Archive for October, 2000

As real culture has broken

October 19th, 2000

As real culture has broken down people are losing the ability to relate with others properly and are thus starved for loving relationships. People are thus more insecure, neurotic, and depressed. We need a proper culture.

I woke up early and tried my hardest to focus, but the name would not
come easy. Possible reasons:

  • I indirectly criticized a Vaishnava yesterday and Krishna withdrew His mercy.
  • Krishna is independent. I fell under the illusion that the process of chanting is mechanical, that the Lord will appear on my tongue by my effort and power alone. Krishna withdrew His mercy to teach me dependence on His mercy.

My realization reminded me in some ways of the story of Dhruva Maharaja. By his determined spiritual practice he gained the direct darshan of Krishna, but then Krishna suddenly disappeared. When he tried again to gain the Lord’s darshan by the same process and determination, he failed because the process of Krishna consciousness is not mechanical. Srila Prabhupada analyzes this point brilliantly in his purport to Dhruva’s Maharaja’s failed second attempt at directly seeing the Lord.

?When He pleases, being satisfied with the sincere attempt of devotional service depending completely on the mercy of the Lord, then He may be seen out of his own accord.? (Bhag. 1.6.20)

When you increase your chanting, your taste for chanting increases, which increases one’s concentration, which makes one’s chanting even more attractive. Illusion also has a snowball effect. When one associates with lower modes, spiritual life becomes more difficult, which makes one more susceptible to the modes of nature, which makes chanting more difficult.

Govardhana About five years ago

October 18th, 2000

Govardhana

About five years ago an old sadhu told me that after years of practice the mind could become one’s humble servant. It was said with conviction. Imagine, in the morning, having our distracted minds humbly obeying our order to just focus on the Holy Name without diversion.

Besides its mystical potency, the dhama, like every place, carries the vibration and mood of the people who reside there. It also carries the vibration and mood of the environment that it’s residents construct according to their modes. Unfortunately, the dhama is now being covered by materialism. Vrindaban is now even filled with cyber cafes, although they are quite primitive by modern standards. Even still, although the dhamas are now somewhat externally vibrating with materialism, the potency of the dhama cannot be denied?especially if one approaches the dhama with the determination to live there for the pleasure of Hari.

Fortunately, Govardhana is still just a simple village. The vibration there is very powerful from the pure sadhus and Krishna’s best servant (Haridas-varya), Giri-Govardhana. If one enters Govardhana with some determination for spiritual life, the mind becomes subdued and the holy name becomes much easier to hear. I chanted today with faith and concentration.

Absorption in the holy name touches the heart and one’s vision becomes clear. Unfortunately, that means that one also sees oneself. I saw my selfishness. Even writing this journal seems somewhat self-serving. Ceto darpana marjanam?chanting cleans the heart. The attic is being swept and the dirt is coming out.

Fear is also there. I fear becoming a servant. I am attached to a world that grossly and subtly moves for my comforts and pleasures, not the satisfaction of God. These attachments are deep-rooted and I don’t want to surrender. Good chanting always comes to the point of facing one’s lack of surrender. The choice is then given: Continue with determination, purify yourself, go further and surrender, or slacken up and stay where you are. The anchor of attachment has to be pulled up, but it takes sincerity, it’s takes courage, and it takes strength.

The heart is churning. Hope arises for Krishna’s mercy. At least I am not bored by nama-seva.

I think I realized today what Bhurijana Prabhu was explaining just the other day about the relationship between realizing the bliss of Krishna consciousness and becoming compassionate. We had another sat-sanga in Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu’s room. The discussion was about the nature of Govardhana, but we also discussed how the dhama becomes covered. That led to a discussion about how materialism was rampant.

With the expanding development of information technology, the world is becoming more and more opposed to spiritual life. It has thus become, in many ways, more difficult for devotees to become Krishna conscious than even ten years before. It has become increasingly difficult for people to maintain basic mental health?what to speak of Krishna consciousness. Jayadvaita Swami mentioned how Mrgesh, his assistant for the month who works for one of the biggest chemical (drug) companies, told him that the industry is shifting in a big way to an emphasis on the development of antidepressants. Suddenly I began to remember my last eight months in America, and how I counseled at least five devotees with the initial symptoms of a nervous breakdown and several others with clinical depression. I became disturbed and felt deeply for these devotees. It was a markedly strong emotion, compassion. Govardhana has made spiritual life such a positive reality. I strongly desire to give it to others because spiritual life can pacify the mind and satisfy the heart.

I sometimes worry about my disciples. That is the karma ones gets for taking disciples.

