Abscense

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.

Why do we make God work so hard

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.

Past lives and spiritual struggles

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.

 

READ BELOW:

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
triḥ-saptabhiḥ pitā pūtaḥ
pitṛbhiḥ saha te ’nagha
yat sādho ’sya kule jāto
bhavān vai kula-pāvanaḥ

TRANSLATION
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]

PURPORT
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.

Slowing down – focusing

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.

I found out Tripurari swami has podcasts available on iTunes, so I began listening to lectures every day using my wireless headphones (which I adore). Now I can listen to lectures and do housework at the same time. It’s genius!

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.

 

Use your intelligence

“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.
Bhagavad-gita 12.8

 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.

Bhagavad-gita 10.10

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.
But it requires both: Hearing and chanting.
Then processing and change.
Equals realizations.

Anartha nivritti (removing misconceptions)

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.

Unwanted special favors

When I received harinama in 2002, I got the spiritual name: Haridasi. Of course, I didn’t really know what that name meant. Fortunately one devotee told me: Hari is the form of God who steals, especially He steals the heart of the Gopis. When I heard this I was very moved. I interpreted the name as a way of Gurudeva to tell me that he knew my heart, though I can’t really remember why it had that impact on me at the time.

I have kept my name, and I have really loved that name. I don’t know why – it’s just me.

So like last Christmas, I went to Vrindavin again and to KBM near Seva Kunj, meeting Didi again. But my head was not in the game. I may have physically been in Vrindavin, but I was not there at all. I was not practicing, all I wanted was to go back to my material life which was infinitely more attractive to me. I had lost taste in sadhana, and I had no way to understand how to get back into it. Because I find this material world so very seducing. I love it. I like technology and gadgets. I might even like people as long as I can control who and restrict access to me. I love my little world that I have built. I told Didi this and she warned me that if I didn’t start practicing I could loose all bhakti. I heard her – but it didn’t change me.

So I finally got home – and I still didn’t practice. And what happened? I lost the job I loved, my son is with his father, I will loose all money, and the roof over my head. Okey, it may not be as bad as I portray it, but it can easily go that way. I went into a dark, dark hole and couldn’t recover. Truth is, I see no future for me anymore. I wish someone could just put me out of my agony so I can be reborn in what hopefully will be better circumstances.

In those moments I received a mail: “Didi said today that if you don’t follow, then many things will weaken in your life, including your writing.”

It was impeccable timing as my life was weakening extremly quickly. Losing my job was like somebody taking the floor beneath me and I was freeflying, just waiting for the inevitable splat.

This time the message sunk in, and I began chanting again. I did my japa that day. The next day as I was closing in on the end of my rounds, one verse lodged itself into my mind.

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

This verse have worried me for quite some time, because it has felt relevant to me. My life has been hard. I have constantly been swimming against the current, but not really been able to make much difference with my circumstances.

This time I have been given a real though blow which I don’t think I will be able to recover from. I have given up now, I see that I have no future. Whatever I try to do, it will not give even the slightest rewards that I think I deserve. And I have worked so hard to try to change my life in a positive direction.

So I began reading about this verse, and I kept coming across these sentences that just screamed – “This is me!”.

When a Vaiṣṇava, pure devotee, tries to be materially opulent and at the same time desires to serve the Supreme Lord, his devotional service is checked. The Lord, in order to show him a special favor, destroys his so-called economic development and material opulences. Thus the devotee, being frustrated in his repeated attempts at economic development, ultimately takes solid shelter under the lotus feet of the Lord.
… Lord Kṛṣṇa says that He takes everything away from the devotee whom He especially favors when that devotee is overly attached to material possessions.

 

… The Lord said to Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, “The first installment of My mercy toward a devotee is that I take away all his possessions, especially his material opulence, his money.” This is the special favor of the Lord toward a sincere devotee.

Source: Vaniquotes.org

I am overly attached to material possessions, I love living in this material world and I don’t want to give it up. So much so that I want material life more than doing sadhana – every day.

