the correct understanding toward this isckon misconception, is the same ones who has the misconceptions in terms of madhurya rasa. It really is history repeating itself.
That Gurudeva was able to cheat us on these things is really a glory of his, not something that limits him. Gurudeva’s knowledge is so powerful that we still discuss and disagrees on it even today. That’s how powerful his influence is. Preaching tactic doesn’t subtract from his glory, it adds to it.
Furthermore, what evidence is there that having misconceptions disqualify one from spiritual progress? None, because misconceptions are not what we are being measured on. If we were measured on our misconceptions, none of us would stand a chance.
Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.
A real disciple is someone who gets that experience too, from the wise, by means of three things:
The interesting quality in this context is “rigourous inquiry” which means there are room for questioning, having misconceptions. Just as long as one keep on working on our understandings, it will be fine. Just don’t let pride stand in the way.
(I’m taking away that last sentence there, because its wrong. I’m leaving it visibly lined through so that you can see my error)
During Gurudevas presence, I used to go to the festivals in Europe. I was an avid reader and whatever books I could get my hands on, I purchased. One could always see me hovering around the book table. I’ve been to many of Gurudevas lectures, but those were difficult for me. I didn’t understand what Gurudeva said (I struggled with his dialect) and even if I wrote things down it was in one ear and out the other. I had and still have a teflon brain where nothing sticks.
The last few years I have been unable to read books. I loved reading books and devoured them, it was even the primary way I stayed connected during my years of no association. Now I’m unable to read. I don’t know how many books I have begun reading and only come a few pages into them, never to be continued. It’s been frustrating. Perplexing. Reading used to give me so much pleasure and now this quality has disappeared. Poof.
Instead I have turned to audiobooks and I have found it a wonderful avenue. Audiobooks now gives me what reading used to give me. I love it. I put my headphones on, and I can do whatever I want to while still listening to harikatha and books. It’s amazing.
The first audiobook I turned to was Bhakti-rasayana. It was specifically this video that got me on the track of audio narrations of books.
I remembered I had a CD with the narration of this book by Bhaktivedanta Tridandi Swami and I can greatly recommend it. Tridandi swami has a voice that works perfectly for listening to and his narrations is well spoken. He enhances the story, not getting in the way of it.
I have tried to find the books online, but without luck. I sent the following letter below to GVP Publications (contact form: http://gvpbookdistribution.com/contact/ ) in the hopes they will make them available. If this is something that speaks to you, send them a letter as well as this is a very important service I would like to see so much more of.
(I have the mp3s, but I’m not making them available as they are not my intellectual property. It’s better to mail GVP and hope they become enthused to publish them online)
All glories to Guru, the Vaishnavas and Gauranga!
I have been greatly enjoying the narration of Bhakti Rasayana (Ambrosia of divine love). It’s a cd I purchased many years ago. I have been looking to see if its possible to download it somewhere, but it isn’t.
Is it possible to make it (and all other audiobooks) available? For example on amazon.com?
The audiobooks are expertly produced and Tridandi Swami has a perfect voice for narrations. I’m hoping that by me sending this mail, you will make the audiobooks available for devotees and hopefully produce more of them. It’s an overlooked service that I am now very grateful for receiving.
I thought things were quickly going downhill after new years. I was receiving resistance in all areas of my life when I needed stability the most. So in desperation I did the only thing I could do – I isolated myself. I just stopped. Of course, other people didn’t stop because I did, so I still had to deal with everything that cropped up. I did – but the rest of the time I just did nothing. I needed stability, and the only stability I could give myself was isolation. Stay at home, do as little as needed and just take care of myself. In that quietness of being I faced some truths. I had tried to be the happy, functional person I was before I was targeted by a malignant narcissist. I realized that person is gone. The person I am now is different, somebody else. I have experienced too much and it’s not possible to go back to her. I gave up and instead understood that I was not in a mentally healthy place, so I allowed myself to be this unhealthy person instead. This person don’t want to deal with people. It’s too complex and I don’t have the energy for it. Isolation is what I want and what I do.
I stopped going out unless I needed something. Just going to the grocery store was something I put off as long as I could. I began focusing on sleep and creating sleep diagrams. I realized that I was getting too little sleep and it’s impossible to become a mentally healthy person before that part was stabilized. Lack of sleep damages your cognitive abilities – your thinking. What may be obvious for other people, isn’t for you because your brain is sick. It makes you unable to regulate emotions. I found an American researcher who claimed he could cure insomnia. He cured mine and even if I get awaken multiple times a night, I just fall asleep again. I have stopped using sleep medication, I don’t need it anymore. It’s nothing short of a miracle.