The good old days in Vrindaban meant you were cut off from the rest of the world. I remember when Satsvarupa Maharaja used to visit us in Vrindaban in the late ?70s. He would very much appreciate that there were no phones in Vrindaban and that being in Vrindaban completely isolated you from the world. To us today, such a place may seem even hellish. What is night for the conditioned soul is the time of awakening for the introspective sage.

I am doing my deity seva very carefully for Kartik. No short cuts, but conscientiousness and cleanliness?no succumbing to passion, distraction, ignorance, or laziness. Such worship gives taste in Krishna consciousness. Attentive spiritual life brings bhakti because it is meditation on Krishna. From meditation comes attachment for the object of meditation. That attachment is bhakti and bhakti is pleasure.

Govardhana Received a letter that

October 16th, 2000

Govardhana

Received a letter that mentioned how one of the disciples was prospering in spiritual life, although he had not always done well. I felt very encouraged.

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Govardhana I appreciate good philosophy.

October 15th, 2000

Govardhana

I appreciate good philosophy. I read today from Jaiva Dharma by Bhaktivinoda Thakur:

“The eternal nature of a vastu, or truly abiding object, is it eternal dharma. Nature arises from the elementary structure of an object (ghatana). By the desire of Krishna, when an object is formed, a particular nature is built into that structure as an eternal concomitant factor. It is this nature which is the eternal dharma of an object.

“When by force of circumstances or due to contact with other objects, a change takes place in a given object?its nature becomes altered or distorted. With the passage of time this distorted nature becomes fixed and thus takes the appearance of permanence, as if it were the eternal nature of that object. This distorted nature is not the true nature, or svabhava; it is called nisarga, that nature which is acquired through long-term association. Occupying the place of the factual nature, this nisarga identifies itself as the true nature, or svabhava.

“Water, as an example, is an object and liquidity is its svabhava. When, under certain circumstances, water solidifies and becomes ice, the acquired nature of hardness acts in place of its substantial nature. In reality the acquired nature is not eternal; it is occasional and temporary. It arises due to some cause; and, when that cause is no longer effective, it vanishes automatically. However, the svabhava, is eternal. Although it may become distorted, it remains inseparablyconnected to its object. When the proper time and circumstances arise, the true nature can certainly be established.” (Jaiva Dharma, Ch. 1, p.8, Gaudiya Vedanta Publications)

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Govardhana Second day of vrata.

October 14th, 2000

Govardhana

Second day of vrata. In Kartik one should do nitya-seva, simple and regulated service. Perhaps now the journal will become boring, because my life has become very simplified?the same exact thing every day. Internally, however, Kartik should be exciting. I am just settling into the rigors of chanting, but with steadiness the realizations will come.

Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu is residing in Govardhana for Kartik and he is observing a strict vrata. He organized a sat-sanga tonight to exchange our realizations. Jayadvaita Swami, Bhakti Vidya Swami, and myself joined him today. He told us jokingly, “We need some devotees who do nothing!” In other words, there is a need in ISKCON for at least some devotees, for some time, to concentrate on deepening their devotion by concentrated chanting and hearing. We read from Giriraja Swami’s new book Watering the Seed, which includes many enlightening anecdotes about Srila Prabhupada. We read a short vignette where Srila Prabhupda stresses that chanting Hare Krishna is the most important order of the spiritual master.

I also provided supporting evidence from the Bhagvatam in the life of Narada Muni:

?The whole idea is that simply by hearing the Lord’s pastimes one can become one of the associates of the Lord. One can attain the highest perfection of life simply by attentive hearing of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord from the right sources, as Sri Narada heard them from the pure devotees (bhakti-vedantas) in his previous life. The process of hearing in the association of devotees is especially recommended in this age of quarrel (Kali).” (Bhag. 1.5.26, purport)

Govardhana First day of Kartik.

October 13th, 2000

Govardhana

First day of Kartik. I am quite busy with my kartik-vrata, so there is not so much time to make entries in the journal. Walked to Radha-kunda in the late morning. Govardhana is very conducive to spiritual life?much more than even Vrindaban. Govardhana is also becoming covered by materialism, but it is still more like the Vrindaban I saw when I first came here, twenty-six years ago?more rural and much less commercial. Perhaps Vrindaban will gradually be covered by materialism and we will have to take shelter of Sridham Mayapur. I’m expecting that even in my lifetime.

Sad news from Mother Srimati, our Ekachakra-dhama guide and teacher, whom I met with yesterday in Vrindaban. She was lamenting that the road in Ekachakra has been paved with asphalt and that electricity has finally been brought to the village. Those who have visited previously should keep the cherished memories of a pristine Ekachakra-dhama in their heart because it will never be the same.

