Keeping our prioritizes straight in troubling times

I was on my way to my regular cafe when I met an acquaintance of mine. During our quick talk she asked me if I was Christian, and I said that I had a little known religion – the Hare Krishna’s.

“Oh, I was on the way to become a Hare Krishna when I was younger”, she told me.
“I went to a temple there and they were very strict about controlling peoples sexuality. They didn’t even have doors on the toilet. And further down in the stair there were mirrors , so anybody could look into the toilet when somebody was there.”

I cringed. Then I cringed again.

People oftentimes leave this belief, or at least stay away, but may keep some shadow of the philosophy in them. The story above isn’t even extreme when it comes to the things that have taken place. But nowhere is it stated that this is okey. Usually people leave because this life style becomes too austere, too intense, and they aren’t mature enough spiritually to deal with it properly. They get an adverse reaction.

It isn’t the philosophy which advocates a very idealized version of how to live. It’s the errors humans make that ruins things. It’s the lack of maturity and tolerance in dealing with conflicts, disagreements, quarrels and all the things that follows with people. It’s a lack of keeping what’s important in the forefront of our priorities.

And what is that?

tasmad gurum prapadye

tajijnasuh shreya uttamam

shabde pare cha nishna

tambrahmany upashamashrayam

SB 11.3.21/SBG p. 314/BRSB p. 38, 44/Arcana-dipika/Guru-Devatatma p. 11

 

Therefore (because one cannot attain real peace or happiness in this material world), a person who seriously desires the ultimate spiritual perfection must seek a bona fide Guru and take shelter of him. The qualifications of Sri Guru is that (1) he has fully realised the Vedic scriptures (sabda-brahma) and (2) the Supreme Absolute Truth (para-brahma), and (3) for whom the mundane world holds no charm whatsoever.

Make sure that one is in the association of a pure devotee. But how many of us are able to stay in association of a pure devotee? I’m not.

So how do I deal with disappointment in a so-called guru and a sanga’s way of dealing with bad behavior and even crimes?

I first realized that the issue didn’t make any difference to my faith in Gurudeva and this philosophy. Their truth still stood strong and correct.

My second realization is that I have to keep a healthy distance between my beliefs and human errors. Now this is easy when I live with no association what so ever, but living a life in this material world is teaching me one thing. Keep a healthy distance. Disappointments are fine, it’s part of life. Learn from them, but not let it affect you.

Thirdly, just keep on chanting, reading, doing your bhajana. In the end, all the badness (and goodness) is just a mental exercise. I have to make sure that the only thing that gets between the bond between me and my Guru is me. I can do something about me. What I can’t do is focus on everybody else.

This advice is only for people that aren’t in the position to do something about it. If one is in the middle of it and are affecting the situation, these advice helps, but there are much more to it than that.

People makes mistakes. That’s okey, it’s not the end of the world. But if you lack the sense of discrimination in a bad situation, it will affect you negatively. That’s when you have to search the scriptures to find what the correct behavior in the situation are. Seek advice and make sure they are in accordance with the scriptures. And never give up, be disappointed and disparaged, but never give up. Use your intelligence to make sure you take care of yourself appropriately and that it will not affect your faith badly.

And that’s one of the areas where I have found a test – if something affects my faith badly, I know I’m doing something wrong in that situation. Then I ask myself why.

So recognize when something resonates badly in you, and then make a change with yourself that changes the situation to a good one for you. Just make sure that it increases your faith, not diminish it.

Hating life spiritually

I’m going through some rough times where every day is becoming more and more about surviving just one more day. I woke up one day with my son crying and the first sentence I uttered before I was even out of bed was “I hate my life”. In Norway we have a saying: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. That’s utterly bullshit, of course. The truth is more in terms of “What doesn’t kill you, you persevere”.

Or how about that quote every krishna conscious devotee and ex-devotees have heard: “Chant and be happy!” Well, when is that happiness coming, because it sure can’t be found here much?

I do believe the quote from Srila Prabhupada, but I also know it’s not easily attained. I will probably not realize it fully in this lifetime. So how do I approach dealing with a hard life when there is no spiritual books to guide me?

Turns out that I was wrong. The books I needed somehow ended up in the mail at the time I needed them. Three months ago I purchased some books written by Gour Govinda Swami: Trnad api sunicena, Vedic dharma and the grahasta-ashrama and Encountering the Krshnalingita Vigraha. Shipping ends up costing almost as much as the books even when you choose the three months delivery option, but it was well worth the wait.

20121209-122757.jpgI browsed through the table of contents and quickly found out that trnad api sunicena was the book to start with? Just read these titles:
How to develop tolerance, Happiness and distress is mental concoctions, humility is needed, Crookedness – the great stumbling block, society without envy, the source of envy and intolerance.

I found exactly what I needed in my current situation, a whole book dedicated to how I develop tolerance, how to deal with the distress I’m drowning in etc. I’m already almost half way into the book as I’ve devoured the book any spare moment I have. On hating my life I got a new perseptive from the book I have to work myself through:

In the world of duality – that is to say, in the material world – so-called goodness and badness are both the same. Therefore, in this world, to distinguish between good and bad, happiness and distress, is meaningless because they are both mental concoctions (manodharma)…

mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya
śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha-dāḥ
āgamāpāyino ‘nityās
tāḿs titikṣasva bhārata
Bhagavad-gita 2.14

“O son of Kunti, the non-permanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.”

So that is part of my lesson right now. To tolerate distress without it affecting my mood and bhajana. So: tolerance, tolerance, tolerance, perseverance. That is my motto and mantra for the time being. Let’s hope I learn this lesson fast.