Then I came to this purport and (one of) the real meaning of my name was revealed:

Hari, hari means “who takes away all your miserable conditions.” Hari, haran, harati. Harati means take away. He comes here just to give you benediction, to save you from all kinds of miseries. Therefore His name is Hari.

Haridasi

The “servant” who everything will be taken away from her.

 

If you think this is a benediction – think again. Would you be exhilarated at the thought of receiving special mercy? I’m not. I want material opulence. My name now sounds ominous.
My material life is being ripped away from me, but I keep on clinging to it because I don’t want to give it up. I don’t want to be a devotee. I just want to… you know… say a few hare krishnas whenever it pleases me and believe when it pleases me. I don’t want to live in vrindavin and be a full time devotee. I don’t want to live a nun lifestyle, throwing around the most prized word in the devotee language: mercy. Uttered with a special smile and glazed eyes.
I don’t want to be that person Krishna is forcing me to be. Why can’t I just be me and still belong to Krishna in the way I want. But noo, it has to be on his terms. So if you think you have free will in this life, think again. The only will you have is to go by His rules or not. And if you don’t go by His rules, you will be severly punished. In my case, my spiritual name even forbodes it.
Everything inside me just screams “Fuck that!”. But you know – that would neither be devotee-like or lady-like. But may be I don’t want to be neither, either.

Mercy equals joy? In life?

I have never really understood the usage of the word “mercy”. Mercy is unpredictable. It makes us dependant on something… undefined. We rely on the mercy of Guru and the vaishnavas. Then we have to get the approval from the guru parampara so that they will distribute their mercy. Even bhakti is dependant on mercy, not by our own efforts. Bhakti is even personified as bhakti devi – one more person we have to somehow get this unpredictable, undefined mercy.

“In spiritual life, nothing is a formality.”

This may be frustrating for us, because we like things to be ordered. We want effort to equal reward. But spiritual progress doesn’t work like that. What is mercy anyway?

My life seems to be molded in the furnace of hell. The more mature I get, the more resistance and tougher lessons I receive. But it has the other quality as well, the harsher lessons, the more happier I’m afterwards. I’m more mature, have learned to deal with things better, I have more tools in my toolbox of life. Mercy in the form of resistance and grit.

I find it reassuring that mercy is not dependant on my effort, because I suck at it. But my sincerity is there, my desire is there, just not very bloomed. So I receive so much challenges so I don’t stop because I may just end up being very happy and content with my life.

This is a descending process, not an ascending one. Which means that my effort will not make me progress (though of course it doesn’t hurt). It’s a descending process.

There is a story about Guru Nanak. He was very fond of payasam and he vomited. So on this day he gave it up. After vomiting he told himself, “This happened because I have such taste for this preperation, so eat it now! Eat it!”

The devotees attitude should be, “I am unable to control my limbs, I have no capability to control my organs. The Lord must help me.” This is the correct process. Gur Nanak’s approach was a long procedure because it was an ascending process, not a descending one”

Sri Guru-vani, Sri Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja

I’m allowed to sleep now, so I’m going back to being a functional human being. Furthermore, I’ve gotten a job as a Linux Technician which I absolutely love (and is absolutely challenging and frustrating in the beginning phase).

So what is happening? I’m becoming so happy, so content because the tide has turned. But the influx of feelings is tiresome. When I got the apartment I live in, I was so happy and loved it. Then it turned to hell when I was not allowed to sleep. Now I have gotten a job I absolutely love. Will that experience also turn into hell?

“If we want to enjoy the pleasures of this world, we will suffer, because all diseases will come”.  Sri Guru-vani, Sri Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja

I’m thoroughly enjoying myself (even though I’m being so very challenged). I truly enjoy living. When I’m not being tortured, I love my life. I keep on molding my life until I become so very happy. Then there’s setbacks, then the tide turns again. For each challenge I overcome, the more happy I become. But am I turning my mercy unto material enjoyment?

God created this world, so why shouldn’t I enjoy it? I love this new job. Why can’t I think that God gave it to me because he wanted me to improve this world this way? I believe God wants me to enjoy it while I’m still His. I don’t see this enjoyment as bad. I see it as a reflection of his mercy, which he can take away if he wants. Isn’t God using this world to improve us and the people around us? Why wouldn’t He put us in a position where we do this – even on the material plane.

