Archive for May, 2001

Boston A sobering meditation: “A

May 22nd, 2001

Boston

A sobering meditation:
“A guy goes to his spiritual master and says, ‘My problem is that I’ve been trying to faithfully devote an hour a day to meditation, but I have a wife and three kids, a demanding job, the kids are up when I awake, there’s so much going on when I get home, and my wife and I need to spend time together at night. Tell me what I should do.’

The master replies, ‘Two hours a day.'” ?Bo Lozoff, “It’s a Meaningful Life: It Just Takes Practice”

Comment: I found an airline magazine on spirituality and health lying around the Boston Temple and saw this quote in a section of excerpts from recommended books. It is often difficult to maintain the arduous spiritual practices of Krishna consciousness?especially in today’s world. Spiritual life, however, is a discipline. We practice it, among other reasons, at least to free ourselves from the bondage of material existence and the concomitant sufferings of death, disease, and old age. It may be hard to make time for it, but we should see it as a priority?just like an ill person makes time for a prescribed regimen and diet, regardless of other demands upon them.

Of course, devotional service is not just labor; it’s love. Even hard work, if done with devotion, like a mother’s care for a child, has joy in it and should never be seen as only burdensome. Regardless of the sacrifice or our level of devotion, we must make time for spiritual life.

Thus the teacher’s clever answer hints to the student that the reason they don’t have time for spiritual life is not because he is too busy, but because he doesn’t properly value it and thus neglects to discipline himself to make time for it. Despite the occasional extenuating circumstances, the main problem with regularizing one’s sadhana is faith, or sraddha, for if we had trust in the glories of the holy name, as outlined in the Bhagavat, we would not neglect it. For example, if chanting gave us long life and unlimited wealth?and we were one-hundred percent sure it did?we would, in likelihood, make time for it despite any serious obstacles. According to Bhagavat the holy name of Krishna gives so much more, but because our faith and knowledge of the Bhagavat, which proclaim its glories, is weak, we allow our practices to become slack.

Faith means faith in sastra. Faith comes from sadhu-sanga. Sadhu-sanga means to hear sastra from advanced devotees. We must make every effort to get this sadhu-sanga and increase our sraddha, our faith, in devotional service. A devotee’s prayer is for sadhu-sanga. Our life depends on it.

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Boston An informative letter: “There

May 21st, 2001

Boston

An informative letter:
“There are several books that discuss television. The one I told you about is called ‘Deadly Persuasion.’ This particular book doesn’t concentrate on television so much but on the media and advertising industry in general (including billboards), discussing the destructive influence of advertising on the sense of self. It’s by Jean Kilbourne. She also has other such books.”

“Here’s a quick quote from her book about the effect television advertisers and other media have on children. This was taken from an internal memo circulated in a cigarette company:

‘It is important to get children while they are young ‘so that the habit may become an integral part of the image of themselves. . . . The temptation must be pressed just as the sense of self is forming, just as the child is facing the world at large for the first time, or it will not take hold.’

“I suppose we could use this vulnerable time in a child’s life so expertly analyzed by the tobacco companies to give them Krishna consciousness ‘just as the sense of self is forming,’ or we can turn them over to the advertisers.

“There’s another good book though, which is more geared to television’s influence in family life and in the healthy growth of children. One is by Marie Winn, I think, called ‘The Plug-in Drug.’ She has another book, too?something like, ‘What To Do When You Unplug the Plug-In Drug.’ Of course, there are numerous articles and studies on the bad effects of television on children (and adults).”

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?Token Carma?

May 18th, 2001

New York City

Pankaj calls the ashram. My car is not in the space where the devotees parked it yesterday. It is not at the pound. It’s stolen! This will be a terrible convenience, but I try to remain detached. Whatever Krishna wants. I quickly call the insurance company to make my claim. We’re off the police station to file a report. We canvas the neighborhood with Officers O’Grady and Mulligan. The car is found!

Lesson: Krishna reduces the karma of His devotee. It should have been stolen, but it was only temporarily lost. Token carma!

New Ekachakra Dham Not much

May 16th, 2001

New Ekachakra Dham

Not much time for journal work as I am exploring the feasibility of writing a new book summarizing Bhakti-sandarbha. I am confident that properly presenting this knowledge will very much help devotees in their practice of devotional service. Sri Jiva Goswami himself explains:

?For that purpose (as ignorance is the cause of bondage) the very merciful Lord (parama karunikam) teaches (upadisati) scriptures (sastram).?

In other words, scriptures teach about God and therefore by hearing them properly one’s attention is redirected toward the Absolute Truth and the cause of
one’s bondage is destroyed. It is essential for spiritual life, and therefore, Srla Prabhupada stressed that books are the basis.