I am busy all day chanting, hearing, and writing. The soul is satisfied by devotional activities. Why don’t I keep this schedule all year?

Lokisaranga Maharaja paid a surprise visit at ten o’clock. He saw Waves of Devotion in the box of books that I brought with me to Govardhana while my rikshaw was parked in Radha-kunda. I stopped there on the way to Govardhana. He surmised where I was and decided to visit me that day.

Loki, as he is known affectionately by his friends, is an Italian Godbrother from the Bronx, but with his dark complexion, Smith Brothers beard, hooked nose, thin frame, and renounced and gentle disposition it is impossible to distinguish him from any Indian-born sadhu. For several years he has lived in a small house on the outskirts of Radha-kunda donated by a friend, but he still remains very reverential to the dhama. In fact, he won’t even bathe in Radha-kunda!

One could expect a staunch sannyasi follower of Srila Prabhupada to preach at least some of the time, not reside permanently in Radha-kunda. Loki, however, is very faithful and respectful to Srila Prabhupada, his devotees, and his mission. The simple fact is that his attributes and disposition are just not very suited to that of a traveling preacher. They are, however, very much suited for ksetra-sannyasa?sannyasa in the dhama. Loki is very simple, humble, and very naturally renounced. In fact, he even lived for some years as a devotee in the Himalayas. Being a sadhu in Vrindaban is therefore a suitable offering for him in service to Srila Prabhupada. I certainly appreciate his association .His short visit was very pleasant.

Vrindaban/Govardhana Hectic day. Moved to

October 12th, 2000

Vrindaban/Govardhana

Hectic day. Moved to Govardhana for the month of Kartik. Bhurijana Prabhu also came, but only for the day, as he leaves for Australia in a few days. We bathed in Radha-kunda on the way.

Settled into my room. I have a full darshan of Giri-Govardhana from my room. Breath-taking view!

Bhurijana Prabhu talked about the necessity for compassion to advance in Krishna consciousness. He described how one can invoke compassion in one’s heart by recalling and meditating on the religious, or nectarean experiences one has had in Krishna consciousness.

Compassionate means that one is unable bear the distress of others. Unless we deeply value Krishna consciousness, how can we feel compassion for those who have forgotten God? How can we realize that the greatest pain is to be bereft of Krishna consciousness?

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I went to briefly talk

October 11th, 2000

I went to briefly talk to Indrayumna Swami, who is spending several months in Vrindaban. It turned into a four-hour visit with preaching to new people, visits from older devotees, and a feast. In late March, I will arrange a two-week tour for him in the Northeast along with his assistant, Prahlada, and I will travel with them.

I asked Indradyumnna Swami why he was spending so much time now in Vrindaban. He said, ?By preaching one gains a taste for bhajan, chanting and hearing about Krishna, so one should cultivate that.? He also said that bhajan naturally invokes in one a desire to preach.

Govardhana I asked an Indian

October 10th, 2000

Govardhana

I asked an Indian sadhu why only Westerners come to his lectures. He said that people in India, by psychology, are rarely able to afford luxury and that spiritual life now has become a luxury. That’s why Indians living in India no longer make so many contributions anymore to science, sports, philosophy, etc.

Bhurijana arrived today. I met with him briefly in the evening and hope to get more of his association. Srila Prabhupada has trained many intelligent men and, as they get older, they will give tremendous strength to the Krishna consciousness movement. He talked about the possibility of returning to Vrindaban in two years to live humbly and just speak the Bhagavatam. I felt like joining him. Bhurijana’s simplicity, detachment, and wisdom makes an impression, although he is unassuming. Srila Prabhupada said, “Don’t try to become a great devotee, just become a good devotee.”

I asked him why he is no longer taking disciples. He said that although he lectures systematically on Bhagavatam three times a week in the evening at the Perth temple, where many people are coming and becoming devotees, they don’t realize that he is guru because he lives at home and takes care of his family. They think he is more like a congregation member and that a guru is someone in saffron who just flies into the temple a few days a year. I told him that he is lucky that he is preaching in Australia because he would never get away with that in New York.

He was interested in my meetings with Varsana Maharaja. We both agreed that he is a special sadhu and has the heart of a devotee.

Jaya Gurupada, Bhurijana’s son, came up to his room to visit him while I was there. Bhurijana wants to spend some more time with him here. He explained that a father has a mystical sakti with his son, and if he deals with him carefully, there is a very subtle transference of experience and wisdom. His son is twenty and will soon leave home to go out on his own so he wants to make sure that he spends quality time with him in Vrindaban.