The first was when I developed the opinion in 1993 that a significant majority of people in charge of ISKCON were downright phobic of real Krishna consciousness, unless it was forced into the most starched, pressed, shaved, and bleached/dyed robes; Xeroxed and stamped bona-fide by GBC resolution. I realized they would never really embrace and support a personality like mine, which expresses itself without conformity to uniforms and bureaus. They would always keep me in the curtained corners of the rooms reserved for  “dissidents,” “sahajīya” and “gopī-bhāva club members.” Vraja Kishore

What made Srila Prabhupada an enlightened being who at first was married with an ayurvedic medicine business? Gurudeva was a policeman before he joined Kesava Maharaja. I can’t help but think that one of the reasons they stand out is not (only) because of their surrender, but their unrelenting creativity of personality. Spiritual surrender requires being creative in navigating life and our spiritual quest. It means we keep on trying to improve our lives, and it makes us happier in the long run – even materially. But that material quality must not trap us, it somehow have to live side by side for a long while with our material life. Living the grihasta life.

I realized they would never really embrace and support a personality like mine, which expresses itself without conformity to uniforms and bureaus.

This sentence describes me so well. I don’t conform. I think for myself, not just blindly follow and accept. Will organizations always have troubles with these individuals, and not harness their strength? There is strength in numbers, even when they are deviating. Strength in numbers mean controlling others. But those with creativity will always try to break those limitations put upon them. Gurudeva did when He preached about manjari bhava – openly and unapologetically. By breaking limitations one becomes happier – and receive resistance for it. People will always try to put them down. Mercy will zero out the problems.

I’m still not at a place where I’m equipoised about all the things that is happening to me. I crave for stability in my life, but it seems like Krishna has other plans for me. I have to use all the creativity I have to strive for balance. It’s easy to see the mercy when things are good and I enjoy life. It’s also then I can see the mercy in the bad times. And somehow I just seem to climb to higher places of happiness each time.

The Dark night of the soul

Depression is a psychological sickness, a dark night is a spiritual trial
Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

Sometimes our faith is seriously challenged. It happens when something earth shattering
happens to us. It can be rape, abuse, torture, depression, natural disasters, sick loved ones, chronic pain, a debilitated child, death of a child. It can happen in a second and change everything. It can happen over a long, long time.

Our faith is tested, and we may not come out the other side victorious. This momentous change has broken something in us. The “idea” of justice, the idea that our body is our own, the idea that we have the right to live a life in private, that our lives matter and is valued.

We may experience that this is not the case. We may experience that basic human needs are a privilege not afforded to us. In its wake, we become broken. It’s such a huge paradigm shift that we begin to classify our lives before and after the event.

After The Event, we are somebody else. We are different. In its wake we are shattered, in
pieces and we don’t know how to put ourselves back together again. We realize that it’s not possible to be the person we were before this happened.

We have to become something else because we are different. We may begin to think that we have to become something else – but this something else is something lesser. Something worse and because of it we become an even worse person – happiness becomes denied to us.

Or we can choose the other side and decide the event will have melted us down and in its wake we will become molded into something much stronger.

It’s a decision. If it’s already in your life spark, it will come forward in time.

But in the mean time one may have to take a leave of absence when it comes to faith.
It may even be healthy for us to do so.

There’s so much pain that needs to be released after such an event. The pain has filled us up and leave little or no room for faith to work on us.
The belief that we can change, that the belief changes us.

Belief is a feeling that resides in us, and that feeling have gone. We stopped feeling it and we feel lost.

Where do we go from here?

We will know within us what steps to take. If we need a break, we will know it and should listen to it.
But it’s equally important to listen when the whisper within us tells us to try to move back.
We have to learn to listen to the whisper, heed its call, even when it seems counter to everything we have learned.
If we keep on pushing because our minds tells us a different story from the whisper of our hearts, we become harder. Less tolerant, more fragile.