I have financially lived beyond my means for a long time. I slowed down my spending considerably, but still I’m using too much. It’s difficult for me and I’m working on it.
I stopped caring what happened to me. I gave up and thought (and still do) I have no future anymore. In doing so something slowly happened – I gave up on the narcissist as well. She can do her worst – I just don’t care anymore. She has no impact on my emotions anymore. Her desperation became just more and more palpable, because she was loosing control over me. It’s more calm now than ever before because she receives no nourishment from me. She tries, but she has lost me.
I began focusing more on my sadhana. I created a sheet to keep track of my japa and gayatri and it made me do more. Every time I have some project that requires a lot of time and energy, I do less. When I have my son, I do less. It takes some time to get back to where I need to be afterwards. It made it easier to track. I’m hoping I get better at adjusting and the time sheet helps me do it.
By slowing down, isolating – something wonderful happened. I felt happy, relaxed. I don’t know who I’m supposed to become, who a healthy, happy Haridasi is. I still have a way to go. But the one I am now enjoys isolation. Craves it to become closer to myself.
I don’t care who I’m supposed to be. I just want to be alone with my books, chanting beads, deities and hopefully good food. Slowing down has been essential to get to the essence which I still have so much to learn from.
What used to give me pleasure don’t anymore. I keep on trying to extract pleasure from it, but it doesn’t work. It has created an emptiness of joy that needs to be filled, I just don’t know how yet. I know what I want to do, but I don’t understand why it’s so hard.
I want to chant more, read more, study the vedas more, do arti, listening to more harikatha. I want to devote myself, so why is it easier to watch tv? Why is it hard to do what I want and crave? I find it puzzling. But by slowing down I’m making room for these things to work on me. Change takes time, it requires space for it to grow. I’m creating both time and space in the hopes it will slowly take hold.
Gratefulness blossoms in me. I’m lucky that I’m allowed to open up for changes in me to happen. In the unbelievable amount of adversity I receive, I’m still so fortunate. Everything I have received is because Gurudeva accepted me. By accepting me, He forced me to change through circumstances and adversity. I learn something all the time, reach new debts of understanding and how little I actually know. I’m fortunate because I receive so much problems. But it’s only after the storm has passed and I can view the damage done that I see something beautiful grows in it’s place. The storm devastated everything so that some new beauty that is ever more wonderful gets a chance to manifest.
“Japa is how Krishna works on you”, Didi told me when I wasn’t practicing and warned me that I could loose all bhakti if I didn’t get my act together. I had never really heard that before. That Nama is how Krishna works on me. I didn’t really (and still don’t) understand it. When I began chanting again, I was asking Krishna “How are you working on me by me chanting”?
So I got some understandings revealed to me, but they quickly passed because… well, I’m fickle like that. There’s a difference between understanding something and realizing something. To realize means that the understanding goes so deep into your heart that it changes behaviour (over time).
Just fix your mind upon Me,
engage all your intelligence in Me.
Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt.
I like how the first sentence begins with “just”. Like fixing the mind is something one “just” does. Easy like a breeze…..
The second sentence tells us how we can fix our mind upon Him – by engaging all our intelligence.
Gurudeva said that he used to discuss the harikatha he had heard with his Godbrothers while doing his chores. This is one way of using our intelligence. Using our intelligence is easy – we all have ideas about how we can render service in a way that suits our personality. We * just * have to do it.
To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.
My intelligence is higher now than it was ten years ago. Krishna gives us the intelligence we need. We have to work on our understandings, and by doing so we receive more intelligence.
So chanting is how Krishna works on us. Hearing and processing is how we can work on Krishna. Krishna can never forget a devotee. Why? Because a devotee constantly chants so the devotee never lets Krishna forget Him. And since one keep on chanting, not letting Krishna of the hook – may be that’s how He works on us. He has to look at us, look at where we are and how we can improve. Make corrections, changes. Either in our surroundings, realizations, karma, whatever.
