Monday Morning Greetings 2019 #49 – You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

December 9th, 2019

You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide[1]

 

A realization came this morning while chanting: “Krishna sees not just what I am doing, but the heart behind it.” It was somewhat heavy, because it means that not only does Krishna see the sincerity beyond the externals, but He also sees the insincerity beyond any bluff. But the point is that either way we can’t hide. To know and live by that is very important in spiritual life, especially in gaining impetus for an inner life. After meditating on my realization for just a few minutes it dawned on me that it didn’t just come out of nowhere. It was actually from my studies the day before. Before I continue, here’s the point that inspired me:

 

After waiting for twelve years in Mathurā, Akrūra was finally on his way to Vṛndāvana for the opportunity to see Krishna. Suddenly a doubt entered his mind: “I am carrying the order of the evil King Kaṁsa by summoning Krishna to Mathurā where he plans to kill Him. Despite this, will Krishna see my heart and welcome me?” Sure, there were many good reasons in Krishna’s service for why Akrūra stayed in Kaṁsa’s government, but the optics were terrible. He even feared that the cowherd friends of Krishna would attack him before he got to see Krishna. After a minute of anguish, a thought relieved him: “Surely with His perfect vision, both externally and internally, Krishna would only externally see me as Kaṁsa’s friend, but internally would see me as a devotee.”

 

Reading Akrūra’s realization and then dwelling on it later helped reinforce in my mind how essential it is to be cognizant of Krishna as the witness and knower of our hearts at all stages of our spiritual development. I know many new people that come to a Krishna temple, especially in the west, who initially fret over the etiquette and rules, not knowing if they are doing something wrong. Even more experienced devotees, not always perfect in the external details of worship and devotion, may doubt their progress. What is implied here, however, is that our sincere intentions are more important to Krishna than any external formality or paraphernalia.

 

I don’t mean to minimize acts of devotion and strict adherence to spiritual practice. What and how much we do in Krishna’s service very much represents the devotion in our heart. The point here is different — that one should not make an absolute correlation between what one does and one’s level of devotion. To do so can not only influence us to remain mechanical in our devotional practices, but risks blinding us to the ability to see, as Krishna does, the good heart of both those who may not know the rules and also those sincere people struggling in devotion.

 

Strongly developing this cognizance that Krishna is seeing our heart should also make us more vigilant in developing an inner life of devotion. I am not talking about inner life in terms of practices of advanced devotional meditation, but just the simple awareness that for Krishna’s pleasure all devotional activities must be accompanied by an internal prayer commensurate with our level of devotion. A personal example of this comes to mind. Years ago, during my studies in Kārttika, I read something that particularly intrigued me. When one pays obeisances one should consciously cultivate the feeling of “I am inferior”, a mood meant to express and invoke reverential devotion. After reading that, every morning upon first seeing the sacred mount Govardhana I would bow down silently repeating that phrase. Doing so not only consciously amplified the devotion that was previously relatively silent in my more mindless and mechanical obeisance, but it helped me to become more cognizant of Krishna’s presence, and made that simple act of devotion more meaningful and devotional.

 

Our hearts are the place where Krishna enthuses devotion, which is the essence of His pleasure potency. Seeing such a heart is Krishna’s pleasure, and therefore the prime aim of one on the path of bhakti-yoga is to purify one’s heart by both adopting the practices of devotion and by enthusing that devotion with appropriate thoughts and feelings. Śrīla Prabhupāda called this conscious internal development the “mental culture” of Krishna consciousness. In other words, if we can’t hide our heart from Krishna, why not consciously try to bring it alive?

 

“Those who are cultivating spiritual life and executing devotional service are always engaged in activity. Such activity can be performed with the body or with the mind. Thinking, feeling and willing are all activities of the mind, and when we will to do something, the activity comes to be manifest by the gross bodily senses. Thus, in our mental activities we should always try to think of Krishna and try to plan how to please Him, following in the footsteps of the great ācāryas and the personal spiritual master. There are activities of the body, activities of the mind and activities of speech. A Krishna conscious person engages his words in preaching the glories of the Lord. This is called kīrtana. And by his mind a Krishna conscious person always thinks of the activities of the Lord—as He is speaking on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra or engaging in His various pastimes in Vṛndāvana with His devotees. In this way one can always think of the activities and pastimes of the Lord. This is the mental culture [emphasis added] of Krishna consciousness.” (NOD, Introduction)

 

 


[1] “You can run, but you can’t hide” is a famous English idiom that means that no matter what you do you can’t avoid the consequences you are trying to avoid. It was originally spoken by Joe Louis, one of the greatest heavyweight boxing champions of the world just before the rematch will Billy Conn, a lighter, faster boxer. I have used it in context of this Monday Morning Greetings to indicate that Krishna is always seeing our hearts even if we try to avoid Him.

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