So far this week I’ve been productive. Today I finished Jiva Goswami’s analysis of a verse from the Eleventh Canto describing how fear caused by duality arises from forgetfulness of our relationship with Krishna. I tried to explain this relationship between duality and fear:

“What is duality and why does it cause fear? The duality referred to here is the illusion of seeing something separate from God. It is not, however, the philosophy of advaitavada where all duality, or distinction, is illusion. In the Bhagavat philosophy the Absolute Truth manifests inconceivable energies that are invested with potency and distinction, although they are still non-dual (advayam), non-different from God, as they are His energies and have no existence outside of Him.

“Fear is caused by uncertainty of the future. We are uncertain of the future when our present existence has features of impermanence. For example, because the body is temporary and we identify the body as the self, we are threatened or fearful of non-existence, death.

?Duality, therefore, causes fear because when one sees the world as separate from God?despite the fact that nothing is ultimately separate from God?one is in illusion. Illusion has no permanence or stability and thus one always lives in uncertainty and fear. In contrast when one worship God and sees the world as His energy, one is embracing what is real, or eternal, and his world is stable, certain, and thus free from fear.?

New Ekachakra Dham ?Suit the

May 14th, 2001

New Ekachakra Dham

?Suit the action to word, the word to action.? ?Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600), 3.2.19

I have been up here for a week writing on the Bhakti-sandarbha and concentrating on sadhana. My best realizations for the journal usually come from
chanting. Often it is the same realization that comes again and again?that bhakti is our sincerity. Sincerity is when ones actions are consciously aligned with ones ideals. Bhakti is the deep conception that God should be pleased. When you confess to be a devotee and your actions are done for the pleasure of Krishna without motive, that is bhakti. You are sincere because your actions and words are one. I took an honest assessment of my spiritual life. Where do my actions fall short of the things that I believe? How does the process of rationalization justify shortcomings born of weakness of heart, not just personal incapability? Where is the best direction to move to align my performance of devotional service with my personal capacity to practice? I decide to consciously plan my week according to my potential for service and pray to Nitai Gaura-Nataraja for mercy.

New York City – Nrsimha

May 7th, 2001

New York City – Nrsimha Caturdasi

I spoke for two hours this morning. I stressed how the story of Lord Nrsimhadeva stresses forth the subject matter of the Bhagavatam?posanam, or protection. Posanam means one is protected by God when recognizing His supremacy and one takes shelter of Him.

In the small audience was one young Indian devotee from NYU who was becoming a devotee. When I met him only weeks before, he was eating mushrooms and LSD, going to techno clubs, and becoming a Buddhist. He has now seriously taken to Krishna consciousness. He is by nature intelligent and bold, and his personality is attractive. He reminds me of many older devotees who, in the late ?60s, were sincere seekers before coming to Krishna consciousness, but in their search got waylaid by drugs and New Age philosophy. He has arranged for his parents to meet me this evening. I have convinced him to give up all his bad habits and have also encouraged him to stay in school. Still, his parents are worried that he is becoming too spiritual. He feels that his parents have no understanding of life beyond family and business. For them education means only material education. They are pressuring him to be a technologist, but he also wants some deeper purpose in life. As I was reading Prahlad’s instructions to Hiranyakasipu, I looked up at this young man. He was sitting in rapt attention. I could sense that he was connecting deeply with the lecture and we both intuitively understood the irony: Prahlad’s instructions to his father had an uncanny parallel to what he has been trying to explain to his father. By coincidence, on this holiest of days, he is also being cast in the role of Prahlad.

“My dear father, as far as I have learned from my teachers, any person one who has accepted this temporary body and temporary household life as one?s eternal identity is certainly embarrassed by anxiety because of having fallen in a dark well were there is no water but only suffering.” (Prahlad’s instructions to his father when asked what he thought is the best of all subjects he had studied from his teachers.)

His parents came. I was surprised that the boy introduced me to them as his mentor. We exchanged pleasantries, and in the course of the conversation, I asked his father to explain his understanding of the purpose of life. The father explained that the purpose of life was to work hard for your family so that your family can work hard for their family, and that this cycle is called dharma, or Hinduism. As he was explaining this, his son became disturbed and interrupted, ?Dad, but what’s the meaning of that cycle? You haven’t explained anything!? I was careful not get in-between the family or to disrespect the parents in front of the son. In fact, I told the student not to raise his voice to his father, and he listened, which seemed to give me some credence with his parents. The discussion ensued and I finally tactfully managed to explain to his parents that they have taken to the American vaisya (business) oriented culture based on the Protestant work ethic where the business class rules, and have inadvertantly forgotten the tradition of their own culture where deference is first given to the brahmanas. While it is understandable that they want secuirty for their son, I explained that they should also encourage their son in his healthy intellectual and spiritual pursuits.

How much did they understand? I’m not sure, but their impression of the devotees was favorable, and at least I got to celebrate Nrsimha Caturdasi in a bit of a real-life drama.

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