I haven’t reached the end of my Dark night of the soul, so I can’t tell you what is there at the end. I do believe I have moved towards rehabilitation, but I still live under a constant threat.

A true dark night of the soul is not a surface challenge but a development that takes you away from the joy of your ordinary life.

Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

This experience has changed me. I used to believe that man was inherently good. This belief is gone in me. Now I believe that man is selfish and I instead look at people and wonder how much will they try to take and damage in me. I’m a very open person, but this is slowly changing. I don’t believe in the goodness in people anymore.

I’m alone and there is so little goodness afforded me from other people. People will happily accept good from others and give so little in return. Forgetting what they themselves have received.

There are people that want to harm you and that derive great satisfaction from the damage they are doing to you. They can be relentless, never stopping where days turn into weeks, months and suddenly a year has gone by. They never stop hurting you because it satisfies the empty whole in their being. They have no conscience.

Now I will be able to recognize this defect in people. I have learned how to maneuver such bad people. How? By not reacting to their insanity at all, but instead continue like normal as if nothing has happened. To never utter a bad word, instead such people can only be met with nice words even when they hurl evil towards you.
You have to go against your every instinct. Distanced niceness is the only way to deal with them. Never let them get the impression that they are hurting you as they will enjoy it and use that information to do worse.

I have learned a lot. I’m not the same person I was a year ago. I have been denied basic human needs. I have learned that I can be broken. Despite having tolerated not sleeping for about a year, I now know that I can be broken even more. What happens when I will be denied food?

I have tried to find things in the scriptures about evil, but there is none to be found. Instead it talks about the sins. Pride, anger etc, but it becomes shallow compared to what you you go through.

Lower than a blade of grass is what you can become. A grass will always bend when trampled and rise again when untrampled.
Lower than a blade of grass means your life is insignificant. It has not any worth for anybody. It will not be protected.

The police will not be there to help you, not family, not friends. People will instead “disappear” when they realize that something is seriously wrong. Most will not understand what you go through. They will see your strange behavior and think that there is something wrong with you – not understanding that what you really are having is a healthy reaction to a torturous experience.

Because they are unable to comprehend torture. They are unable to comprehend evil they have not experienced themselves.
Even their imaginations fail to imagine something so bad.

You are alone.

What do you do when the scriptures comes up short?

To believe in something is something you do for yourself.

We experience something that is beyond our comprehension. Some take refuge in their belief.I did, then I didn’t when it failed to help me.

It took some time, but in the end I found something that put what I was going through into perspective. I had tried to understand the evil I experienced, but there was nothing on that. It didn’t occur to me to look into suffering. May be because I was in such pain that I didn’t want to read about it as well. I didn’t want to hear about how we have to tolerate suffering when I was barely functioning and didn’t understand what I was dealing with.

It can seem like whatever happened is not spiritually conducive. For example when devotees die too early in tragic accidents. It appears meaningless.

The dark night of the soul is a transformation. We’re unable to see what that transformation is because we are not there. I used to think that if God could just tell me what He wanted from me, I would give it to Him. But instead He used the situation to soften me enough to be ready for what He wanted me to do. I was hammered into submission.

I used to think that because we are devotees and trying to use our lives to grow spiritually we were somehow protected. I don’t think like this anymore. I think we experience suffering to grow, but I don’t think we are protected.

Or.. well, that is not entirely correct. I don’t think we should be protected anymore. Suffering is just there, whether we are devotees or not. Suffering is there to be transcended. If we are unable to transcend it, it means we still have something to learn from it. If it is untolerable and it seems like there is no spiritual lesson there, then we might just be in the process of being hammered into something soft enough.

It is said that great personalities almost always accept voluntary inconvenience because of the suffering of people in general. This is considered the highest method of worshiping the Supreme Soul, who is present in everyone’s heart.
Bhagavat Purana 8.7.44

When I became the victim of a malignant narcissist I didn’t understand why I had to go through this. I had already learned the lesson of tolerance (though of course there’s always more tolerance to learn). But why? Why tolerate so much, 24/7 until days became a year?