When you read the instructions from our acharyas, notice when the words “hearing and chanting” is used together. Often those two verbs go together. I just did a quick search in the “Art of Sadhana” by Bhakti Pramode Puri Maharaja:
…such devotion (characterized by activities such as hearing and chanting about Krishna) must be causeless;
…But the best of all yogis is one who practices devotional acts like hearing and chanting.
…Only the process of devotional service consisting of hearing and chanting as given by the spiritual master can destroy these Mesas.
…The jiva then takes the role of a gardener, plants the seed of faith in the heart and waters it with the acts of hearing and chanting.
…Taking shelter of Me, they engage in constantly hearing and chanting about Me.(Srimad Bhagavatam 3.25.23)
…One who engages in hearing and chanting without taking shelter of Lord Gaurasundara Mahaprabhu may do so for many lifetimes without achieving the treasure of love for Krishna.
… Always think of Me, worship Me by engaging in the devotional services of hearing and chanting.. (Bhagavad-gita 18.65)
…Raganuga bhakti is practiced both externally and internally. In the external body, the practitioner en gages in hearing and chanting; in his mind, however, he meditates on his spiritual body and serves Krishna in Vrindavan, day and night. (Chaitanya Charitamrta 2.22.156-7, 159)
This is just the result from one book. Hearing and chanting is mentioned eight times in one book. Three of those quotes comes directly from verses in the sastras.
Hearing and chanting comes in pair. They are dependant on each other. But how?
We all know the importance of chanting. It’s our primary duty – but hearing. Of course, we also know the importance of harikatha. But the hearing needs to enter our hearts. It does so by chanting. The chanting cleanses our hearts so that hearing becomes more efficient. In this regards this excellent article from harmonist.us really ascertain the importance of hearing: Hearing and reflection. (Please read it, it’s excellent!)
For a couple of years now I have not been able to read. Not getting sleep seriously damage your cognitive abilities and therefore I haven’t been able to read anything more than lightweight articles and such. Books have been far beyond my capability. It still is, but something is changing in me because I now chant. The chanting have made me curious about studying (hearing), so I’m approaching the sastra differently. By studying small bits and focus on how things are connected, my reading doesn’t need concentration. Instead it activates my investigative interest.
Which connects back to doing our japa – however badly. If we just perservere, japa will give us the enthusiasm to go further. Hearing and chanting goes hand in hand. If it doesn’t, just chant and hearing will come.
How many times have we heard that we are not the body? I’m so tired to listening to lectures telling me this basic thing. But I only understand it from an intellectual level. I understand that I am this consciousness – which we may or may not call a soul. But how do we * know * that we are not this body?
We are so caught up in living our lives that we do not even recognize even this simple truth. So where does this understanding blossom? In the stage of anartha nivritti. Japa is an opportunity to let our eyes wander inwards – and what comes forward is the body’s desires for… all things material. And we get the understanding that the life we are living is a layer – a covering that so easily catches us. That’s where the stage of anartha nivritti kicks in. Removing unwanted desires is a way of uncovering our real selves which is covered by our bodys misconception. And what is this misconception? In my case I can list the basic things like soda, coffee, chocolate, foods. These things are stopping me from uncovering who I really am.
When our material desires burns away, our understanding that we are not this body will gradually be uncovered. We separate between ourselves and the body’s desires. We come more in touch with who we really are.
When I was in Vrindavin, Didi told me that japa was the way Krishna worked on us. I had to do japa, because that’s where He does his work on me. After the written warning I got (see my last post), I have been chanting every day, so very reluctantly and not wanting it at all. So in the beginning I decided that if I was to chant, Krishna should feel my pain. So I poured my pain into the chanting. Days and days where all I did was letting Krishna feel my pain. I poured it in – and without me really noticing it, my pain was burned away from me.
I mentally screamed at Krishna: “How do you work on me?” while doing japa. I wanted Him to feel everything I was feeling. I wanted Him to drown in my pain while I was doing japa. I did this for what seems a long time, but I guess it’s not for Him (or even me).
I don’t want my life to weaken even more, so I continued doing japa. Now I do my rounds while watching TV and playing candy crush. I think I’m doing better than I should in Candy Crush because Krishna is sick of it.
And Krishna is working on me. Do your japa – it doesn’t matter how. While watching TV or whatever. Do your japa. Pour your pain into it. Let Krishna take care of it. Just do your japa – it doesn’t matter how. Krishna will change you that way. One candy crush game at a time.