Chant and be happy

What is happiness anyway?

It’s a byproduct – something that happens when you are doing something else. Nobody can decide “Now I’m happy” and lo and behold “suddenly you are happy”. That’s the problem with happiness – it’s just too big, too loaded.

smile

Then I realized I had something even more important. I’m attracted. I’m attracted to chanting, to reading my Gurudeva’s books, reading about the pastimes, the kirtans, everything. Sure, I’ve had moments where it becomes to intense, too tiresome, too … “give me a breather!”, but the attraction is there.

And isn’t attraction a sort of happiness? When there is attraction we naturally gravitate towards it, we find it pleasurable and continue doing it. Which is probably why I continue chanting and reading. There is something there, in those activities that is just…. right. There are moments where I just want to give it all up, and I do – for that moment. The next day I’m right back at it, may be a bit grumpy about it, but still. I’m there. Continuing even when there doesn’t seem to be any progress. The progress is that I’m still there. Continuing.

But then, if there is no progress, what’s the point anyway? The progress is there, but it’s just too slow for me to really notice. But when I have these moments of clarity, I do see it. There is progress, however slow.

When I’m not that satisfied, I can always rely on another wisdom. We are striving for service to Gurudeva. So even if I haven’t realized my spiritual identity, I can still do the important part. To keep aspiring to do service to Gurudeva. That will not change no matter what I have realized or not. As long as I keep aspiring to do better for my Gurudeva, then I’m alright.

So thank you Gurudeva, for making this spiritual process available to me. I hope you will continue guiding me through all my faults.

Service is not an act, but a habit

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Aristotle

What if there are more to being miserable, than just learning to endure?

Jayanta dasa: Srila Gurudeva, as we perform our service, how can we know in our hearts that we are actually pleasing you?
Srila Gurudeva: Your soul will be happy. You will realize, “I am happy.” If one truly renders service to Srila Gurudeva, he will realize this. By seeing Gurudeva’s face, you will feel his benediction and mercy. On the other hand, if guru or Vaiasnavas are not satisfied with you, you will know it because you feel some unhappiness:

sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
ahaituky apratihata
yayatma suprasidati
Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.6)

[The supreme occupation (dharma) for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self. *]

The symptom of unmotivated service is that one will surely be happy.
Source: Remembering The Lord’s Pure Devotees

heart-lock

So I’m right back at the “Chant and be happy” quote which I have problems agreeing with. At first I thought that there may be two divisions, material happiness and spiritual happiness. Materiel happiness is equated to tasting a little bit of honey while being in a perilous situation. Material happiness I know a little about, I have 35 years of experience in that field knowing moments of it’s counterpart with an “un” before it.

Then I realised that happiness is a feeling. When speaking about spiritual life, there words “eternity” and “ever new”, “fresh” are used which can also relate to feelings. Yet I still think there is a difference to spiritual happiness, but I don’t know what.

So what service could I do that would make Gurudeva happy with me? None. I try to chant every day, but happiness isn’t really the word I would use. “Calmness” and “leaning towards that place of rightness” is more my experience. Happiness seems to be such a huge word that requires so much effort that it’s intimidating. Trying to serve Gurudeva is intimidating. When I think of what it would require of me to serve Gurudeva, I get intimidated. I have more than enough of dealing with a job and a son, and I’m overwhelmed. I don’t have what it takes to distribute books, throw sunday parties with food and a lecture etc. When I get my son to bed, I crash in the sofa and I’m usually in bed by nine pm.

I want to experience that Gurudeva is happy with me. I hope he will settle for me reading the vedas, and I will try to chant a bit more rounds today like I do every day.

I will let you know if the happiness settles in.

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.