Sometimes a dark night makes sense because of what it contributes to others, not what it does for you.
Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

Because increased tolerance was only a bi-product of other, more important lessons. I’m able to chant mentally now all the time. I would quickly be able to recognize a person without a conscience if I meet them again. I know how to deal with those kinds of beings.  But learning to inconvenience myself… that’s a lesson that I still need to develop.

But a step on the way is gratefulness. I had a year of being angry at God, then disappointed, then I needed a break. Then I stopped praying for material things. Slowly, I began just thanking whenever I had a moment of lessening (or not). It’s easy to find something to be grateful about – however small and it didn’t need to be related to my hell at all.

I had reached a stage of understanding. It took forever to understand that I was dealing with a malignant narcissist. It took a longer time to understand what that entails. Then it took forever to get to a place to really learn and practice how to deal with these creatures. I don’t call them human – because they aren’t. They are human like in their shape – but that’s all.  The resemblance ends there.

A Dark night of the soul event transforms us. We are not the same person as before it happened. We have to find joy again, but where we find it might be different. We have to put ourselves together in another way.

I’ve only just begun the process of putting myself together, except this time it will not be with cafe’s, moccas and fixing unhealthy thought patterns reading and digesting personal development books because my thought patterns are okey.

Now I have to put myself together in another way. A deeper way that goes even further. I hear the whisper that tells me what to do. Or actually, the whisper tells me to do something I resist doing. Mostly, I just stay in bed. I have been doing this for months now. I usually have a lot of projects and do so much, and I still do. Only to end up even more exhausted than before. But whenever I wake up and finish with the mechanics of the mornings, I get to the point where I ask myself: What do you want to do today?
The answer is always the same: Stay in bed. So I stay in bed until I have to get up because there’s so much I need to do, except I’m always behind on my chores because I need to stay in bed.

Why do I need to stay in bed? Why am I exhausted beyond physical exhaustion? That’s where the whisper comes in. It tells me to meditate. Do japa. Read books. I need to let go of the thoughts telling me that I need to get a job, to be social, to push through and be a productive member of society.

The whisper tells me I need to do the opposite of what comes natural to me. I have changed, so I need to change into something else because I’m different. The meditation will begin to take me there. The whisper tells me that maybe, just maybe after this dark night I’m supposed to become a tool for God and do whatever He wants me to and that’s why I haven’t been able to get a job. That whisper wants to become a bigger part of me and will begin to show me the way if I just open up for Him. The uncertainty of what will become of me is difficult and part of that dark night. Maybe I’m wrong about everything? What is the meaning of this? What will become of me?

All I know is that there is a big need for me to hibernate, to remove myself from people and the world. To go within – whatever that means.

Finally, and this may be the most difficult task of all, give yourself what you need at the deepest level. Care rather than cure. Organize your life to support the process. You are incubating your soul, not living a heroic adventure. Arrange life accordingly. Tone it down. Get what comforts you can, but don’t move against the process. Concentrate, reflect, think, and talk about your situation seriously with trusted friends.
Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

What I believed to be a big obstacle (the need to rest) is actually a gift. That need has been there for months, and now I understand that it will not disappear until I have done exactly that and extracted the gifts in this need. Because behind this need is an even deeper calling I need to heed.

 

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
Carl Jung

 

Living a story

There are different ways of learning, but there is one way of learning that is very effective with devotees. It’s experience. Being put into hard situations where we somehow have to learn how to swim.

I have been quiet for some time now.

It’s because I’m living a story now. A story that is changing me. How I am. How I deal with things. I’m not the same person I was just six months ago.

I think the hard part of the story is over now.

Now I’m dealing with the aftermath. I have to work out a new way of being, of living. I loved my life before “the big paradigm shift” happened. Now I have to figure out a new way of happiness because I’m different.

This is how change works. I would never be able to write this blog if I didn’t have the ability to change. So please bear with me and forgive me. I’m on my way back to you. I wonder how my association with this blog changes. It will be exciting for me to see.

