Falling in love

7024081929695_0When I first saw that lamp, I was sold. I fell in love with the lamp and knew that was the lamp I will have above my dining table. I don’t purchase things unless I fall in love with them and I revel in it. It’s important to me to surround myself with beauty and I treasure it every time I lay my eyes on it. I don’t care about the price, I’m in love.

So I set my goal on the prize, get determined, figure out the way to get it and wait… I perform the necessary steps until I get what I want.

I know all about settings goals, figure out the necessary steps and having the determination to achieve it. I have whatever grit and tolerance to do whatever that’s needed. When I first set my eyes on something and make that decision – then I don’t let anything get in my way. There may be many obstacles, but somehow I manage to deal with them.

I have decided that Krishna is a prize. I have figured out that he is a worthy goal to pursue. He is a thing of beauty, and I will purchase him. I don’t care about the price, but I know what the price is. I have to purchase Him with the maha-mantra. I have to bind Him to the mantra. The maha-mantra is mine, and I will bind Him to it. I don’t care what he wants, this is what I want.

I don’t know why I fall on love, why exactly that one thing makes me decide that this is a goal to strive for. I don’t know why I perceive something as a thing of beauty, just that I do. What I do know is that I will have to figure out a way to maintain this determination. I will forget my determination, and I will have to summon it back again and again. I don’t think I understand how high the price actually are – and that is a good thing. I will give in many times – but I will never give up.

 

The Goal of Japa

11022515_10152610131701433_1736104955035057550_oI recently watched the documentary The Dhamma Brothers. It’s about a high security prison in the US where they had a 10 day meditation program called Vipassana. The point is to meditate for 10 days in silence. No books, phones etc. to disturb the meditation. It sounds great and scary at the same time. I think such a program would be really hard and really rewarding at the same time. During the film one of the brothers told that once when the bell sounded for a break, he just wanted to continue meditating. He didn’t want a break.

We hear that Japa is Krishna. That means that Japa itself is the goal. So by chanting japa, we are associating with that goal, however badly we chant. So what should the goal of Japa be? We are already associating with the goal when we chant. We have not realized our goal yet, but achieving our siddha deha seems like a fairy tale and is simply a too lofty goal to pursue.

64 rounds of japa is encouraged everywhere. It’s in recent times with Srila Prabhupada that 16 rounds have become the minimum requirement. 64 rounds equals to 8 hours of meditation. 16 rounds equals getting chanting done so you can get around to doing everything else. With 64 rounds your primary duty is to chant, while everything else has to be done besides that.

I’m beginning to recognize that 64 rounds is necessary to get a transformation, a change in us. 16 rounds doesn’t even make a dent in me.

I first encountered this idea here:

Good Chanting Produces More Good Chanting
How do I know I have chanted good rounds? One of the best indicators for me is that when I finish my rounds I want to keep chanting because I am getting such a nice taste. If I am relieved to put my bead bag down after my last round, that’s an indicator that my chanting is not being done properly. Good chanting always produces a taste to chant more. Prabhupada said sixteen rounds is the minimum; that constant chanting is the goal.

 

Despite my different efforts at techniques, I think my real aim should just be to chant so much that in the end I don’t want to put the japa beads down. Just chant, chant, chant. Just the thought of that is uncomfortable and I see how quickly I reach for something else. How do I develop the adhikara to just chant?

Still, I think in the low position that I am that quantity is more important than quality. That quantity begets quality. They aren’t really in opposition either, quantity and quality goes hand in hand. If you are restless and doing all other things while doing japa, you will not get the inspiration to do more japa, but less. To be able to do more, there has to be some quality to it.

So the goal of each japa session should be to come to the place where you don’t want to stop chanting.

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.