Monday Morning Greetings 2020 #6 – A Humbling Realization

February 10th, 2020

I have been here in Vṛndāvana for forty-three years, but in terms of attaining pure devotion the amount of time in a holy place isn’t the main prerequisite. What really matters is one’s firm internal commitment to surrender to Krishna. After coming to the path of bhakti that could take lifetimes, or it could happen in a moment.


A leader in Krishna consciousness who is allured by distinction and admiration may not attain the platform of pure devotion after decades of service, while a beginner who humbly feels impelled to take full shelter of guru and Krishna, perhaps after a lifetime of suffering, may get the full force of bhakti at once. It all depends on when one pulls up the anchor of selfish attachment and surrenders fully to guru and Krishna. A well-known tale illustrates this point.


The wedding party traveled all night by boat to arrive at their destination. To their dismay, upon awakening they were in exactly the same spot as when they began. Upset, they brought their complaint to the boatman, who initially defended himself vigorously. After all, he had rowed all night. He, however, soon became contrite when a person in the wedding party pointed out that he had forgotten to pull up the anchor.


The story illustrates my humbling realization. My many years staying in Vṛndāvana is just not a badge of spiritual attainment to be worn by itself. One must fully pull up the chain of selfish desire and come to that point of unconditional surrender, something that can be done at once providing one is inspired with the fortitude and conviction to do so.


I have been helping to host a group of pilgrims from the USA this past week, people relatively new to the path of bhakti. Many attend my evening class. There is some raw sincerity here. I have practically never seen people immediately dive so deeply with full heart into the holy name. The thought then crossed my mind: They have a chance to commit to bhakti immediately in a way that has taken me many years to attain, or more honestly, I have still yet to attain. Why not?


I am not minimizing the determination of those who stay committed to the path of bhakti for many years. There is something so glorious about that. I am just pointing out a fact — that the fruit of such determination and grace is the point of full surrender, which opens the door to the genuine sentiments of one’s eternal relationship with Krishna. That point generally takes years or lifetimes of practice to attain, or it is something that can also be achieved at once by someone who has the intelligence and strength to do so.


“Nonetheless, the living entities are constantly being bewildered by this very same illusory energy. In his conditioned state, the living entity discovers many forms of word jugglery to get apparent liberation from the clutches of Māyā, but if he sincerely surrenders unto Kṛṣṇa by simply once saying ‘My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, from this day I am Yours,’ he at once gets out of the clutches of the material energy.” (Teachings of Lord Caitanya, ch. 11)


A stone in a glass of water will not absorb anything even if resting there for thousand years. A piece of cotton will be drenched in a minute. After so many years the same choice remains, “Stone or cotton?” How humbling!


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