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.

Hearing and chanting

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.

 

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.

I reserve the right to be offended

There’s a letter now circulating on Facebook which speaks against a person who is apparantly writing offensive things both over emails and on Facebook. I do not link to this as I see it as hanging people out to dry.

Which is ironic considering that’s exactly what people think I’m doing in the case of PP. So I will therefore specify my intentions: I believe there is a difference between siddhantic debates, crimes and deviations. PP is challenged both when it comes to siddhanta and in terms of a crime. I haven’t publicized deviations and I so far have not allowed deviations and hanging people out on my blog.

I find that people in the sanga has a very black and white thinking, unable to see or accept nuances and distinctions. It’s one of the things I try to add to the conversation. It requires the ability to view multiple viewpoints at the same time and be able to navigate between them. It also means I have to see that not everything I say or do is positive, that I may create damage. I have to accept that I can make mistakes and will get corrected/resistance for it.

And I’m fine with it.

There is one word that is very infected in our faith – “offences”. Committing offences towards Vaishnavas has to be challenged, it has to be put down and the rightousness of the correct party has to be victorious. Apparantly this person is writing a lot of offensive things and therefore has to be vanquished. So how do we vanquish – yes, we publish very private details about that persons faults.

And we do not like to read such offensive materials – we reserve the right to not be offended, so we have to make a big deal out of it.

But you know what? We don’t have to react to every persons gibberish by being offended. We can just block it, decide to not give that person any more attention than what’s needed. Or we can quietly disagree on that persons page, over the privacy of emails or whatever. We don’t have to react by digging into that persons personality publicly. We can even disagree with that person publicly, but let’s just not dig into that persons personality. Let’s instead address what that person writes.

We should not be so easily offended. We can’t expect that our emails should only contain things we agree with and are pleasant. We can’t expect that our Facebook feed contains only non-controversial subject matters which requires nothing of us.

We need people that gives resistance, disagrees and brings forward unpleasant things. But we need to make distinctions between those who bring constructive feedback and those who only wants to sow conflicts and havoc in their wake.

And we need to do all that while maintaining our bhajan. If these things disturbs your bhajan – then shut it off for a while until your bhajan is stable enough to deal with it. But do not expect that people should stop offending you, just because you don’t like it. Learn to set up your boundaries instead.

Denial

A person can be empowered to do one or more service to Krishna. This empowerment will enthuse others, make them receive so much inspiration and joy in their service to Krishna.

Empowerment does not equal being a Bhagavat and that this person is someone to accept as siksa. It means that there is a certain function this person is supposed to perform, and all glories to that person for performing it.

There has been one issue that has become a public secret. It’s troublesome that it’s not being dealt with to my knowledge.

While the sannyasis may debate tattva and authenticity, that is their prerogative and duty. But there is one other HUGE issue that is not dealt with, but lies there in the background. Not really used as an argument and rightly so because it’s an issue that should be handled on its own.

There is an accusation of the molestation of a couple of boys (children young adults) by Premananda Prabhu (PP). There is a recorded talk with at least one of the mothers of the molested boys.

The biggest indicator that our sangha is sick, is that this is not being dealt with. Why?

The only reason I can fathom is because there is no authority to deal with it – the sannyasi council or whatever have no real power to enforce rules and restrictions on anybody. I don’t know. This is very disturbing.

This is not a case of deviation – something between two consenting adults. These are allegations of a crime. A crime should always be reported to the police – preferably in both india and the country of origin of the boys/young adults.

These are allegations – so it’s not something that has been proven. But it should be investigated. By the police and by the sangha.

In such cases there should be one devotee who has the main responsibility to take care of the family of the victim, and one devotee with the main responsibility to take care of the alleged perpetrator.

The alleged perpetrator should never be allowed to be alone with any person below the age of 18 until the claims have been resolved.

The discussions regarding siddhanta is actually a healthy sign of the sangha – it means it’s alive and kicking. But this – this is the real test because it requires so much cooperation, tender management and know how.