Jaya Gurupada was in the gurukula for ten years, since he was five years old. He is a good person?secure in himself, but unique. Born at Gita-nagari, raised in Vrindaban, but now living in Australia and fully identifying himself as an Australian. Since Bhurijana is from America, I always playfully argue with Jaya Gurupada that the USA is so much better than Australia, and that he should therefore embrace his father’s place of birth as his culture. He jokingly retorted today, “You mates have baseball, and although the championship is just among America teams you have the nerve to call it a World Series!” Good point.

Vrindaban – Ekadasi I went

October 9th, 2000

Vrindaban – Ekadasi

I went to visit Bhaktivedanta Ashram in Govardhana. On my way, I stopped briefly for a sacred bath. As always, it was a very purifying experience.

The potency of the dhama is not just subjective, it is inherent in the place. To realize that potency, however, consciousness is the primary factor. Narottama dasa Thakur therefore says ?when my mind is peaceful and I am free from the desire for sense gratification, then I will actually see Vrindaban!? I have come to Vrindaban this time relatively free of other distractions and I hope that will help me reap the benefit of residing in a holy place.

The mind is a repository of desires. When we try to focus on Krishna, often those desires act like static interference. Respectfully bathing in Radha-kunda seems to have the power to clear the mind of the whirlpool of those impulsive thoughts. It allows one to focus one’s consciousness on Krishna in a way that was probably not possible before. After taking many devotees on pilgrimage there, I’ve witnessed that many have had this experience when they approach Radha-kunda in the most humble and respectful manner. It is mystical.

I waded in Radha-kunda for just a few minutes, thankful to Srila Prabhupada for the gift of Vrindaban. I prayed that my stay would be spiritually fruitful.

At Bhaktivedanta Ashram in Govardhana, I gave copies of Waves of Devotion to Kesava Bharati and Jayadvaita Swami. Jayadvaita Swami immediately immersed himself silently in the book for some time, checking all the details. I was a little nervous, but the longer he looked, the more he appreciated the book?from the font that was used for the print to the logic of the layout. He finally said, ?To understand Nectar of Devotion people will have to get your book!?

A younger devotee and resident of Vrindaban came to visit me. He was feeling the purification of his prolonged stay in the dhama. I know the feeling. He revealed his mind.

This devotee had become somewhat known for his renunciation, but has now realized that his renunciation had a lot to do with a neglected and bitter childhood that soured him to relationships. His renunciation was therefore somewhat of a psychological reaction, a passion, and not fully an internal and natural detachment. He realized that marriage was necessary and that Krishna consciousness would have to be practiced from a more honest platform.

As I listened he poured out his heart.

I very much admired this devotee. His ability to open his heart at the risk of vulnerability before a senior devotee was certainly a sign of dependence on Krishna. I didn’t agree that his renunciation was purely superficial, but I did agree that his present level of renunciation exceeded his realization and wasn’t indicative of a fully integrated person. What amazed me was the astuteness of his self-analysis. This astute analysis also indicated to me that, by his sincerity, he had broken through the defense mechanism and rationalization that prevent most individuals from seeing themselves and becoming whole persons. It was also noteworthy that this was achieved solely by his sincere practice of Krishna consciousness, which is consistent with how the process of Krishna consciousness ideally works as described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.17).

In all of my dealings with many devotees, only one other time did I see a devotee with the intelligence and sincerity to so quickly and independently identify and confront their deepest conditioning, their passions, without a prolonged process of spiritual or psychological counseling.

There are a lot of interesting books in Vrindaban. I read this statement about the protection of women in a relatively obscure book by an Indian intellectual. It may not be politically correct, but it made sense, especially along the lines of the culture and tradition of India:

?By nature women are soft-hearted, kind, tolerant, and affectionate. The human brain has basically two aspects: the logical and analytical aspect, and the emotive, affectionate side. The general tendency is that men are more logical and women more affectionate. God has designed women like this so they will be able to care for their children.

?The father only gives the seed, but the mother has to carry, nurture, and raise the child. If women were ruled strictly by logic, they would not be able to perform that tremendous task properly. They would think, ?What is the use of carrying this burden? What will I gain from this for myself?? and probably decide not to have children. Thus women are naturally ruled more by affection so they can tolerate the burden of child rearing. The word ?mother? signifies loving sentiment. It is a very difficult task for a man to raise children because they generally do not possess this deeply affectionate nature.?

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