For You

By Madan Oppenheimer

I write for you seekers,
for I’m one of you;
I share things found on the way.

I search for the exit,
the way out of matter;
imprisoned in night and day.

I try to be honest,
and filter out falsehood;
for me life isn’t a game.

I write for you seekers
so I’ll feel less lonely;
I’m hoping you’ll feel the same.

Source: Waves of Devotion

Constantly chanting

13177750_10208391170194310_732364206427738780_nI was introduced to Krishna consciousness when I was 17, and got into it immediately. I quickly understood one was supposed to chant all the time – literally. I was new – I was pumped with enthusiasm and I was blissfully unaware and ignorant of what spiritual life really was.

I tried to chant, but was not good at it. I tried to remember to always chant, but I was completely unable to do so. I didn’t understand that I had no qualification to chant much and I couldn’t understand why it didn’t happen. So in the end, I got upset with Krishna and told him in no uncertain terms that I should be chanting the maha mantra mentally, continuosly, without stop.

……….. and I was heard.

It’s such a long time ago, but I think in the beginning I was pleased. My mind was chanting the maha-mantra on it’s own. My mind was taken over by this process which kept on chanting. It took over all my capacity. Sure, I was able to do things, but the mantra was shouting in my head, not letting me go. The hours past, a day went by. I don’t know how long I lasted.

In the end I was exhausted. I wanted my mind back. The mantra was so loud in my mind, it didn’t let me think of other stuff, it left no room for other things than the mantra. I ended up praying to Krishna to please take the mantra away. I couldn’t take it anymore.

…. and the mantra let go of me. I sighed in relief. It was finally quiet in my mind again. Now I could fill the mind with whatever I wanted.

Years went past. I had similar experiences without me needing to ask for it. The mantra came into my mind and lodged itself there.

At some point I recognized that something new had happened – that the mantra had spawned off as it’s own process in my mind. I could be doing something, thinking on whatever – and suddenly realize that I was chanting. The chanting process was working on me even if I had completely forgotten it and been focusing on something else for a long time. Then a moment of recognition came when I realize that the mantra was still doing it’s work.

But I still had the same experience, the mantra at some point exhausted me and I had to ask it to please leave. At some point even though the mantra may have been soft, it felt like it was shouting in my mind and I just wanted some peace of mind.

More years went by, and I haven’t really paid much attention to this mantra process and it has been taking a back burner. Though, it have been as recently as this year that I still had to ask the mantra to leave me.

But I have also not been satisfied with my japa efforts. I have tried to get back in the saddle and do well for a small amount of time. Then I accepted that I’m not in a place where sitting down to do japa is what I need to do now.

So what was left?

I haven’t consistently chanted 16 rounds of japa for years and years. But then the thought struck me – if I just keep on chanting in my mind all day long – what is the need for sitting down to do japa?

I remembered all my failures at mentally chanting. Then I thought that it didn’t matter anymore.

So I began to chant mentally. This time I had to work on the mantra. It didn’t come to me and lodged itself in my mind. But the mantra was soft, a nice whisper in my mind and as I was going about my day, the mantra was with me. Sometimes I got so immersed into what I was doing that I forgot the mantra. Then I just began the process again.

Sometimes I was immersed in my activities, only to realize that the mantra process was still there without me even “hearing” it.

Then the moment came, where the mantra was so loud in my mind. It was shouting and it made me tired. But this time I had a plan on how to deal with it: I asked Gurudeva and Krishna to please soften the mantra in my mind. I didn’t want to loose it, just that it took a little less space.

…….. and I was heard.

This has been going on for a week now I think. I don’t count the days, because this is of no effort to me. Only once have I needed to ask the mantra to please soften.

It doesn’t feel intruding anymore – instead its soft, quiet, calm. It gives me space. It keeps with me, it leaves me. I just chant and get it back on track when I notice it. Hours turns into days.

And somehow my qualification to chant continously took twenty years. Anything worth doing requires a lot of time and troubleshooting to get qualified. It requires that we recognize our limitations and work within them. And when we see our limitations and start to think of how we can move around them – that’s when the breakthrough comes.