PP has been empowered to build Gurudevas samidhi and does a wonderful job at that. His followers are enthusiastic and receive a lot of joy from working with him. This is not something to marginalize in any way. All I’m saying is that these allegations needs to be dealt with and resolved somehow.

There can be no room for such allegations to run amok within our community.

Update 08. october: When I first heard the rumor I was told it was children involved. Now that I have more sources and evidence, this seems mistaken. The alleged victims involved are young adults. Though we are still speaking of a crime, it lessens the heaviness of the issue a lot. So this should be noted by everyone.


I need to point out that this is something I have decided to publish on my own (like everything on this blog). It’s not something I have asked any devotee from KBM about.

 

What to believe?

The question of authenticity of the biography of Premananda Prabhu has reared it’s head again with Bhaktivedanta Damodara Maharaja. Then comes the refutations.

Damodar Maharaja points out specific flaws in the biography from Premananda Prabhu with page numbers, and especially whether these stories can be verified. The refutations claims the stories can be verified, but points to one person who is dead and therefore can’t speak for himself. Then of course, they claim that two devotees following Premananda can verify it, whereby Damodar Maharaja claims they may be lying.

So who to believe? It goes into the heart of difficulty: “Who to trust?”

We would like to think devotees are inherently trustworthy, but that may not be so.

How do we know if somebody is a pure devotee or not? Followers of Prabhuji claims he is, KBM claims he isn’t. The followers of KBM claims Didi and Madhusudhana Maharaja is Bhagavats, others think they are imposters and fabricators.

Who to believe?

First time I met Gurudeva, Aranya Maharaja (now Prema Prajojana) said I should take Harinama from him.
Me: “But I don’t know if he is a pure devotee. Should I take Harinama if I’m not sure?”
Aranya Maharaja: “Yes”.

In some ways I was tricked into taking Harinama, but I was lucky. Gurudeva turned out to be a pure devotee. But how could I have known He was? I didn’t have the vision to know and I still don’t. My way of reasoning was that He had such a great many followers, so therefore I had to take my trust in them.

Now we are in a position where we have so many groups and differences between them. What to belive?

“The path of bhakti is very small”, I saw in a comment from one of the devotees from KBM. It’s true.

A person may have served and surrendered his life to Krishna and his Guru, but it doesn’t mean he is a Bhagavat. There may still be so much aparadha there, a desire for followers and fame. It’s possible to serve Krishna tinged with self-service.

I’m one of those. I want to live a comfortable life while being a devotee. Because of this I also know that I can’t fool around. When I decide to take siksa from someone, I want it to be authentic.

We have to guard our creeper of devotion.

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Krishna will cheat us if we have some self-service in us. Many follow Gurudeva blindly. I’m not one of them, even though I have taken diksa from Gurudeva. For me this world is the real one, so if what He tells me is true, He has to prove it every step of the way. So far Gurudeva has proven it in the personal growth I have had, and that I see how what He says aligns with that. But in my perspective, Gurudeva has to prove himself to me. He’s the one with the outrageous claims of a spiritual world we can enter, so He’s gotta prove it. I will use my intelligence every step of the way.

When I first heard and saw pictures of Bhakti Vijana Bharati Maharaja I felt an attraction to him. Then the debate between KBM and the rest of the sangha happened, and I had to use my intelligence to understand the siddhanta. I found that Didi and Madhusudana Maharaja presented the siddhanta expertly and convincingly. Since then I went to Vrindavin last Christmas and will go again this Christmas. Do I believe Didi and Madhusudhan Maharaja is Bhagavats? I don’t know. I know their followers believe so. I’m still on the fence, but I find their way of challenging the status quo to be interesting. That is what makes me curious. I see how the siddhanta is presented deeper than I have been able to penetrate – that makes me curious.

What is it that makes us want to follow somebody? For me it’s about the level of siddhanta they can present. If I struggle to follow it, I love it because it challenges me to go deeper, understand more. That attracts me.

What attracts you? Why does it attract you?

Bhakti – Love is an emotion. Who to follow should not only be an emotional decision. It also needs to be grounded in intelligence. Use it whatever way you decide.